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If you’ve ever been a beginner, at anything, you understand that feeling of wanting to improve and achieve what you set out to do. And with guitar, you probably want to play anything remotely musical. Ayla Tesler-Mabe has been playing guitar for over eight years but decides to go through that entire beginner stage…again.

She embarks on The Song In An Hour Challenge which is designed for those who want to play guitar but have never played (or even touched) a guitar before.

But Ayla is far from a beginner. How will it be challenging for her? To simulate those awkward beginning phases, Ayla tries the challenge, left-handed! All it takes is flipping the guitar around to throw everything she’s ever know out the window.

Holding the Guitar

The guitar may feel unnatural when you first try to hold it, or in this case, when you hold it left-handed. Everyone’s different, so there’s no be-all-end-all position to hold your guitar. 

But you also don’t want to feel tension when playing. So ensure you hold the guitar in a way that feels relaxed for you and doesn’t hinder you from playing.

Getting a Good Strum

Similar to holding the guitar, there’s no “one way” to strum, but there is an easy way. It’s not ideal to strum the pick parallel to the strings because that requires more effort. So strum with the pick at a bit of an angle! 

Ayla confirms: “The angle is really important to pay attention to. If I had known that when I started, it would’ve been great!” 

Try having a conversation out loud while continuously strumming. This is a great test to know when you got the strumming motion down and are ready to move on.

The First Chord

When playing chords, the placement of your thumb behind the neck of the guitar is key. If you’re unable to reach a string with your finger or your hand feels tense, try adjusting the placement of your thumb. 

It’s normal for the tips of your fingers to feel a bit of pain too, but over time you will build calluses and strength so you can play longer without hurting. Even Ayla’s fingers hurt here too from not being used to using her other hand on the strings. A good practice for switching between two chords is by adding another finger and lifting it on and off.

Playing the Show

Now it’s time to put everything she learned together for the big show! Ayla adds a chorus effect to her guitar to emulate a dreamy 80’s vibe for the song. 

It’s always been a dream for Ayla to jam with Rob, and that dream comes true here. Watch as she performs the “Two Chord” song with the full band.

Practice Makes Progress

It’s interesting to see an accomplished guitar player, like Ayla, go through the struggles of a beginner. She often adjusted her finger placement, or accidentally muted the strings when strumming, and even played the wrong string at one point! It’s a humble reminder that EVERybody has to go through it at some point. 

The guitar is a lifelong journey, and it’s not always going to be easy, but it’s worth it in the end — because the guitar is great! You will eventually build that muscle memory and these beginning steps will soon feel like a distant memory (unless you reverse your guitar, like Ayla.). 

Everything you saw Ayla go through in this video came from the first level of our beginner guitar course, GuitarQuest. You can access this for free and go through the challenge yourself!

Song In An Hour Challenge.


play your first song on the guitar, start to finish, in an hour.
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