The Best Johnny Cash Songs Every Guitarist Should Know

johnny cashDo you like Johnny Cash?

If not, I personally don’t think you should be allowed to be a guitarist. Johnny Cash represents a lot of things to a lot of different people, and his life, as controversial as it was in many respects, has had a huge impact on the course of music in the last few decades.

His musical style is so distinct: not quite rock, not quite country, not quite bluegrass, and not quite blues, that it deserves to live on for centuries.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Cash’ music, and love playing it at gigs. Regardless of what you think of the man himself, there’s no denying that many of his songs are well known and can be tailored to almost any occasion, from a solo coffee shop open mic night to a grand stand backed up by a full band.

Here are my two favorites:

I Walk The Line

Of course I Walk The Line is at the top of the list.

This is hands down one of the best songs Johnny Cash ever wrote, and is virtually synonymous with his name. The song has a guttural, pseudo-country style, and captured the thoughts and feelings of an entire generation.

Despite that, it’s actually not that difficult to play, as long as you make a few alterations to the way it’s performed in the original recording.

I recommend most guitarists keep the original chord progression, but alter the melodic lines and interludes to fit their own abilities.

Get the I Walk The Line tab from http://acousticguitarchords.org. See the full lyrics here.

You Are My Sunshine

The other epic song you need to know is You Are My Sunshine.

Interestingly, this song became so famous and is played in so many different variations and arrangements, that many people don’t know it’s originally by Johnny Cash.

Like I Walk The Line, it’s surprisingly simple to play, and you can play it just about anywhere. Most people know the song, and many love it (as long as it’s played well). I’ve even played it for church gigs and weddings!

Get the You Are My Sunshine tab to start learning it now. See the full lyrics here.

Mastering Guitar Scales for Beginning Guitarists

scalesIn my experience, most students who want to start learning the guitar want to jump immediately into playing popular songs.

They’re eager to learn their first few chords and a few basic strumming patterns, and then start playing and singing like nobody’s business, excited to fumble through a tune they know!

While this is great and I love to see students with that level of enthusiasm, it’s also key to remember that mastering the guitar in the long run isn’t just about playing a few great tunes. You also need to master the technical side of the guitar.

A Quick Illustration

Think of your favorite guitarist, whoever that may be. Now think of one of his (or her’s) best solos.

What sticks out in your mind?

If you’re like most people, you picked a performer and a solo that probably has a ton of technical mastery within it.

For example, listen to these clips of 7 great metal solos:

Keys to Success with Guitar

Many beginners don’t realize that most of music can actually be broken down into a series of scales, and one essential ingredient to becoming a good musician is to truly learn each and everyone one of those scales.

Let me say it again, the key to success with your instrument is to learn guitar scales. If you can do that, you will be able to play a much wider range of songs later on, and even be able to solo effortlessly over them, in a way that displays your natural technical ability as well as musical taste.

But it all starts with the scales.

Online Courses

One recommendation I have for many students is that they sign up for an online lesson program. You can contact me to schedule a Skype lesson, but I also encourage everyone, including my own students, to join one of the larger guitar programs out there, like Guitar Tricks.

The reason is because these programs provide a number of different video lessons with different teachers, giving you a range of perspectives, and they’re available for a very low cost.

It’s a great supplement (but not a replacement of) working with a private, individual teacher. Read the course review to learn more.

Another option is to go with a subscription to one of the great guitar magazines. See this list of good music magazines focusing on guitar techniques and learning to improve your playing.

Easy Disney Piano Songs for Beginning Pianists

disneyOne of my favorite parts about teaching piano to a variety of ages is that I get to explore a lot of different musical styles and dig up fun arrangements of popular tunes.

As my inner kid would have it, I absolutely love when a student wants to learn to play a disney song on piano, since they can be great examples of fun songs that are actually manageable for a young pianists. Of course, we use different arrangements depending on the student’s skill level (and age), but we can often adapt most of the songs to be as easy or difficult as we need them to be!

Here are a few of my favorites.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas is one of my all time favorite Disney movies, though that might mean I’m already beginning to date myself!

The best song to learn for a beginning pianist is Colors of the Wind, which is a popular choice throughout many music education books. The melody is simply, and there are only a few basic chords, which means students can have an easy “two-finger” version of the song to play!

Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial if you’re interested in learning this one!

Aladdin

Aladdin is another great movie to go to, mostly because of A Whole New World, which is really well known even among my younger students, and is pretty easy to play.

I have several different versions of this song, which allow me to work on it with students at different levels of their piano career!

Click here for Aladdin music.

Frozen

Of course I can’t leave off Frozen! Never in a million years! Not only is this the most popular Disney movie to have come out in the last decade, but it is filled with tons of great songs.

Inevitably, when students as about Frozen, they almost always want to play a version of Let It Go. This is by far the most popular song of the movie, and if I think it’s right for the student, and that they can have a good chance of learning it well, I’ll let them give it a shot.

Otherwise, I often recommend another song from the movie if I don’t think they’re ready for Let It Go. Do You Want To Build a Snowman, for example, is one song that is almost always a home run, and I have a really great transcription of it that’s easy enough for just about anyone!

If that’s something you’re interested in, I recommend you visit this website of easy Disney songs to learn Let It Go or Do You Want To Build a Snowman!

I hope this post helps you get some good ideas for fun songs you might want to play. Again, one of the reasons I love to work on Disney songs with students is because they can be appropriate for every age and just about every skill level, whether you’re in your first few months of lessons or have been studying piano for years!

 

Welcome to HamandEnos.com!

learn musicHey there and we just wanted to start off our blog by welcoming you to the newly revamped Ham and Enos website!

We used to be a space to publish information about our own artistic and musical endeavors, but we’ve decided to scrap everything and take a new start, focusing purely on how to learn an instrument if you’re just getting started with music, and we will focus specifically on piano and guitar, our two primary instruments and by far the most common choices for students who have never been introduced to music lessons before!

This change comes with a shift in our own focus from producing our own art to spreading our love and passion for music with everyone else, and as we each take on larger studios and teaching commitments, we decided it would be a good area to focus on!

For now, we’ll just leave you with this quick video on beginning piano and how to start to approach learning piano!

We’ll be back soon with more info on both piano and guitar, and look forward to spreading the love!