Instructional Ideas for Guitar Students and Teachers
My student was struggling to make smooth chord transitions. She played great, once she got her chords formed. Strumming wasn’t an issue, but switching between chords was quite a challenge. We were working with G and C in open position. It was taking her until the second beat of each measure to fully form her chords. That’s a super common occurrence, not a big deal to solve. It just takes some patience and knowledge of how to break down necessary practice techniques into smaller pieces. I’ve found that students are more likely to practice if they feel like they have the proper knowledge and tools to practice.
It would be quite wrong of me to demonstrate how I’m able to change chords, turn to the student and say, “now you do it.” They’re likely to get frustrated and quit, or wonder what’s wrong with them. That’s where a good teacher comes in. Time to break down the practice regimen into smaller steps so the student feels like their making progress along the way until they finally reach their ultimate goal.
Keep your right hand movement very simple. Play one down strum on each beat, that way you can really focus on the left hand.
Use just two chords when practicing your switches. Don’t try to play a series of chords, much less an entire song. Take two chords at a time until you get through the entire song. Keep it simple!
Play the root of each chord on beat one. Let it ring through the remaining beats. Make sure to use the designated finger for that root. Play very slowly for 2 measures in 4/4 time. Use a metronome. It might be easier to set the metronome to the 1/8th note if you have trouble following super slow quarter notes.
When you get comfortable playing the root of the chord, and you’re locked in with the metronome, then work on adding the remaining fingers necessary to complete the chord. You’ll have the bass note on beat one. The remaining chord tones will follow on beats two, three, and four.
Jamming with a metronome – it will be much easier to feel the groove and to know where you are when you only play one bass note in each measure. If you can jam with a metronome, you can jam in a band – as long as they have good time like you.
A little Music Theory - you should be more comfortable with where the bass note is for each chord – you have a beginning foundation for how chords are constructed.
Ultimate goal of switching chords – You’ll have these chords rocking and rolling in no time if you take your time to focus on these basic, but very important details. Remember – “Excellence is in the Basics.”
Future Solutions - learning and understanding how to solve this problem will translate to lots of other challenges that you’ll face on your journey to become a kickass guitarist!! What are you waiting for? Grab your guitar and get going!!
Until next time – Surf it Mellow my brothers and sisters – the MD