The 30-Day Guitar Challenge Week 3

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Day 15: ‘Dead Flowers’ Pre-Chorus

Main Task: Learn the pre-chorus of ‘Dead Flowers’.

The pre-chorus of ‘Dead Flowers’ is even easier.  Same strum pattern.  Two measures each of A Major and D Major.  Play that line twice.


Day 16: ‘Dead Flowers’ Chorus and Full Song

Main Task: Learn the chorus of ‘Dead Flowers’ and put the whole song together.

The chorus of “Dead Flowers” uses the same strum pattern and chords.

Notice the repeat bar (dark double bar with two dots) at the end of the first line.  That tells you to go back to the beginning of that line and repeat it.  Normally you would repeat it once, but the “3x” says to repeat it three times here.

After playing the first line three times, play the second line just once as normal.  That’s the chorus!


Putting It All Together

Now you have all the parts of the song and can play the whole thing.

Intro – Verse 2x
Verse 4x
Verse 4x
Solo – Verse 4x
Repeat last line of chorus

1. Go back and watch the video again:
This time pay attention to the different sections and how they match up with the chunks you learned.

  1. Play the song through by yourself a few times.
  2. Try playing the song along with the video.

If you’ve got the song down at this point, great!  If you’re still shaky on a few parts, don’t sweat it.  Everyone learns at a different pace and it’s not a race.  You can go back and review the chunks that you’re having trouble with and getting a running start at playing the whole song again.


Day 17: Watch The Video

Main Task: Today you need to simply watch the video for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day.

Here’s the link:

Do these two simple things while watching the video:

  1. Have your guitar in your lap even though you’re not playing anything yet.
  2. Tap your foot and/or tap your fingers on your guitar in time with the music.

Super easy!  Tomorrow we start into learning a new chord.


Day 18: The E Minor Chord

Main Task: Learn the E Minor chord.

Today we’ll learn the new chord we need for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, E Minor.

Do these two things to learn the E Minor chord:

  1. Memorize the fingering.
  2. Pick each of the six strings in the chord to make sure they’re all coming out clean and clear.

If a string isn’t coming out clean:

  1. Move your finger closer to the fret wire. You should be just behind, but not on top of it for the best sound.
  2. Press down harder on the string.
  3. A finger on the string next to it could be rubbing on and damping the sound. Figure out which finger is the culprit and move its position slightly to get it out of the way.

Be patient with yourself. You’re developing tiny muscle memories that will serve you for a lifetime of guitar playing.  But they don’t always come immediately.

Major and Minor
Major chords sound happy.  Minor chords sound sad.  Later on you’ll learn more about what makes that happy, but that’s all you need right now.


Day 19: Moving Between E Minor and G Major

Main Task: Strum E Minor and G Major on quarter notes back and forth for one measure each without missing any beats.

Today you’ll practice moving between your two chords on a quarter note rhythm like you learned on Day 5.

Start with your E Minor chord and strum two beats of quarter notes on it.  Then switch to G Major and do the same.

Your goal is to not stop the rhythm in between chords.  Practice going back and forth between E Minor and G Major until you can do it smoothly and without losing any beats.

1. Practice moving between the two chords with no strumming so you can concentrate just on your fretting hand.

  1. Close your eyes and repeat the same move from Step 1. By closing your eyes you’re forcing your brain to divert more concentration to your senses of touch and hearing.
  2. Open your eyes. Now, while switching between the two chords, tap the body of your guitar with your strumming hand in a quarter note rhythm. Two beats for each chord.
  3. Now do the full movement. You’ll strum 2 quarter notes on each chord and move back and forth between Em and G. Try not to pause when you change chords.
  4. Keep your strumming hand moving. VERY IMPORTANT! Force your strumming hand to maintain the rhythm even if your fretting hand isn’t secure on the chord yet.  You’ll have some mangled chords on the first beat or so, but that’s ok.  That will start to clean up quickly.

Day 20: ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ Strum Pattern

Main Task: Learn the strum pattern for ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’.

The strum pattern for ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ is very similar to ‘Dead Flowers’.  Here we’ll use a quarter followed by two eights and then two eighths followed by a quarter.

Essentially it’s the same exact movement as playing all eighth notes, except you’ll miss the strings on the “and” of beats 1 and 4.

  1. Try strumming the pattern on your E Minor chord and your G Major chord separately.
  2. Alternate two beats each between E Minor and G Major without pausing or missing any beats.

Reminder: Keep your strumming hand moving.  If you mangle some of the chord changes, that’s fine.  That will cure itself with more playing.  But never let the rhythm drop.


Day 21: All-Downstroke Eighth Notes

Main Task: Learn the strum pattern for ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ with all downstrokes.

This is the exact same rhythm you played in yesterday’s lesson.  The only difference is that now you’ll use all downstrokes with your pick instead of the alternate picking we’ve used previously.

Remember: The rhythm is exactly the same as yesterday.  Only the direction of your pick changes.  If you’re having trouble locking into the groove, go back to using alternate picking, get it in your ear, then try all downstrokes again.

Using all downstrokes lends a more aggressive sound to the rhythm.  It’s very common to see in rock, hard rock, metal, punk, etc.

Reminder: Keep your strumming hand moving.  If you mangle some of the chord changes, that’s fine.  That will cure itself with more playing.  But never let the rhythm drop.


Watch your email for your Week 4 tasks!