It is common for beginners to make a lot of mistakes, when it comes to practicing chords on guitar. Before you say, “Tell me something I’m not aware of”, let me clarify that I’m not talking about the technical mistakes in your guitar playing.
Guitar being a physically demanding instrument, there are several aspects of guitar technique, required to get your chords sound clean. This is what troubles most beginner guitar players, and makes them quit after trying for a while.
What you need to understand is that there are some proven methods you can use to improve your chord playing, while avoiding the common mistakes that stop beginners from progressing faster on rhythm guitar.
I’m going to list down 5 easy to implement, but highly important chord practice guidelines for you here.
If you are making any of the mistakes listed below, then try to incorporate the changes I suggest here and see your chord playing improving much faster
This is the first and most basic mistake that every guitar player is guilty of making. I myself have been prey to this one many times as a beginner. It’s only after you advance that you realize how big a mistake this really was. You know that playing chords involves using both right and left hand at the same time. However, what you need to realize that it’s harder to train your brain to do multiple things at the same time, and it’s much easier to teach yourself to do 1 thing at a time.
I’m not saying that you have to always practice this way, and never try to play chords while strumming, that is where you want to reach. But the fastest way to get there is to first practice the chord shapes and changes without using the right hand at all.
So here’s what I recommend you do. Turn on a metronome or drum beat and try switching the chords only with your fretting hand every 4 beats, then 2 beats then 1 beat, or increase the speed. Do this for a while before moving on to strumming the chords and you’ll find that you are much better at playing chords now.
Most beginners feel that just forming the chord somehow on the guitar is good enough, and this is a huge mistake. If you don’t land all the notes together, then you are not playing the chords correctly. In order to train your hands to do that, your fingers need to remember the whole shape as one, instead of thinking of it as what each finger is doing.
There’s an easier way to train your brain to do this, through a squeeze release method. So whichever chord you are trying to learn, you can form the chord shape on the guitar and squeeze down on the strings as hard as possible. Now every 4 beats, try to release the pressure applied without breaking the chord shape. Once you get this basic exercise down, try to move your fingers away from the guitar fretboard, slowly but progressively further, WITHOUT BREAKING THE SHAPE. This will train your fretting hand to remember the chord shapes as a whole, and you’ll be able to master the chords faster.
This is an easily ignored, but one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, when it comes to make sure that your rhythm playing does not sound like a beginner. Once you have trained your hands using the above 2 methods, you need to focus on some isolated time on getting the strumming hand independent of what happens in the fretting hand.
So practice your chords with drum beats or metronome, and whether you are able to make the chord change in time or not with the metronome, you are not going to stop your strumming hand. This will ensure that your music doesn’t suffer because of your lack of mastery over some chords. This will also build the independence required between both hands to ensure that your Rhythm playing sounds good and on time.
Just like how a professional sportsman performs extremely basic drills before an actual practice session, as a guitar player you also need to get into the right physical and mental frame of mind before your actual practice. Chord playing can be very demanding for your fingers, especially during the early days of learning guitar. It’s important that you get your fingers ready to handle this challenge during every practice session.
Ignoring to frequently log and track your chord practice is a huge mistake, and would cost you a lot of time and effort in improving it. Tracking your chord playing exercises for speed, stamina, precision, sound is crucial for rapid progress. All you need is a metronome, a timer and an optional recording device for getting this done.
So next time you sit for chord practice, check for how long you can play the chords cleanly without burning out, check how fast you can perform the chord progression using a metronome, try and record the exercise and check how clearly you are doing it.
Over a period of time, you’ll see measurable progress in terms of speed, stamina and precision and that’s when you know that you are ready to take on more challenging chord progressions.
So there you have it. 5 simple and easy to apply steps that’s guaranteed to make you progress faster on guitar. Apply these, and you’ll realize that improving your chord playing becomes way easier than you thought it would be.
You’ll also find that a really good guitar teacher would always help you accomplish great rhythm guitar improvements through various other methods at a beginner level.
So if you find it difficult to implement any of the above steps, then find the right guitar teacher who can help you easily achieve these and many more correct chord practice habits.
Dhanesh Sarangadharan is a certified guitar teacher in Pune, Maharashtra India, who helps solving guitar learning problems quickly and helps students progress faster towards their guitar playing ambitions.
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