#1
Hey,

I'm a beginner and I have a few general questions regarding technique. These questions came up, when I was practicing chord changes. My overall question was: When can I consider myself proficient in changing from one chord to another? Which factors would have to be fulfilled?

I was practicing changing from a D- to a C-chord

I practiced VERY slowly, so I could actually follow what my fingers were doing and notice where the problem points were

The first step in every chord change - I thought - is to know the starting point (in this case the D-chord) and the destination point (the C-chord). Before worrying about changing from one chord to another, I need to be able to play both chords separately.

So I would start out with getting my starting point, the D-chord, right.
Here are the points I considered while trying to get the D-chord right:

- What is the ergonomically best position for the fingers when playing the D-chord. Or in other words: Look out and avoid uncomfortable positions when I can reach the same goal with a more comfortable position
- Put the fingers as close to the frets as possible. This way I need less pressure.
- Find the exact spot on my fingertip that yields the greatest control over the string, when pushing it down
- Use only as much pressure as necessary
- Get aware of and let go of any unnecessary tension in my fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and the entire body
- the sound has to be clean

Ok, those were basically all points that came to mind while trying to get the starting-chord right. I'm sure there are other points that I'm not aware of. Let me know what you think about my points and which ones I might be missing.
After being good at playing the D-chord I would go through the same points with the C-chord. And only after being able to play both chords well separately, I would go on and try to change from D to C.

Here are the points that I considered when practicing changing form D to C.

- Go VERY slowly, so I could have maximum control over my fingers
- Avoid unnecessary movements of my fingers. Only move as much as is necessary for accomplishing the chord change. Try to keep my fingers as close to the fretboard as possible
- Right after leaving the D-chord position, get my fingers - while in the air - into the exact position for the C-chord. The goal should be no to have to correct anything once my fingers get close to/land on the strings
- Try and land my fingertips in the exact same spots on the strings (the ones I had figured out before to be the best for the C-chord) every time. Avoid landing them slightly differently every time I change chords.
- Do all movements with as little tension in the fingers, hands and other body parts as possible.

What do you think about these points? Which ones am I missing? How's my approach?

Ok, that's basically what came to my mind, when trying to change chords. Of course it all depends on how high your goals are with the guitar. If you want to be able to play on an average level, you probably won't have to worry so much about these points and other things that seem to be going much into detail. - However, if you want to become really good, my idea was that it does not make sense (in the long run) to leave something (like changing from D to C) before you haven't mastered it to some degree and instead go on with something else, like another chord change. What I was trying to do above is to come up with a list of factors, each of which should be fulfilled, in order to consider something mastered and only then proceed to the next thing. - Or would you disagree and say that it's ok (even when having high goals) to be able to somewhat change from D to C and just go on with other stuff, since over time it'll improve more or less automatically? - It's actually quite a general question regarding practice approach.

All comments, suggestions, tips, critique are welcome!
Greetings,
giutar
#2
That's a lot of text, TS.

You will know when you can consider yourself proficient in chord changes. Trust me. Something else to keep in mind... As you progress down the road of playing guitar, you will likely continue to learn and add new information and skills to your playing. What I'm trying to say here, is that you're always learning. While I can proficiently play most open chords, barre chords and jazz chords without any problem, there are still some jazz chords I struggle with. So, you're always working on becoming proficient at something.

I didn't read all your text, but you have the basic idea. Work on efficiency. If a finger doesn't need to move to play the next chord, or it can stay on the same string, just move the ones you need to play that next chord - be as efficient as possible. Work on keeping your tone and volume constant from one chord to the next. Don't worry about mastering D to C. It will eventually come in its own time. Go slowly to analyze what you're doing, but also don't be afraid to play a little faster than your comfortable. This will help to push you to the next level. This is a technique I've used on guitar and piano. Practice with a metronome, but don't be afraid to put it away and just play and have fun.
#3
So much text for something that happens in a couple of seconds. Not much to add, though I'd also try some faster changes on occasion. Like after practicing it slowly for a while try a few as fast as you can and see what motions are different with your hand and try to keep those motions when going back to slow practice, this time relaxing as much as you can.

Really mastering it is about repetition, so just practice the change a minute or two and move on to another chord change for a couple of minutes, then go back to D-C and so forth. Practicing just one thing is not the most efficient way to practice, the muscles need a break from one thing often and so does the brain.

Also remember to rest and maybe shake your hand after every 10-15 repetitions of a chord change.
#4
@KG6_Steven
Thanks for your input!
This advice was especially helpful to me: "Work on keeping your tone and volume constant from one chord to the next. "
Also to play faster than I'm comfortable in order to improve.

@unrelaxed:
Thanks for your help!
You wrote: "Like after practicing it slowly for a while try a few as fast as you can and see what motions are different with your hand and try to keep those motions when going back to slow practice, this time relaxing as much as you can."

