Susan C. Anthony

Beginning Guitar Folk Songs

Beginning Guitar Folk Songs PDF booklet
Related resource: Beginning Guitar Worship Songs

When I taught 6th grade, I opened each day with couple of singalong songs. Many students wanted to learn to play guitar themselves, so I put together a book with the easiest songs I could find. I wanted children to enjoy early success and retain their enthusiasm, so that even if they didn't become proficient as a child, they might be encouraged to perhaps follow through and learn more later in life.

I hope this booklet will help people of all ages learn enough guitar to accompany themselves and others in singing folk songs. I have fond memories of camping with my family as a teenager. We'd sit around the campfire and sing. Other campers heard the music and wandered over to join us. There's something special about singalongs. Even people who "can't sing" can have a great time singing along. It's an opportunity to lose your self-consciousness and enjoy the moment! Who cares if the music would please a critic?

The first songs in this book require only one-finger C and G7 chords and easy strums. From there it gets a little more difficult. It's been said that guitar is one of the easiest instruments to learn to play, yet one of the most difficult instruments to learn to play exceptionally well. Thankfully, you don't need to be a virtuoso to accompany yourself and others in singing. A few chords will play a lot of songs! I play nearly all of my songs (hundreds of them) with just these chords:  C, C7, F, G, G7, A, A7, Am, D, D7, Dm, E, E7, Em, and B7. I use only two bar chords with regularity: Bm and F#m. With a bit of fancy finger-picking, a few chords go a very long ways.

How did I learn to play? I grew up in the Colorado mountains, and became interested in learning guitar after one of the few movies I saw as a child, The Sound of Music. My parents gave me a $10 guitar the next Christmas. I found a program teaching beginning guitar on local educational TV. I ordered a couple of books through the mail and within a year could play with some competence. My parents then surprised me with a new $25 guitar. It wasn't my birthday or Christmas, just a special surprise I've never forgotten. After college, I played and sang professionally for awhile, earning enough money to buy a Martin D-28, which I own today. Recently, we bought a $25 guitar at a thrift store in California because it is now expensive to take guitars on airplanes.

To my great pleasure, some children who began with this Beginning Guitar book went on to become accomplished guitarists, much better than I will ever be. Our grandson is blessed with long, flexible, double-jointed fingers. His hands play chords my fingers can't contort to reach. As with everything, people differ in their natural capabilities. Thankfully, you don't have be talented to enjoy making music.

Listed below are the contents of the Beginning Guitar PDF booklet.

Songs with C and G7

  • Are You Sleeping?
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Long, Long Ago
  • Skip to My Lou
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  • Tom Dooley
  • He’s Got the Whole World
  • Billy Boy
  • Down in the Valley
  • Pick a Bale of Cotton
  • Polly Wolly Doodle
  • Streets of Laredo

Songs with G, D7, C and G7

  • This Old Man
  • Buffalo Gals
  • Shenandoah
  • She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain
  • The Keeper
  • This Land is Your Land
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
  • Bamboo
  • You Are My Sunshine

Songs with minor chords

  • Shalom
  • Hey Ho, Nobody Home
  • Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill
  • Battle of Jericho
  • The Drunken Sailor
  • Sinner Man

Songs with C, F and G or G7

  • Cool Water
  • Good Night, Ladies
  • Oh, Susanna

Songs with A, E, and D

  • Michael Row the Boat Ashore
  • When the Saints Go Marching In

Go on to Learning from Travel
Source:, ┬ęSusan C. Anthony