Lesson Excerpt: Learn to Play ‘This Little Light of Mine’

By Peter Penhallow | Excerpted from Traditional Songs for Beginning Guitar

“This Little Light of Mine” was a popular song in the ‘50s and ‘60s and was often sung at civil rights rallies. Brenda Lee, an original “girl singer” of that era, performs “This Little Light” in her inimitable country-pop style on Country Gospel Classics (Madacy Christian 50992). The Oak Ridge Boys lend their classic vocal harmonies to a nice modern country version on Common Thread (Word Entertainment 41185).

This song introduces B7, Em, and A7 chords, which serve to spice up this otherwise three-chord arrangement in G. The last eight bars can be a bit tricky, especially the quick change from G to B7. With practice, your fingers become so used to the shapes of the chords that these kinds of changes become automatic.


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Try playing through the first eight measures.

If you’re discouraged by your progress, sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Learn 15 American folk songs with tab, standard notation, chord diagrams, and complete lyrics.

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