Trouble Playing Songs

I’m an (older) beginner, and excited to have found this community!

I am currently working on grade 1, Module 5, and while I can just squeak in 30 chord changes with the C chord, I am far too slow to play any of the songs in the module.

I know I still have a lot of work to do with my chord changes, but I was surprised at how much I’m struggling with the songs.

I suppose my question is do I need to back up a module, or just keep drilling chord changes in this module until I get it. I want to make sure I am using the course correctly, and I thought I checked all the boxes for module 4, but I feel like the module 5 songs are a bit over my head.

Thanks I’m advance!


Hello and welcome.

I’m older (71) and will always be a beginner. At the start, the songs I tried sounded terrible, however I moved on and kept learning and practicing. I discovered that after a while I would go back and try to play the songs again and they sounded better. Like Justin says, practice perfectly. It does make a difference. Don’t give up. You will improve. It’s a bunch of new skill sets to learn. And have fun. It’s nor work, it’s play.


Hi Paul, welcome to the community.
In addition to what Scott @sphanson01 said, you can also slow the song down (E.g. with YT or the app) and/or reduce the number of strums that you play in each bar. This should give you a way to play with the song. Playing along with the song is more interesting than just doing chord changes even if it doesn’t sound great at first. You’ll get a feel for the timing and rhythm and be doing chord changes.


@KFPanda I am at the 3 month stage (im 64) and just looking at stage 2 . I have been playing along with the songs on the app . A few weeks ago I thought i couldnt do it and had the songs slowed right down but I gradually increased the speed. I still have a problem with one bar changes but its getting there. Keep at it and your speed will increase. Just stick to easy chords for now would be my advice ,that C is a bitch(for me)


Hi Paul and welcome to the Community.

If you’re working on module 5 then I think it’s reasonable to expect the module 5 songs to be a bit above your ability. I think in general you should learn songs that are part of the modules you’ve completed. In your case those that contain A, D and E. There are hundreds of songs that contain only those chords.
Have fun with those songs whilst at the same time continue studying and practising the material in your current modules.
Of course it’s good to push yourself and try things that you find difficult but in the early stages of learning guitar it’s important not to put yourself off by being overly ambitious or trying to complete lessons too quickly.
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.


Sing… and play along the singing.
Your guitar playing might be lagging, but keep on singing.
It will get better.
Pick songs that are easy to play, and have fewer chords.
Keep on playing.
Have fun.

Paul @KFPanda
Plenty of good advice above but if can have my two penneth worth.
I passed through your stage not long ago, to me it was all about playing songs, you need OMC but you will be surprised how trying to play songs brings on every things else, you might not think so at first but it will do.
By the way welcome to the community :+1::grinning::notes::guitar:


Hang in there and welcome to the community. When I started I just focused on a song that had A E and D as mentioned above. Also try just one or two strums per every 4 beats. It’s worth the struggle and soon the struggle will be a distant memory. Just remember not too long ago you couldn’t finger a single chord. :slight_smile:


Ummm, where is singing mentioned? This is terrible advice, the last thing a beginner needs is to try singing as well!

Simplify as much as is required. Strum 1 beat per bar if needed and make your chord change on beat 3 or 4 of the previous bar to give you time until you get faster. Also think about the chord changes… don’t take your fretting hand off the guitar every change. Depending on how you form your A chord, A to D to E to A always has one finger that stays anchored that the others can pivot around, see if you can make your changes more economical


Welcome to the community! Don’t worry about it. Keep working on cord changes and just slow the song way down and play them anyway. The important thing is you keep on keeping on and as some say, play songs play songs, play songs.

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If you are one of the lucky people who can do this right out of the gate…sure, go ahead, if it helps.

But if you are already struggling with the guitar playing, it’s unlikely to help…especially in the early stages.

(However, I found that once I could play a few songs, my singing helped my playing, and my playing helped my singing.)


Not sure if you are trying to strum but that can interfere. Even of you can strum and sing, this is too early for those. No need to go back but you really need to concentrate on the chords and changing over between them. When I was forst starting (very recently) I would just strum the first note of the bar and spend the rest getting to the next note. As time goes by, you will get faster. Be patient with yourself and spend this time practicing your open chords until you move further though. You should be able to see the open chords and know immediately what it is and be able to get to it quickly (I believe it was a changeover per second) before you move on.

