You’ve seen Rob Pethel’s videos on how to teach Barre Chords, now how do you make it musical for your students? We put some song recommendations together for you and your classroom guitar program that involve barre chords, mixing open and barre chords, and barre chords on the E and A strings.

Stray Cat Strut

This jazzy ’80s song with its descending chord progression will leave your guitar class begging for more. It’s one of the coolest chord progressions you can play on the guitar (see below)!


You can play this song with open chords, but it’s an even better exercise when you play it with barre chords. The song is very straight forward and allows students to switch from C major to C minor. If you play the whole song with the bass on the E string, your guitar students will have a chance to shift from major to minor and see what a difference one finger can make! BTW – if you give your young guitarists the chords and lyrics, be sure to cross out certain words.

Hazy Shade of Winter

Most of these chords can be played in open position, but you’re going to need to barre Bb. Sometimes it’s easier for beginners to play all barre chords or all open chords, so be patient. If you’re part of the new core standards and have a written component to your class, ask your guitar students to go home and write about the lyrics (and prep your head because it will spin!).


These chords can be played open or as barre chords. Have your students experiment both ways to hear the voicing of the chords. It’s also easier if your guitar students can jump from barre chords on the E string to the A string. If they do it all on the E string, it will demonstrate how to play efficiently and, more likely, inefficiently.

Hotel California

You can’t play guitar without playing this song a million times. The easiest way to play this song is if you can play barre chords on the E and A strings. If your guitar class is not up to the A string barre chords, no worries – save it for two weeks from now. Most of these chords can be played in an open position, so it will be a great intro to integrating barre chords.

Before you let your classroom guitar students try these songs, you might want to recommend a strumming pattern for them. And, if any of your students have trouble keeping up, remember that they can always play the bass note, a power chord, or a power chord with an octave (add the pinkie) before they move into full barre chords.

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