Make Your Learning Curve Easier: Part 1

Any guitarist with experience has been there - the stage where one wants to be able to play and switch chords with ease, but just can't. Whether it's finger pressure or hand positioning, a little practice goes a long way.

Ultimate Guitar
Being self-taught, I didn't necessarily have someone to "hold my hand" per se when it came to one of the most difficult parts of the beginning stage of my - and anyone's- guitar playing: getting enough finger pressure on any given chord and applying it to a progression.

If you're reading this lesson with an intent to learn, keep in mind I was sitting in your EXACT position nine years ago.

The first and most important thing to do if you want to see improvement is to keep a consistent practice schedule. Thirty minutes a night for at least 5 to 6 days a week is a solid starter regimen if you want to see results in a timely manner. The most important thing during any practice time is that you remain undistracted throughout the duration of your practice.

Concentration is key if you want to see maximum improvement within a given time frame. All in all, if you remain consistent with how you practice, you'll be seeing results quicker than you'd even expect.

Start with your basic chords and get a feel for the neck and how much pressure you should apply to the strings. Most people starting out use a death grip to play basic chords, then stop only after a little while when their fingers turn Smurf purple. If you only apply enough pressure so that the chord comes through cleanly, your fingertips will have an easier time getting used to the strings, and your transition to the next chord will be much easier. Start with an E chord, applying the correct amount of pressure so that the chord can be heard clearly.

Arpeggiate the chord if you need to to ensure each string can be heard. After you play the E chord, switch to an A chord. Again, use only the pressure you need to and arpeggiate each string in the chord. After you get a feel for the finger pressure, start switching between the two chords and make a progression. Start slowly at first and really get a feel for the neck. This particular progression uses all 4 fingers and will get you used to the neck fairly quickly. After you feel comfortable with those two chords, throw another chord in the mix and repeat the process.

When you switch chords, only raise your fingers off of the strings just enough for you to make a full, quick transition to the next chord. Ultimately, the less time you take to switch chords, the smoother your playing sounds. At first this concept may seem difficult, but your transitions WILL become faster over time with enough practice and determination. In some circumstances, some fingers can "carry over" to the next chord, meaning those fingers don't even need to be lifted in the transition to the next chord.

If you take everything in this part of the lesson into effect, your playing will get noticeably better quicker than you may think. I will gladly add more parts to the "Make Your Learning Curve Easier" series if there is interest from anyone. Let me know your thoughts, and rock on!

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