Guitar Lessons for Kids: How to Read a Guitar Chord Diagram

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Welcome to a new series of guitar lessons for kids! Over the last five weeks, you learned some of the greatest guitar riffs of all time! Now, it’s time to tackle another important musical concept: chords. Over the next five weeks, we’ll teach you 5 must-know guitar chords for kids! Before we teach you how to play your first chord, however, you’ll need to know how to read a guitar chord diagram.


What is a Guitar Chord, Anyway?

A chord is three or more notes played simultaneously. Chords are played on all types of instruments like ukuleles, pianos, harps, organs, xylophones, harmonicas, and—of course—guitars! There are many different types of chords like major chords, minor chords, suspended chords, and power chords. (By the way, power chords—the coolest guitar chord of all—are the exception to the rule. They do their own thing with just two notes. Boom!) 


Why Should I Learn Guitar Chords?

The three basic elements of all music are melody, rhythm, and harmony. Don’t be scared by the word harmony. It’s just fancy talk for the study of chords and their relationship with one another. Here’s the really great thing about guitar chords: Once you learn a handful of guitar chords, you can play just about any song! That’s crazy talk, right? Nope! Why? Because just about every song uses chords. They’re the basic backdrop of all popular music. That means you can play just about any song—from Imagine Dragons to Ed Sheeran—with just a few guitar chords.


How Do I Read a Guitar Chord Diagram?

A guitar chord diagram is a sort of map for reading chords. Once you know how to read it, you’ll be empowered to learn any guitar chord on your own! Now that’s leverage! Reading guitar chord diagrams is really simple:

  • The right line represents the skinny, high E-string.
  • The left line represents the thick, low E-string.
  • The shaded line at the top represents the nut.
  • The horizontal lines represent the frets.
  • The dots represent where you put your fingers.
  • The circles represent open strings.
  • The X means don’t play that string.

The example below is an A Major Chord!

How to Read a Guitar Chord Diagram


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Next week, you’ll learn your first guitar chord: the might E major chord! In the meantime, you can contact us on the Rock Dojo Facebook page if you have any questions!



The Rock Dojo offers award-winning, introductory-level guitar lessons for kids after-school in Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Lake Oswego. You can check out the Rock Dojo FAQs to learn how our colored-belt systems works (hint: it’s like karate. As your students improve on the guitar, they graduate belt levels just like the martial arts). Do you have a specific question about our guitar lessons for kids? Drop us a line at (503) 484-6417 or contact us on the Rock Dojo Facebook page.