BEGINNING GUITAR with Adrianne Serna

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About This Course

Learn to play guitar from scratch and sing some of your favorite songs with simple but powerful chords and strum patterns. Includes 24 great songs to play, with chord and lyric sheets. 



Singer-songwriter Adrianne Serna has released three albums, whose songs have been featured on radio stations including Northern California’s KRSH, Tucson's KXCI, Cleveland's WRUW, Honolulu's KTUH, Arkansas’s KASU, and Maine’s WMHB. 


Adrianne’s infectious vocals and wonderfully catchy songwriting have been heard on commercials for IKEA and Kellogs, as well as NBC’s Minute to Win It, ABC Family’s Jane by Design, MTV’s Friendzone and Jersey Shore, The CW Network’s The Beautiful Life and The Greening of Whitney Brown (a feature film starring Brooke Shields and Kris Kristofferson).

Adrianne is an in-demand guitar teacher in Marin County, California, where she specializes in teaching beginning guitarists to play and sing the songs they love.

Beginning Guitar Course Overview
Watch the video above for a taste of what you’ll learn in Adrianne Serna’s Beginning Guitar course.

Sample Beginning Guitar Lesson

Play and Sing “Orphan Girl”

Gillian Welch's song “Orphan Girl” was first recorded by Emmylou Harris on her classic Wrecking Ball album. It has become a bluegrass jam session favorite. You can play “Orphan Girl” with just three chords—G, C, and D. With Chord and Lyric Sheet

Questions About Your Course?

If you have questions about the course or a specific lesson, you can email

Beginning Guitar Lessons

A subscription to Beginning Guitar includes:

  • 24 complete songs to play
  • Chord tutorials for 11 essential guitar chords
  • New strum patterns (with variations) introduced in each lesson
  • Advice on tuning your guitar, changing keys, using a capo, and more
  • Chord-and-lyric sheets with recommended strum patterns for all songs
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action

Get started now! Use promo code “GuitarLand” at checkout and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription. Subscribe to Beginning Guitar today and get access to all of these beginning guitar lessons.


Before you get started playing songs, there are a few things you’ll need to know, including how to tune your guitar and how to refer to the guitar’s strings by numbers and letter names. You’ll also learn how to use a capo.


You can get started playing the songs in Beginning Guitar if you know C, G, D, and Em chords. In these 11 individual chord tutorials, you’ll learn where to put your fingers when you need to play the C, G, D, and Em chords, as well as A, A minor, E, D minor, D7, F, and B7. You’ll also get great advice on fretting-hand finger position and how to make sure your chords ring out clearly.


24 great roots songs to play, with recommended strum patterns and full performances of each song so you can sing and play along. All song lessons include Chord and Lyric Sheets.

