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Quick Guitar Lesson: Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Hey everybody! Bill Uhler here from The Music Gallery. This video is a little later in a series of videos for beginner guitar players. So, If you're just getting started, make sure you check out some of the earlier videos where I teach things like how to hold a pick, how to number the frets and strings, and a couple exercises to get you started. 

In this video, we will focus on a Bob Dylan Song called Knockin' On Heaven's Door. There are four chords in that song. They are G, D, A minor, and C.

G Chord DiagramA Minor Chord DiagramC Chord Diagram


If you have never played these chords before, I'll break them down for you.

In the G chord, we're going to place our second finger on the sixth string and our third finger on the first string. Both are on the third fret. I use my second finger to mute the fifth string by letting it rest over top without pushing down. Sometimes you'll see the G chord with the first finger on the second fret of the fifth string. We could do it either way.

The D chord puts the first finger - the index finger - on the third string, second fret. Our second finger is on the first string, second fret. Your third finger - ring finger - will be on the second string, third fret. With our pick, we're going to strum from the fourth string and omit the fifth and sixth strings.

The biggest challenge learning chords in the beginning is memorizing where our fingers need to go. So, I usually like to start with only two chords with my student.

We can use G to D for example. Go slowly and picture in your mind where your fingers need to go for that next chord. Memorize these grips and go back and forth until it feels comfortable. It will take a few days, maybe even a week, to get to where you can switch back and forth between these chords easily. It does take time, but if you are persistent and consistently spend 15-20 minutes working at it everyday, you will get it.

The other chord we're going to move to is an A minor chord. My first finger is going to be on the first fret of the second string, the second finger is going to be on the second fret of the fourth string, and the third finger is going to be on the second fret of the third string. Then, we strum with the pick starting from the fifth string, omitting the sixth string, and strum through all five of the remaining strings.

We've already spent some time working on G to D. Once that feels okay and you're confident you've memorized it, move on to memorizing D to A minor.

The song goes from Am back to G as well, so we will practice that. When you're feeling good about that, we will put all three of these chords together. For now, we will just strum each chord three times and switch. G to D, D to Am, and Am back to G.

In the chorus of this tune, sometimes you'll go to the C chord instead of the A minor. The C chord is similar to A minor. Two of the fingers we have down are going to be in the same place for the C chord. The only difference is the third finger is on the fifth string instead of the third string.

Let's take a second to go through that. The finger will be on the first fret of the second string, we will skip over the third string, the second finger will be on the second fret of the fourth string, and the third finger will be on the third fret of the fifth string.

Next, we might practice going back and forth from a D chord to a C chord. Then C back to G.

This is a big step. If you can get to a point where you can memorize all these chord shapes and try to keep your timing while you switch, you'll be in great shape.

Now everything so far has been to learn the chords of the song. However, the timing in the song is actually a bit different. There are only two strums on the G chord and the D chord, and four strums for the A minor and C chords. There isn't much time between the chords to switch, so you'll need to make sure you've memorized how your chords feel, so you can begin practice switching quickly.

I hope this helps you out. If you have any comments, please contact me through The Music Gallery. I hope this video was helpful. Keep an eye out because I plan to do at least one or two of these videos a week.

Thanks so much and I'll see you again. Have a great day!

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