Dan Zanes

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Up Above My Head

Chords and Strumming

Dan Zanes Lesson >

Up Above My Head > Chords and Strumming

Greetings Guitar Friends and Neighbors! Let's get serious about bar chords and let's get serious about African American Gospel music, in particular the amazing Sister Rosetta Tharp. Up Above My Head is a beautiful song for 1001 reasons and in this lesson we'll look at the guitar possibilities in the key of Dm. If you want broader context I suggest tuning in to watch some of the live videos of Sister Rosetta Tharp that are readily available. Her guitar playing is inspired, to say the least. I've broken it down quite a bit here but once you have the basics you can, of course, play it in your own style.

Let me know how you're doing...summers here and that means more time to practice!!

Dan Zanes




Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Up Above My Head

Loop 1:05  What You Will Learn Today

Loop 2:48 Breakdown of Chords and Song Form

Loop 10:51 Practice Loop of Chords and Strumming

Loop 11:32 Muting The Chords

Loop 14:46 Closing Thoughts

Loop 16:25 Practice Loop of Whole Song


Download the Sheet Music PDF






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Jay Oct 24, 2017

hi Dan, Oct 12 I posted a couple of variations on endings for Up Above my Head. if you have time to check them out, i'd be grateful for you feedback.


Dan Zanes
Dan Zanes Oct 24, 2017

Hey there Jay! these are awesome. I played through them all and two things jumped out at me. One, your ears are definitely hearing the possibilities, and two, you've got the chops to really find your way through. I love that you went deep on this one! I think that once we unlock the secrets of these types of runs we can take huge steps forward as players. It's great to see you in this process. Do you have someone that you jam with sometimes? A lot of what you're doing now is great in a 2 guitar setting, too. Both as instrumental breaks and as a way to fill the spaces between vocal lines.

You can do a call and response song like up above my head and have the guitar play the response using 2 note riffs...just a thought if you want to go deeper. i might try that myself tonight and see what it would sound like....

thank you for sharing this with me Jay. You're really taking some big steps and I love seeing this unfold!!


My apologies for the delay in replying...

Your pal,


Jay Oct 12, 2017

thanks for the encouragement, Dan.

here's a vid with a couple of variations on endings for the tune. Hope you enjoy. There seems to be no end to what you can come up with. Such a great tune thanks for introducing us to it.

Jay Oct 10, 2017

Thanks Kip


Jay Oct 06, 2017

hey Dan, here's a solo part for this great tune. hope you like it. well actually - 2 solos, each one a bit different. i've incorporated some of the ideas you've been teaching.

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Oct 10, 2017

Jay - cool picking and singing!

Dan Zanes
Dan Zanes Oct 10, 2017

hey there jay!

i've been away performing and just saw this...really great, man!

i'm going to get my guitar out and take it apart. there's a lot here that i'd like to make sure i can play.

i particularly like the riff you play when you come back to the Dm chord, the one where you slide up 2 frets.

i really appreciate you going deep on this one. your working is paying off in a big way!!

yr pal,


Jay Sep 09, 2017

so, a whole sole verse, eh? that's a good challenge, i'm going to work on that and get back to you.

thanks for your feedback, much appreciated.

Jay Sep 01, 2017

hey dan, jul 28 i posted a video of this song, and was hoping for your comments.

best regards,


Dan Zanes
Dan Zanes Sep 05, 2017

hey there jay!

damn...how did i not get back to you? this is awesome! the rhythm is super solid, the singing is right on too. and i love the licks you put in towards the end. i'd love to hear a whole solo verse with more of those, they really work well!

if i were to offer anything, i'd say hit the hammer ons a little harder so that they really pop out. they can make the guitar come alive and they're already there but i'd say get them so they're really hopping.

i really appreciate this, cousin. again, apologies for the delay!

yr pal,


Jay Jul 28, 2017

back at yoiu with another tune Dan, how're things on the Sonic farm?

best, Jay

Jay Jun 04, 2017

you're a hit dan, my grand daughter says she loves this, and this is what we're listening to now as she goes to bed. i play this for her, and a couple of your other tunes as well. i'm liking this social music. i get it. it's great.

Dan Zanes
Dan Zanes Jun 05, 2017

greetings jay!

you're living the dream, man. i really appreciate hearing this. this isn't always the way to look at music lessons but i've always believed that there's so much learning that can take place when we're playing and having fun with each other.

i just attended a "sound health" conference down here in DC - music and the brain - and your daughter's life will forever be changed if she's growing up in a musical household. keep it up, brother and get her playing whenever she's ready!

yr pal,


tim james
tim james Jun 02, 2017


Dan Zanes
Dan Zanes Jun 05, 2017

hey there tim!

thanks, man. you KNOW i appreciate the support!

this has been so much fun for me. keep letting me know that i'm track for you...

it helps, brother!

yr pal,


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