Also, you might want to have the action checked on your guitar now. It can make it a lot easier on you.

Also, a head’s up, you are going to want to keep pinching your neck with your thumb like Justin says. This will get you ready for barre chords. The F chord is the first and can be really difficult for some folks and takes some finger/hand strength.

Best of luck. Most important, keep practicing and making sure that you are also practicing perfect changeovers as well as quick ones that are less perfect.

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I’ll echo this advise from @sairfingers

When I done the old beginners course, I would still be working on songs from previous levels. I rarely started learning songs from the current level.

The way to think about it, is you can only have 100% concentration.
If a new skill, say the C chord, is taking up 90% of that concentration, then that only leaves 10% for doing everything else required. Can you maintain the strumming pattern, and read/remember the song chords with that remaining 10%?
You ideally need new skills to be at a suitable level where they don’t need as much concentration, before you start incorporating them with other things. Off course at some point you do need to push things, but pushing too early will just result in lots of frustration.

Thanks! That C is giving me fits. It feels like this module added the worst chord so far and upped the tempo at the same time.


Slow it down. Try four down strums per bar until it feels right. I hear plenty of players who think they are no longer beginners who should go back and do this. Keep it simple, on time and in the groove.

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Hi Paul,

Nothing sounded like a song for me for a few months. I still struggle with missing strings after 2 years, so don’t work to perfection unless you are willing to commit the time for it.

Some things I found while learning that you may find encouraging:

  • The early songs are NOT supposed to sound like the original - they are supposed to allow you to learn to keep time and make chord changes. The app really helped me over a plateau there.
  • You will get more comfortable holding your guitar. I still remember feeling awkward grabbing it at 6 months. Just keep playing, and it will get better. This will result in cleaner playing. it is just part of familiarity with the instrument.
  • going backwards is fine. The course is set up for self-examination, so if YOU think you need a refresh or need to backtrack a bit, do it. I do so frequently as a quick refresher, and sometimes I just skipped ahead too fast and realize I now need a skill I didn’t work on.
  • If a module isn’t challenging, then it isn’t useful. You should be learning something about guitar playing. Learning is not simple. This should mean that you will identify stuff that you do poorly and stuff you do well. Work on both, but give extra attention to the stuff you struggle with.
  • Be sure to do something you really enjoy related to playing each day. Could be practicing a song, studying theory, listening to songs you want to learn, etc. Set aside a little time for for this as well as the less fun stuff.
  • Use a song you want to play as practice. Sometimes a riff or a couple bars of a song can be a great practice segment. Find some of those in the stuff you like and incorporate them into practical practice of the stuff in the lessons.
  • Be sure to come back to the forums to read and ask questions. Folks here have a wide variety of experiences. Utilize that!

Eventually, you will find that you may want to be aware of some topics, but not work on them. For the first couple grades, I think you should follow the curriculum closely as most of it seems to be foundational for playing in general. Later you may be able to just be aware of a topic because it doesn’t seem useful for your goals and not concentrate on proficiency.
As for level of proficiency, that is something a lot of folks ask early on. Look for topics related to when to move on to the next grade. I personally maintain some level of effort improving several modules and move into a new module when I think I have enough mastery to be capable of working on the stuff I see coming up in lesson plans.



Same! I’m 57. Thought I had C sorted but nope. Muting that top E is a real battle. I’m only 2 months but feeling like I just introduced myself to this thing. And don’t get me started on F. :worried:


The C chord is worse than the F chord for my old fingers. It just needs to stretch out. It takes time. Or we will always suffer a little at the C. That would be bad. :laughing:


I’ve managed to do the C stretch okay but muting is still a work in progress. F however……not even close. Trying to mute the E, arch over A, D, G, then lay back down to mute B and E seems impossible.
I’m tempted to have an actual lesson, getting them to show me how to physically manipulate my finger. It’s a beast of a chord


We all have our challenges and then the things that are easier for us but difficult for others. I worked in cars and motorcycles and did woodworking and stuff like that, so my hands were already pelretry tough. I was lucky (?) to be gifted with what my wife calls “meatpaws.” They are not big but sort of spent their lives getting beat about and drug along as I walked :laughing:. So anything that requires brute strength is ok. But anything that requires agility and limberness is my personal challenge. The F chord for me was pretty easy. In fact, it rings true for me more often than not now. But the stretch of the C is something that I still struggle with.

I wish you success on your journey.