Guitar/Campfire Diploma

The Campfire Diploma


The Campfire Diploma is the first part of a multi-volume guitar school in the Wikibooks project guitar. The first volume teaches the basics of playing the guitar for hobby guitarists, that you can't get along without. The campfire diploma, including all songs, sheet music and tablature for guitar lessons, may be freely copied and used free of charge.

Learning goals for 8 lessons

  • 6 chords:
  • 5 strumming patterns: 4/4, railway, western, 3/4 and campfire strumming patterns
  • quick chord changes (i.e. chord changes within a measure or within a strum pattern)

Despite the very limited learning material, on successful completion of the course you will be able to accompany hundreds of songs.

  • Over 70 copyright-free songs are available with lyrics and chords.
  • Furthermore, over 130 popular songs are suggested. (Although without lyrics, but with chords and links to YouTube )

You will be able to accompany many popular songs in addition to the typical scout songs.

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something
  • American Pie – Don McLean
  • Country Roads – John Denver
  • Father and Son – Cat Stevens
  • Knockin on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
  • Let It Be – Beatles
  • Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
  • And and and ...

Unfortunately, due to strict copyright law, it is not possible to publish popular song lyrics with the appropriate accompaniment, but you can find the examples in many song books. We'll give you tips on which chords you can use to accompany well-known songs. This helps if the arrangements in the songbooks are not so convenient for the guitar beginner.

What you learn here will accompany you throughout your entire life as a guitarist. You can build on these basic techniques and come back to them again and again.

  • In the subsequent Folk Diploma you will learn more basic chords and accompaniment techniques.
  • In the Rock Diploma you will learn power chords and barre chords, and the topic of rhythm will be deepened.
  • In the Ballad Diploma the harmonies are expanded and further picking techniques are taught.
  • In the Rock Ballad Diploma you also transfer the extended harmonies to the barre chords and get a taste of jazz.
  • Other volumes such as Solo Guitar
  • or Melody Picking complete the guitar course.



A lesson is intended for one unit per week (the time to practice and repeat the lesson is not included). There are a total of 8 lessons that teach chords, rhythms and a little harmony, so a lesson can have several chapters. In youth groups where there is a lot of singing (scouts, church youth work, etc.), many texts and melodies are familiar. These can be used as practice examples and you make rapid progress. If you have to concentrate more on learning the individual songs in class, each lesson can be spread over two or three weeks.

The lessons are structured in such a way that the material (i.e. the chords and strumming patterns) of the previous lessons is repeated. Therefore, you can move forward with the lessons, even if the last one is not yet completely error-free. Even if you miss a lesson in the group, the learning curve is so flat that you can easily make up for what you missed. So that the repetitions don't become boring for the other students, they are packaged in new songs.

The 8 lessons of the Campfire Diploma are designed to last two months. However, self-learners should plan a little more time.

Lesson 1
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Lesson 5
Lesson 6
Lesson 7
Lesson 8

What is the “Campfire Diploma”?


The guitar courses on Wikibooks are aimed at hobby musicians. Based on the Pawn Diploma (along with the Rook Diploma and the King's Diploma) of the German Chess Federation, the Wikibooks' diplomas (Campfire Diploma, Folk Diploma, Rock Diploma, Ballad Diploma, etc.) offer beginners the opportunity to declare that they have reached a certain level of playing the guitar.

You achieve a diploma by being able to play a collection of songs that cover all learning objectives. The diplomas can be issued without examination by any guitar teacher (including volunteers) who has received the order from a public institution or organization (municipalities, schools, church institutions, music schools, adult education centers, etc.) and who has the diploma with a stamp the organization can have it certified. The songs don't have to be played from memory, nor do they have to be 100% error-free. However, you should have a minimum of security when it comes to rhythm and grip changes.

With the “Campfire Diploma” you have enough chords and percussion techniques to accompany songs (around the campfire) for well over three hours without repeating yourself.

You don't get just any campfire diploma, but the campfire diploma. The term campfire diploma and the other diplomas are new words created by the author Mjchael and were adopted specifically for the Wikibooks. Any use of this term therefore refers to the learning content and learning objectives conveyed here. Every guitar teacher is welcome to advertise with the term "campfire diploma" as long as he refers to this Wikibooks course and includes an easy-to-read link to the campfire diploma or at least the guitar book as the source, so that it is clear that it is a Wikibooks book acts.

From an idea to a concept


In a Boy Scout camp there was the following rule: If you didn't have a minimum level of skills, you weren't allowed to touch a guitar. The aim was to protect both the guitars and the nerves and ears of everyone involved. This is how the idea for the campfire diploma came about. This course provides such a minimum of knowledge and skills.

The Campfire Diploma represents something like a 'free float of guitar playing'. The knowledge imparted is a "must" for every guitarist. It doesn't matter whether you want to play the electric guitar, western guitar or classical guitar.

From concept to practice


Before the Campfire Diploma was introduced as a book for the German Wikibooks in 2006, the teaching concept had already been used, tested and further developed for several years. With their campfire diploma , educators, teachers and leaders of youth groups have the courage to put their newly acquired song accompaniment skills into practice in their groups. In addition, the online course has been and is constantly being read and improved by members from various guitar forums and Facebook groups. Errors that are noticed are usually corrected immediately.

More tips


Although the courses (campfire diploma and following) are intended for self-learners and have been formulated in detail [1] , it should be mentioned that you learn faster with a teacher. If no one is available, tips from an experienced guitar player can also help.

It's also worth taking a look at one or two guitar books. Books have the advantage that you don't have to sit in front of the PC, but rather wherever you like. In addition, books and teachers are not limited to copyright-free exercise examples, so they may offer a larger selection of songs.

Forming the D chord
Campfire Diploma
  1. There will be a lot of reading material for you, especially in the first lessons. Unfortunately, I'm not sitting across from you and can't show you what one or the other means. Short, isolated comments during class take much longer to read when they are edited into a book. Advanced guitar players may forgive me if in some places I explain in detail topics that may seem trivial. Please remember that there were times when you were grateful for help. From the readers' reactions and discussions, I know that they have been infected by the fascination of the guitar, but due to a lack of time and perhaps also a lack of money, they cannot afford a teacher, or that there is no suitable teacher to be found in their area. In guitar forums you could see that even the simplest topics can be a problem for beginners. So I give what I hope is an easy-to-understand answer to all the common questions and problems that keep coming up with my students. I have summarized the comments that come during a lesson in a separate chapter. I hope you don't take it personally if I assume that you (like me in the beginning) make all the mistakes that one can make in the beginning. However, if you are a natural and make fewer or no mistakes, then consider the overly detailed explanations as a tip or help if you want to give guitar lessons to even a mere mortal. So don't be put off if it says a lot somewhere. That doesn't necessarily mean it's hard.