Power Chords are one of the greatest things about guitar. Just put your index finger on a bass note on the low E string then put your ring finger down on the A string two frets over (or use the A and D strings). Done!
You can use power chords as a proxy for any major or minor chord which is what makes them so versatile. Using power chords you can start teaching chord structure, music theory, rhythm, and more…not to mention some cool music!
Here are 5 easy songs you can play with power chords that your kids will eat up!
Bad to the Bone
This is a classic (80s) blues song and George Thoroughgood plays a solo that you should only try if you’re..well, bad to the bone! Use G and C power chords to play throughout! You can tell your students to play both chords with the bass on the low E string or tell them to play the G chord (on the E and A) and drop directly beneath it to the C chord (on the A and D strings).
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Check out these chords – F5, Bb5, Ab5, Db5. The flats make it look intimidating, but just start out with the power chord shape on the F (bass note: 1st fret on the low E string), then play the power chord located directly beneath it on the Bb (bass note: 1st fret on the A string). Next, move your power chord shape to Ab (bass note: 4th fret on the low E string) and drop down to Db (bass note: 4th fret on the A string).
This classic Troggs song is an absolute must for any guitar class! The power chords are A5 D5 E5 D5. Start out with A5 (bass note: 5th fret on the low E), next drop directly down to D5 (bass note: 5th fret on the A string), then slide the power chord shape two frets higher to E5 (bass note: 7th fret on the A string), and back down to D5 again. So easy, and a fun song to get your students out of the first three frets.
Sweet Home Alabama
Play this Lynard Skynard song for fun or if your next gig is on Broadway in Nashville. Start out on D5 (bass note: 5th fret on the A string) move over to C (bass note: 3rd fret on the A string) then bring the power chord shape up toward the sky to G5 (bass note: 3rd fret on the low E string). The move back to D5 from G5 might be a little challenging for your beginning students, but that is why we have rehearsals. If they can play the open chords, tell them to play D – C – G using open chords and describe the difference.
Stand By Me
A little more complex than the songs above, but you’ll be happy you did it! The chord progression is a classic I – vi – IV – V so it’s a great one for music theory. Start on G5 (bass note: 3rd fret on the low E string), then E5 (bass note: open low E and B on the A string – 2nd fret), next play C5 (bass note: 3rd fret on the A string), followed by D5 (bass note: 5th fret on the A string), then back to G5 again. If you can get your class to play the open chords on this one as well, you’ll have a great time. Note: if you play this song at a school concert, everyone will love you!