  • Eleanor Rigby You can play the popular Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” with just two chords: C and Em. Learn a handy strum pattern you can use in hundreds of songs in many styles: down, down-up, up-down-up.
  • Concrete and Barbed Wire This great alt-country song is in 3/4 time and uses G, C, and D chords. You'll learn a waltz-time rhythm pattern as well as how to find the bass root notes of each chord.
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken This old hymn was first recorded by the Carter Family in the 1930s and has become one of the most popular songs in traditional music. Learn to play it with a simple “bass down-up” pattern using alternating bass notes.
  • For What It’s Worth Stephen Stills’ 1960s classic, which Rolling Stone ranked as the 63rd best song of all time, uses E, A, D, and C chords and can be played with a variation of the down, down-up, up-down-up strum pattern. You’ll learn how to mute the strings for a percussive effect, and how to use a capo if the original key is too low for you to sing.
  • This Land Is Your Land Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land” has been sung by everyone, but do you know all the verses? You’ll learn them here. Adrianne shows you the chords in the key of D and a couple of basic strum patterns.
  • Here Comes the Sun Learn a version of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” arranged for beginners. The original was fingerpicked, but Adrianne shows you how to play it using key-of-G shapes and a gentle strumming pattern. 
  • Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show’s hit song “Wagon Wheel” has become a popular song at campfire singalongs and jams around the world. It uses G, D, Em, and C chords, and you’ll learn three new strum patterns.
  • Killing the Blues “Killing the Blues” has been recorded by many people, including Shawn Colvin and Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. You’ll learn “Killing the Blues” in the key of D, using D, G, and A chords, and a strum pattern using all downstrokes. 
  • Stand By Me Originally written and recorded by Ben E. King in 1961, “Stand By Me” has been recorded more than 400 times since. You only need four chords to play “Stand By Me” (G, Em, C, and D), and you’ll learn a couple of new percussive strumming patterns.
  • I’ll Fly Away The gospel classic “I’ll Fly Away” is a standard at bluegrass jam sessions. Learn the version sung by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. It’s in the key of D, and you’ll learn how to find the bass notes in D so you can play the alternating-bass pattern.
  • Your Cheatin’ Heart Hank Williams’ song “Your Cheatin’ Heart” has been covered by Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and many others. You’ll learn to play it in the key of G, using G, C, D7, and A7 chords, and a new version of the C chord: C/G (“C over G”).
  • Orphan Girl Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl” was first recorded by Emmylou Harris on her classic Wrecking Ball album. It has become a bluegrass jam session favorite. You can play “Orphan Girl” with just three chords (G, C, and D) and a simple strum pattern that accents the second and fourth beats of each measure.
  • Say Darlin’ Say The traditional song “Say Darlin’ Say” is a relative of the classic lullaby “Hush, Little Baby.” You only need three chords to play it (D, G, and A) but the chords change in slightly unusual places. Play it old-time style with a simple bass-down pattern or add an upstroke for the bass down-up pattern. 
  • California Stars From Wilco’s album Mermaid Avenue, an album of previously unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie, “California Stars” is a great song for beginners because it uses just three chords (G, C, and D) and has the same chord progression all the way through. You’ll learn the rhythm pattern that Wilco guitarist/singer Jeff Tweedy uses and how to use “palm muting” to get a funky, rhythmic feel.
  • Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door Bob Dylan wrote “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” for the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. You’ll learn a couple variations on Am and C chords as well as the strum pattern Dylan played.
  • Keep Your Eyes on the Prize The folk song “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” has been recorded by Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, and many others. It’s in the key of A minor, with Am, Dm, E7, and C chords. You’ll learn a simple bass run to play between chords.
  • Country Roads “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was John Denver’s most popular song. You’ll learn “Country Roads” in the original key of A, with a capo at the second fret, using G, Em, D, C, and two new chords: D7 and F. 
  • Wayfaring Stranger The traditional folk song “Wayfaring Stranger” has been recorded by lots of people in many styles. The chords you’ll need for “Wayfaring Stranger” are Am, Dm, E7, F, and C. You’ll learn a couple of different ways to play an F chord and how to do a muted bass-down strum with an alternating bass.
  • Bring It on Home to Me Sam Cooke’s classic 1960s R&B ballad “Bring It on Home to Me” is fun to play and you only need four chords to play it, including two new chords: G7 and C7. You’ll learn how to modify G and C chords to play the new chords with a simple percussive strum.
  • Teach Your Children Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s hit “Teach Your Children” is from the band’s classic 1970 album Déjà Vu. It’s is in the key of D, and uses four chords, D, G, A, and Bm. Bm is often played as a barre chord, which can be difficult for beginners, but Adrianne shows you a few easier ways to play Bm. 
  • Up on Cripple Creek The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” uses G, C, D, Em, and F chords. You’ll learn a few different strum patterns, including the “Bo Diddley” beat. 
  • Hallelujah Leonard Cohen wrote and recorded “Hallelujah” in 1984, but the song is better known as a Jeff Buckley song and has since been recorded by lots of people. “Hallelujah” is in 6/8 time so you’ll learn a couple of different ways to play a simple strum pattern in 6/8. 
  • Folsom Prison Blues Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is a country classic. You’ll learn it in the key of E, with E, A7, and B7 chords, and a capo at the first fret, to match Cash’s recording on Live at Folsom Prison.
  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain The country classic “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” was recorded by Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, and many others. This version is based on Willie’s recording. It’s in the key of E, and you’ll learn a bass run that connects the E and B7 chords.

Beginning Guitar Source Material

Check out these songs featured in the Beginning Guitar course.

If you're finished with the Beginning Guitar lessons, you can move on with the Roots and Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar course, Fingerstyle Guitar course, or one of the other Peghead Nation Courses. It's easy to change courses on your My Account page.

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