How quickly can your fretting hand switch from one chord to another? The speed and confidence you have in making chord changes will be key to further mastering the guitar and successfully playing and creating music for the instrument.

The key to learning any instrument, like most intricate human activity, is to develop brain and muscle coordination, more commonly called, muscle memory needed to play the instrument. If you picture a basketball player, for instance, the key to a good shooting performance is the proper hand-to-eye coordination in order to bring the ball up, prepare, aim, and throw it towards the hoop. The different muscles of the arms, wrist and hands will learn the right movements and strength needed to score. Constant practice will condition the brain, eyes, and entire body to know the routine of shooting the ball.

This is similar to guitar playing. The muscles involved would be the arms, wrists and the fingers, with the eyes, ears and brain working in unison to relate the movements to the music being read and the notes produced by the guitar. This is the mechanism that works when a guitar player starts to change chords.

Luckily, there are simple techniques that can help the beginning guitar player to develop these muscle memories and ear training for proper chord changes. Read below and you will see that chord changes are not that difficult to do.

When changing chords, first memorize all the chords involved in the song, and then visualize exactly which fingers of the fretting hand are involved in playing the chords. When playing simple barre chords, the most important finger is the index finger, which will squeeze all 6 strings across the fretboard. So as you move towards playing the chord, you have to position the index finger across the proper fret, or place, along the fretboard before positioning the other fingers of the chord. When playing a broken or simple chord, it is usually the index finger that is the most important finger. Primarily, the index finger and the thumb will form a stable anchor on the guitar neck in order for the other fingers to press the other strings of the chord. The index finger is usually played on the lowest fret and the highest string (by pitch, or string 1), where it could more easily find the proper note, and the other fingers can follow to complete the chord.

When playing a particular song, keep time with the music, but anticipate in which bar and on which beat the next chord will continue. For beginners, it would be preferable to practice the entire song slowly from beginning to end, taking care to change to each chord on time and on tempo. When the student can play the entire song like this without chord errors, he can start increasing the speed to the song’s proper tempo. It would also be helpful to identify particularly tricky chord changes. For instance, 2 consecutive bar graphs would be a relatively simple change, because the guitar player needs only to slide his index finger (which is already in the barre position) to its proper position on the fretboard and quickly press in the other strings of the chord. Changes from simple chords to barre chords – and vice versa – and chords that are positioned at a far distance from each other along the length of the neck are more difficult to perform. Isolate these difficult changes and practice those chord changes. If it is still to difficult with the slow tempo, don’t play the last beat of the last chord and use the time to move your fret hand into position for the next fret. Keep practicing these changes until the short passage can be played without error. Afterwards, go back to playing the entire song as discussed above. When you can play an entire song properly, try different strumming styles to accentuate parts of the song, or a particular beat; or alternate strumming and light plucking to give volume and variety to the music of the song. First, it is best to complete the song by actually copying how the original artist played it on the guitar; then you can add your own twists and extra technique according to your ear and taste. This will help you develop your hands for more difficult chords and finger playing techniques.

Do this for every song, and before you know it, you’ll be playing a new song like a seasoned guitarist in a short period of time.


Guitar Tips Related Articles

The reason why most people who try to play the guitar and are not “up to snuff” is that they give too easily. The problem with these people is that they tend to think that there is something wrong with them and why they simply cannot get the strings to sound right.

In reality, falling short in learning to play the guitar is not based on the capability of the person but more on the kind of style he is using. If he is trapped in a certain level of progress in guitar playing, it should likewise not be blamed on the person but on the kind of approach that he used.

When things like these happen, the only way to get going is to change the style to achieve remarkable results.

In fact, 8 out of the 10 people who were asked what made them continue learning to play the guitar, they answered that it was because they used a wonderful technique that some people take for granted. This approach is known as “feeling the beat.”

People who are considered experts in playing the guitar insist that the only distinction that sets a good guitarist apart from a distinguished guitarist is based on how they apply the approach “feel the beat” to their tune using their instrument.

The basic argument here is that trying to get things going by simply feeling the beat while you play the guitar will absolutely change your style of learning and playing the guitar. When people try to feel the beat as they play the instrument, they get to internalize the pulse of the music as it flows from the strings out to the audience.

This is probably the same reason why some people insist that music is the language of the soul. It is basically the main idea of using this kind of approach.

Music experts assert that it is how the great composers and singers stand out from the rest. When musicians learn to feel the beat, they tend to put the notes into their system and let every tone flow along with the beat of their heart.

The question now is: how do you start feeling the beat. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Internalize the beat

When you want to learn how to play the guitar you must get your emotions ready. Try to feel the beat by listening to the music and bridge a connection between your feelings and the music.

The very core of this approach is to feel the beat of the music flowing into your system.

Once you get the beat connected to your system, take hold of your guitar, and start hitting those strings. Try not to play a song that you already know. The idea is to release the feeling and let the notes flow with what you feel.

2. Play by the ear

As soon as you learn how to feel the beat, you can start playing by ear; this is when you can play the song on your guitar just by listening to it over and over again.

Historical reports show that some great musicians learn to play the instrument by using this approach, because once they start to sense the pulse of the song; they gradually pluck the notes and begin to play the song as they continue to play.

Most people who play the guitar and write songs do not simply use those tabs and musical sheets. They just try to fathom the song by “playing by ear.”

The bottom line is that learning to play the guitar does not have to be rigid and strict or why guitar playing is not specifically exclusive for those talented in music. The instrument is available for everyone, young and old, big and small, boy and girls.
The idea is to take some time to learn the instrument. Trying to feel the beat does not happen in a snap. You have to allot adequate time to start putting the notes into your system.

The truth is that people who failed to learn guitar playing simply lacked the time and patience to do all of these things. Becoming an expert in what you do is simply having the time for it, and if you do, you will start to get the ball rolling and the notes flying in the air.


Guitar Tips Related Articles