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Morning has Broken - A fingerstyle guitar lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced

Morning Has Broken - The Lesson explained

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Morning has Broken is in the public domain. I always thought it was written by Cat Stevens!

I experimented with all the main keys for this lesson, but as usual, G won out. It's such a good guitar key because all the related chords have open (non barre) positions. I always try to avoid barre chords for these lesson, I know how challenging they can be to those just starting out. Barre chords can be speedbumps, that's for sure, they interrupt the flow and that's the last thing you want when trying to express a piece of music.

The chord progression sticks pretty much to the related chords. There are a couple of 'majorizations' in there: The B7 in the intro/outro (the B chord in the key of G is normally minor) and there are a couple of A majors in the song itself (A chords are also normally minor in this key). Notice that there is a Bm and Am in there too, so both forms appear, which is not unusual.

I've included an intro and outro in this shortened version of the tune. The intro ends on a C/D, meaning a C chord with a D bass; I changed that chord to a C/G in the outro, just for the sake of variety. You can, of course, use whichever you like. The C/D comes from a version I listened to on YouTube, the C/G is what I prefer to hear.

(Note that my guitar is slightly out of tune. I apologize for that, but I play these under very bright and quite warm lighting that throws my nylon strings out of tune quick smart.)

I tried to keep the fingering as simple as possible but it's still quite challenging. One little 'twiddly bit' made its way in at bar 28 -- I do a quick hammer-on/pull-off over the D7 there. You don't have to do it, just stay on the open B string if you prefer.

The picking follows the basic rules: thumb handles the bass notes, the other fingers handle the higher notes in the most logical way possible. If your wrist is slightly bent, you should find that your fingers (index-middle-ring) fall onto those treble strings naturally. Don't feel that you should be following strict rules about which finger plays which string. Eventually, you should be able to use just about any combination at will. That is, in fact, what you should be aiming for, to be able to switch between any combination (within reason!) of your picking fingers. As always, I recommend you concentrate on the bass line first, work on the melody lines and extra chord tones once you're confident you have those all-important bass notes locked in. They're the foundation for everything else.

If you've been playing fingerstyle for a while, you will no doubt find some common moves that you've played before in other pieces in the key of G. If and when you do, make a conscious effort to file them away mentally. Playing guitar, or any instrument, is really a process of building up a vocabulary of moves that your fingers get to know without you directing them. You will find that they fall into groups often defined by the key you're playing in, so always be aware of what you're playing and how it fits together. Moves like a I chord to a IV chord; a I chord to a V chord ... I chord to vi chord to ii chord to IV chord. In G, that translates to: G to C; G to D; G to Em to Am to C. Your hands and fingers will get to know these moves inside and out. You can help that process by being totally aware of what's going on musically, rather than just mindlessly following the tab.

And have fun, that's the main thing, work on the flow, the lilt.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these free guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.