#1
I'm new to guitar, I've been learning the chords A, D, C, G, E, Em, Am.

I can play these chords but It takes me a while to form each chord position, apart from A which I can do without even looking.

i.e. I will have to put one finger on one string followed by the other fingers. With A I can put all 3 fingers on the fretboard at the same time.

Is it more important for a beginner to be able to play these chords without having to adjust their fingers. When I play G should all 4 fingers hit the fretboard at the same time? Is that the level to aim for?

My guitar teacher seems to think the best way for me to learn is by playing basic songs like Wild Thing and Sailing.

But I'm not sure if I should be doing chord switches until I can play each chord without thinking, or adjusting my fingers when they touch the fretboard.

Some advice would be great.
#2
You should definitely be working on switching chords at the same time - It will seem tough at first and it won't sound great either, but being able to think on your feet (or in this case, fingertips) is what you should be aiming for.

If you don't work on switching chords and just work on playing the chords themselves, it will actually take far longer for you to develop a good understanding of the chords in an efficient way. By working on switching, you will also see what chords have in common - for a lot of chord changes there are fingers you won't even have to move, or at least just need to move up by one string or fret. As a result, it's not so much a case of 'getting all the strings on at the same time' but more about being able to move around confidently from chord to chord. It will probably sound messy at first, but the more you practice it the better!
I was bad with usernames at age 12. Ah woe.
#3
I think you can spend some quality time getting the fingering exactly right, but then make sure you spend time on the chord switching. I'd recommend playing songs slower than normal (even *way* too slow at first) and make sure you keep the beat. It will force you to make the chord changes faster because you only have one beat to get it done. You can go back later and spend time on using finger tips etc. But to develop the muscle memory to get to the chords fast, you just need to only allow yourself one beat to do it. Then speed up the songs until they're normal speed.

If you want to get a little technical, on some songs if you're doing something with the bass note only or the top notes at the beginning of the measure, you might be able to emphasize getting the top strings fretted first (and you have an extra fraction of a second to get the rest stable), but at this point, I wouldn't worry about that.
#4
Thanks for the replies.

When learning a song should I break it down into smaller chord changes or should I aim to play the whole song in one go?
#5
Regarding breaking it down or playing the whole song? I highly recommend both. So keep playing the whole song as an entity and try to do the whole thing and keep precise timing (even if it's slowed down). If you hit a part where you just can't do the chord change (eg, changing from the D-chord to a G-chord), then stop and just work on that for a while, and isolate that one change. Then I would go back to the song. But my thinking is to spend more time on the song over the practice session than just one small chord change. Whenever you hit a stumbling block, it's good to spend some time on that in isolation - I think that's what you're getting at.

Another thing you can do is to just create your own "song" that has the chord change every 4 beats in the same order as your original song. Then you're mainly focusing on the chord changes and nothing else. As another side exercise, just randomly switch between all the chords you know, every 4 beats, so that you get used to all of the transitions.
#6
Got a playstation? Get Rocksmith.
We got it for christmas and wow...I play bass, been taking lessons for 4 months or so. 2 hours playing on RS, just playing songs, has improved my ability to move around the fret board.
My daughter is new to guitar and is improving too - even though she's having the same issues as you it's forcing her to move and MOVE NOW! Gotta keep up with the song.

With the cost of lessons here being $100ish a month the game is cheap. The real test will be next week when they go back to school I plan to try the 60 day challenge and learn guitar..something my fingers/brain have been unable to grasp over the past 40 years.

I am surprised how much I've improved with just a couple of hours of fooling around with RS.
#7
I've been practicing today and already I can see some good improvement!
It's like my left hand moves by instinct.

Switching chords is definitely the way to go. Even the dreaded C to G switch has improved.

Thanks guys!

I just bought a new guitar this weekend with a nice low action (compared to the cheap one i had before) it has given me the motivation not to give up.