Here are two more interesting emails I have got this past week.

I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…


Email #1 

“Dan, I’m not sure how to phrase this but is it cheating to for instance play a D chord with your index finger just blocking out the first 3 strings on the second fret and using your middle finger on the 3rd fret B string?”


Not at all, it’s not often, but there are some instances I do this…

Usually when I want to use my pinkie to play fret 5 of the high E string to add some melody notes to the chord.

There are a thousand ways to do many things and often we need to use some of these different ways at different times.


As you play more and more, you’ll use more of these options to suit you as and when needed. One thing I tell everyone is that it’s great to look for alternative options.

Some people will tell you there is only one good way to do something.

Rarely, that’s the case.

Of course, keep it simple where you can, but having multiple options to play things like chords is certainly useful, especially as you advance.


Email #2

Shirley got in touch last night regarding my email yesterday, where I talked about someone who struggled for the first two years of her playing. I talked about how it’s the way the guitar is taught that is usually the problem, not the student. This was Shirley’s reply…



However, it is not always the teacher who created the issue(s)

  • Self-taught initially
  • taught a couple of chords from a friend
  • jumping the gun without the initial ‘baby steps’
  • wrong method used for that particular person
  • not perfecting the initial basics
  • YouTube, not all uploads are accurate

In the classroom, another student starts to instruct without having learnt themselves. Parents will pass on what they know. Especially, giving a young child an adult guitar, a full-size violin or cello, or even giving their child a trumpet before they have developed their second teeth. 

Yes, teachers can be a problem – e.g. I had a young student come after two years of learning the piano from a recorder teacher because the teacher had reached her limit… the hand position was the worst I have ever seen, no sense of rhythm and still one hand at a time…

I believe a beginner NEEDS an experienced teacher who can instantly check that muscles are safe, keeping a beat, and most importantly, the student is provided with appropriate learning material that engages and promotes learning in a fun and meaningful manner.

My teaching philosophy is based on discovering where the student is musically (I’m very happy when it is zero) and building on what they know, and this varies greatly from student to student. 

Dan, I love your emails cheers”



Shirley, as you can probably tell, is also a music teacher.

To be clear, I was not just talking about “official” teachers who cause problems for students.

Anyone who teaches you – be it a friend, another player, a random YouTuber, etc. can create issues.


I’ve never seen Shirley teach and there was something I disagreed with her a while back, but it’s clear she shares some of the same values as me – the fact she said “check that the muscles are safe” is one obvious indicator of this.

You could go on YouTube and watch 100 videos and hear no mention of things like keeping muscles safe.


It’s always worth asking anyone who teaches you about technique and asking for advice on tips on relaxing, playing with a light touch, reducing tension, etc.

Doing so will give you a good idea of what they’re about.


Speaking of keeping your muscles safe, one time you especially want to be extra careful with this is with barre chords.

Do them wrong, and pain, strains, and injuries may happen.

Do them right however and you’ll open up a whole new world in your playing.


To find out more about how to do them right, you may want to check this out…

The Ultimate Guide to Barre Chords


Have a great day

Dan Thorpe

 Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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