Amazing Grace (1st Variation)

In the April/May edition of Guitar9 we learned the theme to perhaps the most well known hymn of all time, "Amazing Grace". This time around will be learning and playing the first of two variations. Let's discuss a couple of potential problem areas.

Performance Notes

  1. Attempt to play the entire variation as smooth and connected as possible. Do not move your left hand fingers until the last possible moment. A good example is at the beginning of the 1st variation in measure 17. You will want to play the measure as a chord rather than individual notes.
  2. Be careful to always emphasize the melody of the piece so that it does not get lost in all that is going on around it.
  3. The pull-offs in measure 20 need to be rhythmically even and crisp or the entire measure could sound 'muddy'. Also the pull-off in measure 23 must not be overplayed or it can create an annoying snap.
  4. In the beginning of measure 24 there is a 16th note scale passage with an open string on the second 16th note.You will want to make sure that the note is allowed to ring until the 'and' of the second beat in that measure.

Once you have learned the 1st variation try to play the piece from the beginning up to measure 30. Actually measure 31 begins the second and final variation which we will discuss next time. As always have fun learning and playing. If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact me. See you soon with the 2nd variation.


Steve Pappas is a guitarist, composer and teacher from Ohio specializing in fingerstyle guitar who believes in daily practice, and expressing emotions and feelings through his playing.

His latest CD is entitled "Refuge", a blend of Folk, Spanish, Classical, Latin and Rock influences.

Steve Pappas

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