I understand what you're saying, but what's the reason/goal for this exercise? Should I become aware of the difference in motion between slow and fast practice and adjust the motion of the fast version to the slow one? Or should I not change the motion of the fast version and just learn to get more comfortable with it while relaxing it during slow practice?

And you wrote: "Really mastering it is about repetition" . - True, but it's also important to make sure one is repeating the right thing. -Otherwise one repeats and masters something suboptimal

Also a good advice is to rest and shake my hand every once in a while. -I tend to forget that.


Can anyone say anything about these 2 approaches that came to my mind while practicing chord changes:

- Right after leaving the D-chord position, get my fingers - while in the air - into the exact position for the C-chord. The goal should be no to have to correct anything once my fingers get close to/land on the strings for the C-chord

- Try and land my fingertips in the exact same spots on the strings every time. Avoid landing them slightly differently every time I change chords.


Thanks!
#5
D to C is a pretty tricky change actually. When you have a chord progression with D, C and G in it, I like to teach people to use Cadd9 instead, which allows you to keep the 3rd finger in common between all 3 chords, and makes changing between them much easier. This video (not me!) gives an overview - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okzm19_nn10

All the approaches you're mentioning are excellent, the attention to detail will pay off! I would suggest spending some time practising getting the chord changes in time, even if they end up a little bit scrappy. Once you have the chords sounding okay then you need to integrate them with your strumming.

Finally, this video might help you out, it's all the little tricks I use for changing between open chords. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DcjDp5Iexw
#6
Quote by giutar

@unrelaxed:
Thanks for your help!
You wrote: "Like after practicing it slowly for a while try a few as fast as you can and see what motions are different with your hand and try to keep those motions when going back to slow practice, this time relaxing as much as you can."

I understand what you're saying, but what's the reason/goal for this exercise? Should I become aware of the difference in motion between slow and fast practice and adjust the motion of the fast version to the slow one? Or should I not change the motion of the fast version and just learn to get more comfortable with it while relaxing it during slow practice?

And you wrote: "Really mastering it is about repetition" . - True, but it's also important to make sure one is repeating the right thing. -Otherwise one repeats and masters something suboptimal


The point of the exercise is to find the better motions by playing fast, but when playing faster than you're comfortable with you tense up. So then you have better motion with tension, so just release the tension by playing slowly. With guitar the correct motion is often obvious when playing slow though, so just do this at times to check that your slow practicing is good.

About repetition, yes you're right, and that's why keeping your mind fresh by changing the exercises often is important so you can keep your concentration near 100%. Also, the change in the motion often should make less of a chance for RSI or something like that to appear.
#7
@freepower

Thanks for introducing the idea of the Cadd9 to me. - The video was very helpful.
I also liked the video where you show the chord changes.
I see the importance of being able to play the chord changes in time. - I use a metronome for that matter.

It's very good to hear, that you think my approaches are good. - Even if going in so much detail might seem exaggerated, my idea is that sooner or later, one has to deal with the details, if the goal is to get really good. - So why not deal with the details right from the beginning? (Along the lines with what you wrote in your technique guide:"because almost every problem.....has been down to correcting the basics)

I'm actually reading Jamie Andrea's book at the moment and also saw you reccomending "The Natural Classical Guitar", which I want to read next. Do you have any other book suggestions, that go into the direction of theses 2 books?

And thank you for your commitment on this forum. I like your approach to guitar and have already learnt quite a few important things from your posts and videos.


@unrelaxed

you're right about changing exercises for keeping concentration and avoiding injury.

I'm still not quite sure I understand the reason for the exercise. You wrote: "...to find the better motions by playing fast". I always thought the opposite is the case: The best motions can be found when playing slow. And then one should try and play these motions faster.
#8
The Natural Classical Guitar is a brilliant book, better than the Andreas book imho. Guthrie Govan's Creative Guitar 1 and 2 are excellent, although the second deals mostly with advanced techniques, Guthrie's approach and playing of examples are brilliant.

I'm glad you've enjoyed the vids and posts, just try and pay it forward in the future!
#9
Quote by giutar
you're right about changing exercises for keeping concentration and avoiding injury.

I'm still not quite sure I understand the reason for the exercise. You wrote: "...to find the better motions by playing fast". I always thought the opposite is the case: The best motions can be found when playing slow. And then one should try and play these motions faster.


That is true to an extent, but there are small things. Maybe you rotate more forearm when you trill and you don't do this when playing slow. Or maybe you rotate more forearm when you pick. There are things you don't notice when playing slow, and when you try to go fast you could hit some speed walls because of them.

I learned this method on the piano though and have heard very little about people using it on guitar, so you can just go only slow and I doubt the progress will be much slower. Bursts of speed are still recommended though. To get the fingers used to it.
#10
@freepower:

Thanks, Guthrie Govan's books are on my list now.
I hope I'll get to a level , where I can help out others like you are doing.

@unrelaxed

thanks again for explaining. - Now I've got the idea. If there's a name for this technique (even if it's mainly for piano), it would be interesting to know.