Guitar Course

This page contains songs and notes for my students
in the Folk Guitar course at the Burlington Senior’s Centre,
Burlington, Ontario, winter, 2015.



Here it is! The recording of our radio show. Let me know what you think.

Radio Show


  1. This Land is Your Land
  2. Riddle Song,
  3. Log Driver’s Song
  4. TRIO: Country Roads
  5. Tennessee Waltz
  6. Peter Barrett: Universal Soldier
  7. Down Along the Dixie Line
  8. TRIO: Funny How Time Slips Away
  9. TRIO: Green, Green
  10. Carolina in the Fall
  11. You’ve Got a Friend in Me

Week 6:

Radio show trial run

A test recording … see what you think:


Week 5:

Two takes on “Down Along the Dixie Line”:

Gillian Welch:

Punch Brothers:

Week 4:

I hope you found something interesting in the material we looked at today. It is challenging stuff, perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but taken together the songs are an example of a different sort of approach to fingerpicking and accompanying a lyric. Lots of variability, but lots of complexity, too. It’s the vocabulary of folk guitar, but kicked up a notch.


Bruce Cockburn, “One Day I Walk”


Joni Mitchell, “Morning Morgantown”


Leonard Cohen, “Bird on the Wire”


This is just something to listen to, as there is a lot of interesting stuff going on guitar-wise. Bruce Cockburn’s, “Let Us Go Laughing”:


Week 2:

The class notes from this week: Winter Week 2_fingerstyle 1

The Riddle Song

Capo to the second fret to play along using the chords given in the class notes.

Can you spot the differences between these two recordings? In both cases, Doc Watson sings, “The Riddle Song.” The major difference, of course, is that the first is a studio recording, while the second is a live recording. Beyond that, what other things are going on?


Riddles wisely expounded (Child Ballad #1)

Capo to the third fret to play along using the chords as given in the class notes.

Listen closely to what Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer do in order to keep the story going, and to keep a listener’s interest. It’s a long, repetitive song, which is very challenging to present, and I think they do a great job.


Week 1:

Fare Thee Well

capo to the second fret to play along using the chords as given in class (it is played here in the key of D)

Click here for youtube version.


This recording is not in the same key as we’ve used in class. To play along, capo to the 4th fret and play as if you’re in the key of C. Here are the chords you’ll need: C, F, G. See if you can do it! It’s actually a good exercise in using your ear to follow along.

Click here for youtube version.

He was a friend of mine

This recording is in the key of D. You can play it open in D, or capo to the second fret and play it as if it is in C:

Click here for a youtube version. This is a beautiful version, and the guitar is played finger style in an alternate tuning. The sound, and the style, is almost—in fact, I’d say that it is—slack key, which is a style of playing that is typical of Hawaiian music.


Log Driver’s Song

This recording is in the key of F. 

This song is written by Mac Beattie and recorded by Mac Beattie and his Ottawa Valley Melodiers. The Ottawa Valley, like Cape Breton, is one of the few areas of Canada that has a distinctive folk music that is still maintained by the communities that live there. Go any weekend to the Pembroke farmer’s market, and you’ll see a fiddler, if not a few, that is worth the drive. Sometimes, locals who have gone on to careers in music, such as April Verch, are there playing along as well. The musical culture really flourished in the dance halls, which were a product of the blue laws–those that forbade drinking and dancing in the same building. When those laws were removed, the dance halls closed down, and the musical culture took a hit. There aren’t the stars there used to be, such as Mac Beattie, but there are many people who keep the music and its culture alive. The fiddle week is the last of August, and it is one of the best festivals in Canada gauged upon the quality and the honesty of the music. For more, see the lovely short documentary from Global TV, The Land Where the Music Lives.

Click here for a youtube version. 


14 thoughts on “Guitar Course

    1. Week 2 p3 shows finger picking patterns for 3/4 time. I am used to fingering T 1 2 3 2 1 (i.e. up and down as in “House of the Rising Sun”) rather than the T 1 2 3 1 2 shown.

      1. Yes, both are nice patterns. The one you are doing is kind of like an arpeggio, down and up. The one on the page is that with a little hiccough in it. Both are nice little patterns, and both would work nicely with “Riddles wisely expounded.” (It’s that a great song title?)

  1. The words I know are: I gave my love a cherry that had no stone; I gave my love a chicken that had no bone; I gave my love a ring that had no end; I gave my love a baby with no cryin’.
    I sang it tonight to Esme when I put her to bed. The answer of the last two is; A ring when it’s rollin’ it has no end; and a baby when it’s sleepin’ has no cryin’.

  2. I was curious so looked it up…”pippin” (among other things) refers to the embryonic stage of a chicken….when no bones have yet developed.

  3. It technically should have the “g”, as I think “pippin” is the present participle (the “is” part of “it’s” is the auxiliary verb). I suppose it could be a gerund, but I don’t think it is in this context.

  4. Wow, great stuff, even my wife was suitably impressed! Burlington Performing Arts (Studio Theatre) here we come!
    Some ideas:
    The Seniors centre has a web site. Perhaps the recording could be posted on that as an advert for the class. Probably need to talk to Heather Pilling.
    One Saturday a month the Senior Centre hosts a breakfast with ENTERTAINMENT. This month was the Footnotes. They get a good turnout as the breakfast is cheap. Perhaps we could perform one Saturday, although I expect your weekends are quite hectic with the family. I think they are booked thro June. Again Heather might be the contact.
    You said you are returning in the Fall. If so perhaps we could do OUR OWN Christmas concert without the fiddlers. It need not be all Christmas music, but throw in some folk stuff too.
    Thanks for all your efforts to make the class fun and exciting.
    Tony Markin

  5. Congratulations everyone! You sound great! My dad sent me the link and I really enjoyed listening to you this morning. Do you know any French Canadian folk songs? It would be fun to have the kids in my classroom sing along.

  6. Hi Glen, you made a very professional recording considering that it wasn’t a proper studio or equipment. My daughter, Melanie & her husband enjoyed it.
    Thanks for all your time time & effort this session to make the class fun.
    My goodness,whatever next will we do?
    Cheers Tony M.

  7. What a wonderful way to savour the music of our life. And learned something about Barry Maguire and Eve of Destruction. Green Green was Great Great!

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