If you’re studying music, learning guitar is a great place to start. It’s the perfect instrument on which to learn how to play your favorite pieces of music.
You can also begin composing and jamming once you know the basics of guitar.
Your basic learning blocks are scales, reading notes and tabs, and learning chords.
Whether it’s major, minor, major seventh, or harmonic chords, learning them is a key part of learning to play guitar.
It’s impossible to avoid and it’s important to learn the proper finger positions for the chords so that you can learn how to play a whole series.
Once you can do that, you can really say that you’re a guitar player.
For most beginners, learning guitar can be a rocky journey – the strings hurt your fingers, your right hand seems completely disconnected from your left, and there are tons of chords to learn which all seem impossible.
For anyone who’s trying to learn guitar, we’d recommend starting with the basic chords. The next step is then learning to play them in a series, hitting the right notes, and creating a bit of fluidity…and of course, for your fingers to stop hurting when you play.
You can find tab sets in specialist magazines and on the internet – series of chords to play together and reproduce a piece of music.
But how do you put two chords together without losing your rhythm? How do you keep adding on chords until you’re actually playing a whole piece of music?
Here are a few tips.
To really achieve fluidity in your playing and begin putting chords together, you need to start by recognizing the common factors.
Get the basic chords right
If you look closely at the different chords you’re trying to play, you can benefit from the points in common. Finding these points can help to reduce your movements and improve the fluidity of your playing.
If some of your fingers stay the same between chords, try to keep them perfectly still while you’re moving the rest of your hand.
If you’re just picking up and moving your hand along without changing finger positions, make sure you aren’t moving your fingers as you move your hand. Even in the air your fingers should still stay in position.
By practicing these tips your hand will begin to anticipate the movement of your fingers and your playing will improve.
If two chords contain open notes, it’s an opportunity to play notes that are already there without actually having to put your fingers down.
Learn how to dissect the positions, check to see if you can play the note without having to add any extra fingers.
You’ll save time, and playing a series of chords together will become second nature.
Putting two chords together is composed of up to six small steps that you can adjust based on your level.
First, learn all of your chords by heart, and then work on changing from one chord to another.
Learn your chords so that you can play your guitar freely!
It’s impossible to learn how to change chords and put them together all in one go, even in a guitar lesson.
In summary, here’s how to do it:
Listen well – if you want to be able to play guitar like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, or even Ben Harper, the most important thing that you can do is to practice regularly.
Play the guitar like Ben!
What do we mean by that? How often do you need to practice guitar to begin playing well? Professional guitarists advise students to practice daily, or every other day, for 10 to 15 minutes so that the movements begin to become automatic and second nature. Then your muscle memory can take over when you’re moving your fingers between chords.
If you aren’t motivated to practice on your own, or you’re having trouble mastering the chords, ask a professional for help. They can guide you through the process in private lessons and give you advice on how to improve.
They will show you if you’re sitting badly or picking up bad habits, and correct you where need be.
Learn how to play your chords with a professional!
Having a teacher will help generate immediate feedback on how you’re doing – they can mirror you, and your learning will be considerably enriched.
Keeping a consistent rhythm is a crucial part of playing guitar, and you need to keep the beat when you change chords.
Don’t slow down to change chords and learn how to play with a metronome. This way, you won’t need to think too hard about the beat. Instead you’ll learn to keep a steady, even rhythm and play your chords.
Once you’ve mastered the two chords and your movements are smooth and easy, get a stopwatch to time yourself as you move up and down the neck of the guitar.
Always give preference to quality over quantity – it’s always better to make five clean chord changes in one minute, than to try and get 15 chord changes in, but the sound is all wrong.
We’re not talking about your physical breathing, but about the small pauses between chords when you let the strings vibrate and you move on to the next position.
This pause should always happen between chord changes, and especially on the last note of a measure.
If you want to get technical, when you’re using a pick and changing between two chords, instead of playing both with your pick, leave the last note of the measure empty and use the time to get your left hand ready.
Learn to visualize changing chords.
Close your eyes and picture your fingers in the correct position, and then picture them changing to the next chord.
Focus on that mental image; it will help get your brain ready for the movement, and make the actual action smoother and easier.
If possible, use the fingers that aren’t holding strings as a ‘pivot’ to change positions between chords.
And don’t forget to stay motivated and enjoy playing the guitar!