Suggestions for songs and other content in Grade 3


Richard, This post is not specifically limited to you, but I couldn’t find a specific place to offer suggestions for Grade 3 content, so I wanted to get the attention of at least one teacher.

I know that grade 3 was added to provide a smoother transition from beginner to intermediate guitar.

The biggest barrier to me at the intermediate grades is playing songs with extensive use of barre chords.

My suggestion is to add a lesson in Grade 3, perhaps with the title A preview of Barre Chords, with a brief discussion of E and A form barre chards and a lesson on a hybrid approach for songs with mostly open chords and the usefulness of specific (minor) barre chords. Maybe the lesson title is too formal for this level. Perhaps it should talk about enhancing your songs with a few barre chords.

This would be focused on useful minor barre chords in the first 4 frets and using in a song with mostly open chords. It would not replace the more thorough study in grade 4.

A specific example would be songs in the key of D, with a quick review of the 1,IIm, IIIm, IV, V and Vim chords and using the F#m and Bm chords in songs in the key of D. Up until now 90% of the barre chords that I have played have been those 2 chords. So that would be a good starting point.

It is also very easy to transition from F barre chord knowledge to these chords, since you just have to slide over 1 fret to play the F# barre chord. Then you just lift up the second finger to play the F#m barre chord or slide the F# barre chord down to the 5th string to play the Bm barre chord.

A very specific example is the video lesson for Summer of 69, a grade 3 song. In the learn more notes it says “ You’ll meet a slightly more challenging chord in the chorus: the B minor chord. This is beyond beginner level but not particularly difficult. It’s worth trying if you’re up for it, and it’s a valuable chord for many other songs too!”

These lessons could be added early on in Grade 3 and later another lesson on minor barre chords in the keys of G and A and even E (to cover the CAGED keys) could be added and tips on changes from open chords to the minor bare chords could be included. This also provides a place to include a little theory with directing to the Practical Theory Course for more info.

I think that the gradual incorporation of harmonized scale minor barre chords (for the CAGED keys, except C, which doesn’t need minor barre chords) in Grade 3 songs could help with the transition to playing of songs with all barre chords at the intermediate level.

Thanks for your attention and consideration.

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Thanks for the suggestion @SteveL_G99 I will pass it on to the team.

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@Richard_close2u Richard, Thanks for passing this suggesion along to the team.

It occurred to me that when the F#m and Bm barre chords have been introduced, they could be used to play some of the Grade 1 songs that use just Em and Am chords and the concept of transposing chords for keys could be introduced. That would be a little more challenging than just adding a chord to a song with mostly open chords, but perhaps could be introduced later in Grade 3.

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If you want an instant fix of a song using F#m check out Justin’s lesson on Don’t Let Me Down.

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@Richard_close2u Thanks, I will look at the video for Don’t Let Me Down. Looks like it is listed as a Grade 7 song, though.

@SteveL_G99 Any I V vi IV song in the key of A major will have a F#m in it.


@stitch Yes, those would be additional songs to include in the lessons.

@stitch Thanks. That reminds me that any I V vi IV song in the key of D major would have a Bm in it, so those would be the 2 keys that I would focus on at first, if lessons were added to to gently introduce a few minor barre chords into Grade 3.

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With all the embellishment parts, that grade 7 is warranted. You can play easier versions strumming F#m and E though. :slight_smile:

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@Richard_close2u Thanks.

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@Richard_close2u Richard, I wanted to add that after practicing some of the Grade 3 songs, I can see that the two main keys for preparing for intermediate level barre chord songs (in addition to my suggestion of the minor barre chords of F#m and Bm) is:

1 - focusing on songs with a lot of F chords such as “California Dreaming” with has 5 different F chords in just the verse. I had to practice one minute changes from G to F, because my F barre chord is still a little unreliable.

2 - playing songs such as “You Really Got Me” which give you a workout with power chords, especially when played at the recorded song tempo. Playing the C D power chord changes on both the 5 string and the 6 string provides experience playing at different positions on the neck.

I can see that with enough practice of the appropriate Grade 3 songs, I will be ready for intermediate level songs.

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@Richard_close2u After playing through some of the grade 3 songs in the beginner songbooks 1 and 2, I found the U2 song “All I Want Is You” which prominently features an F#m chord in the chorus. It is interesting that this is a I IV VIm (or I IV vi) chord progression (no V chord, I am assuming since it starts on A that is not I iii V). In the video and in the book Justin treats it as a chord that would scare a beginner at this level and offers some cheats for the chord. The beginner’s songbook volume II, shows the box diagram for the F#m. I still believe that since you have already learned the big barre F chord, then the F#m chord should be easier and you shouldn’t need a cheat for the chord. For this song though I am adding a one minute change from F#m to D.

This song video lesson also has a great A Asus2 D Dsus2 rhythm lesson.

Hi Steven the only reason that I can think of as to why the F#m is not taught in the beginners grades is that to play Minor E Shape barres, you need more strength in your hands and need to adjust the bar. So, I presume that Justin wants to make sure we’ve put in a fair amount of work in developing the E Major barres to get us ready for the F#m similar to all the preparation work for tackling the F Barre Chord.

