Learn Guitar Chords - Six Steps To Better Chord Changes

By Gary Fletcher

Are you struggling with your chord changes? It's easy to get your fingers into a frustrating tangle when learning to play chords. Don't worry about it, though, it's normal. With these tips and a little patience you'll get your fingers playing faster than you ever thought they were capable of.

1. No pressure
When learning a new chord practice without pressing the strings. Simply move your fingers into place and touch their tips lightly on the string. Repeat the movement slowly until your fingers move easily into the correct positions.

This technique let's you concentrate on getting your fingers into the right position. It will be a lot easier to press the strings down properly then. It also helps your fingers to relax, when you're in a hurry to get the fingers into position and strum a chord your poor fingers tend to get all tensed up and make more errors.

2. One at a time
Break the movement down by thinking about one finger at a time. Place the fingers lightly on the strings in the position of the chord you're leaving. What movement does each one have to make to get into place for the next chord?

Try to find the smallest possible movement for each finger. When you have a finger that remains on the same string you can use the string as a guide, sliding the finger lightly along it to the destination fret. Experiment to find the easiest movement and don't be afraid to come back and revise after working on other fingers.

3. Follow me!
When working on your fingers one at a time as the previous tip suggests you'll find it's a good idea to choose a lead finger that you place first for each chord.

A finger on the bass strings is generally a good choice to be the lead. This has the advantage of being easier to locate as it's playing the root note of the chord. The other fingers are then placed relative to this root note.

Another advantage is that you can get the bass note in place quickly to play it on the first beat. You can follow up with a strum on a later beat, leaving you a little extra time to get your other fingers in place.

4. Silence is golden
Don't strum or pick while you practice chord fingering, focus on making the chord shapes only with your left hand (or your right, for the lefties out there). Separate the steps like this and learning chords will become much easier for you.

When you've got the fingers moving smoothly into position you can start working on strumming or picking. Start by just pressing the strings down and pick them one by one to ensure they all sound correctly and are not muffled.

Then you can start strumming in rhythm, but remember to go slowly at this point. Don't suddenly be in a rush to play through the chord changes at full speed. If you practice slowly and concentrate on accurate finger placement the speed will come with time and practice.

5. Economy of movement
The less distance your fingers move when changing chords the better.

Beginners frequently lift their fingers away from the strings when releasing a chord. This forces the fingers to move further at each chord change and is a handicap to developing speed.

So, when changing chords, keep your fingers close to the strings, ideally only just releasing contact with them.

6. Relax
Don't get so carried away with your practice that you forget to take a break.

Stretch and wiggle your fingers to relax them. Place your palm on a flat horizontal surface such as a table or your thigh. Let your arm go limp and relax your hand and fingers completely. Take a few slow, deep breaths while you're doing it.

When you resume your practice you'll be more concentrated. You might even be surprised to discover that your playing has improved during the break even while you weren't practicing; while you were doing something else your mind kept working on the problem in the background.

Introduce these six techniques into your practice routine one at a time and you'll be amazed how easy learning new chord changes becomes. You'll have the confidence to tackle songs that you avoid now because you feel the chords are too hard for you to play. Your chords will become cleaner, and you'll be able to change faster and with less mistakes.

So get practicing and polish off those new songs you've been wanting to learn.

Gary Fletcher is an experienced hobby guitarist and writer. He believes that playing music is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. Visit http://garysguitarblog.blogspot.com where he offers tips and encouragement for those who want to learn and share guitar playing.

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