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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Fingerstyle Guitar 101 (Lesson 1)

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - The Lesson explained.

I've been promising all the real beginners here that I'd do a lesson for them and here it is. I was playing this for my 6 month old daughter Georgia some time back when I realized that it would make a great lesson for those just starting out with the art of finger style guitar.

You couldn't get more basic than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" now, could you?

I've done two versions: one is a melody line with bass notes. It's about as simple as you get; the other is exactly the same thing except that I've fleshed it out with some chords. I think if you work on the first version for a while using the fingering you see in the video, you'll find it quite easy to add those chords in for the second version.

The first version:

I've done it in our favorite key: G. As usual, G offers the easiest and best fingerings for guitar, nothing is too far to reach for and no pesky barres come into play.

The letters you see switching back and forth are the chord changes for the piece. Even though at this stage no actual chords are being played, the structure is there nevertheless. It so happens that (apart from one note near the end) the bass notes I play are in fact those notes, but really, the letters denote the underlying (silent) chords, not the notes.

You'll see that the thumb always plays the bass notes. That's standard procedure for finger style guitar, a rule that can always be broken, but a good one to use as the default method of playing bass notes. They act as sonic foundations for the melody line and are letting us know what the structure of the tune is.

The melody line is played on the top three strings ('top' means treble, not how far off the floor they are). I've kept it very simple by using the same finger (ring finger) to pluck all the melody notes, regardless of which string it's on.

I think it's important to see those two elements -- melody line and bass line -- as totally separate entities, so I suggest working out the bass line first (just the thumb notes), then working out the melody line. Make sure you really do hear each of those fully and that you can play them without referring to the tab. Only then put them together as a unit.

If this is your first foray into finger style, take it nice and slowly. Those separations between strings, the distances between thumb and finger, may feel odd at first, but they will be used over and over and over again as you learn more pieces, so allow your fingers to get used to it all. Bend your wrist slightly so your hand is as square to the strings as possible ... in a relaxed way. This will automatically put your thumb/fingers in a good plucking position and give you the most control and attack. You don't want your fingers hitting the strings on an angle, that becomes noisy and clumsy. The goal here is to keep it all smooth and clean. This will take time, so don't get discouraged.

You'll hear and see that just before the end I throw in one extra note, an F# on the bass string. That's just to add a bit of interest there and let the listener know that something special is coming up -- the end in this case.

So, get this one down as best you can and watch the video to see which fingers I use. I'm often asked to indicate in the tab which fingers are being used. I could, but I don't. It's much better for you to do the hard work of figuring it out and checking and crosschecking and trying out and confirming. You can start and stop the movie, and if you buy the downloadable version of this lesson, you also get an overhead-shot movie of the fretting hand that makes it even clearer to see what's going on. All movies are hi resolution too, come with the animated fretboard, plus you get the GuitarPro file, midi files to practice to and the Mp3.

Playing the guitar was never meant to be easy! When you have got it worked out, go to the next version of this where you get to add some meat to the bone: chords.


Most of my lessons, including this one, are now free. Please consider making a donation so I can keep these free lessons coming. -- To donate, simply click the green donate button below and you will be taken to a PayPal page where you can enter the amount you would like to donate. No amount is too small ... or big!

A big thanks in advance, Kirk Lorange