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@Socio True, but it takes less strength as you go up the neck and it seems to me that it takes no more strength for the F#m as for the F barre chord. Perhaps it is just me. I find the F#m chord easier to play than the full F chord. Anyway, my original suggestion was to add the F#m and Bm chords to the Grade 3 curriculum because they are so useful in chord progressions in the keys of D and A. Also, it would soften the transition to the extensive use of barre chords at grade 4 and above.

@Socio James, I hope you don’t think that I am being overly critical of one of Justin’s lessons. I am actually trying to be helpful ;-). The song “All I Want Is You” is listed in the Stage 7 section of Beginner Book volume 2, which means it was developed for the Classic Course. All of the chords in the classic beginner course Stages 1 to 9 are now introduced in Grades 1 and 2 of the current Beginner Course.

Grade 3 is an entirely new set of lessons, even though the videos for the old Stage 7 to 9 songs from the Beginner Song Books vol 1 and 2 are now mostly listed as Grade 3. Grade 3 is still being developed with the goal, from what I have gathered in Justin’s comments, is to bridge the gap between beginner and intermediate. So Grade 3 is really no longer just beginner level, but rather advancing beginner level.

I am just passing along some suggestions for the new developing Grade 3. Since I ran into a wall with some of the barre chord songs at Grade 4 and jumped back and repeated this new course after grade 3 added, I am really try to help myself and others. :wink:


Steven, not at all. I think it is really good that you are taking time to provide feedback based on your learning experience. I was just flipping the coin to see if there was any logic as to why they were covered in the first module of Grade 4 and not introduced earlier.

From what I have glanced at so far it seems to be quite a few new lessons with the odd couple of revamped lessons thrown in. The new grade look really good.

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@Socio James, notice in Grade 3 that the lessons thin out as you go through the modules.
From 15 to 22, the module lesson count is 9,8,9,8,6,6,3,2. It appears after the first 4 modules that Justin is searching for more ideas for lessons for grade 3, so I thought my suggestions would be appreciated. Richard has already said that he has passed along my suggestions to the team.

Let me run these ideas by you as a more experienced member of the community and see what you think.

I’ve looked ahead and in module 20 Justin introduces chords in a key (easy version, no theory). In my opinion, that could be moved to module 19 (which only has 6 lessons) and this topic could be expanded without theory. Once you know the pattern is 1(Major), 2(minor), 3(minor), 4(Major), 5(Major), then you could introduce the five finger mnemonic that I still use a lot. Counting thumb to pinky as 1 to 5, count through the alphabet from C to G, so thumb is C and ring finger (4th finger) is F and pinky finger (5th finger) is G. The pinky finger or 5th note G is starting note for you next key. Continue like that for D, A and E and focus on just the 1, 4 and 5 finger notes and you have all the 1,IV, V chords that you have learned in grades 1 and 2 (i.e. C F G, G C D, D G A, A D E, E A B7). (I know about the cycle of 5th diagram which illustrates this, but I was keeping out the theory).

It is the 2,3 and 6 (iI,iii, vi) chords that cause the problems when playing any of the CAGED keys other than C. ( It might seem silly, but I add the thumb from the other hand when I am counting up to the 6th note of the scale) So introducing Bm and F#m and eventually C#m and G#m would open up the other CAGED keys without learning too many other chords. You can see that in the song writing by dice exercise in an earlier lesson, which was limited to the key of C if you used all 6 numbers of the dice. Once you think of the 6 main chords in the keys of C, G, D, A and E as chord families, you can introduce the idea of transposing songs from one chord family to another to change keys to sing in your voice range, instead of just using a capo. (I hate putting the capo at 7th fret and above.).

P.S. I just remembered that when I have C#m and G#m chords (in keys A and E), I usually capo on the second fret and play the G and D key chord shapes to play the chords for keys of A and E (as I move towards grade 4, I need to stop that :wink: )So you only need to introduce two new barre chords Bm and F#m in Grade 3 (you already know F barre). As I mentioned in an earlier post, if you know the F barre chord, then it is easy to slide over 1 fret to play the F# chord and then either lift up the index finger to play the F#m chord or slide the F# barre chord shape down 1 string to play the Bm chord. Also, I noticed that the Justin Guitar app has Bm in the chord search function. If F#m was added, those songs could also be added.

I am also adding @Richard_close2u to this post, since some of these ideas weren’t in my original suggestions

@Socio @Richard_close2u James, sorry for the long post. You don’t have to read or respond. Richard can just pass along to the team for consideration. Once I got started, I really wanted to get my suggestions down in the post, but I am probably pushing the boundaries of community post length guidelines.

Hey Stephen,

I certainly wouldn’t consider myself as one of the more experienced members. You my friend certainly have more experience than me and I’m glad that you are sharing it.

I sure have buddy and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve held off from commencing Grade 3. Waiting for Justin to finish filming the lessons he has planned for Grade 3. It would be good to have a preview list of the upcoming lessons to be published. It would be like knowing what you’re getting for Christmas before receiving it.

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@Richard_close2u Hi Richard can you please clean up this thread? It is a lesson specific thread For Module 15 Practice Routine.
@SteveL_G99 Can you please post your Ideas in the proper section Thank You.

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