Learning all those confusing guitar chords can be quite daunting. Their shapes and fingerings can flood your brain causing you to forget their names and positions. If you want to start playing guitar chords efficiently, you'll need to develop a memorizing strategy that is both simple and highly effective...
START SLOWLY - LEARN CHORDS IN 2 MAIN GROUPS:
Rather than trying to remember all the chords you come across in every key, learn two, or even one, to start out with. The open chords are where most players begin. Luckily, most of these chords are also simple to play.
OPEN CHORDS and BARRE CHORDS:
After learning a few open chords, (such as the "D, C, G and Em" open chords), you will want to start learning a few barre or "fretted" chord shapes. Barre chords may look confusing and feel awkward at first, but they are not too far of a step away from any of the common open chords. In fact, the "F Major" chord is often the first chord of the barre types that is ever introduced to introductory guitar players.
Barre chords are very important when playing the guitar. Learning just four types of barre chords (two Major's and two Minor's), will mean you'll have access to the entire neck. It won't matter the name of the chord, you'll be able to perform it with a barre chord. Once developed, barre chords are going to give you greater access and if you put all of your focus into them you won't forget them due to their popularity in music.
Once you have a few open chords and a few shapes of the barre chords, begin running across the neck learning several new positions of barre types. And, at the same time return back to the open position and continue learning new open chords as well. Add a capo to your neck and try moving the open chords around to other regions of the neck. After some time you should have a handle on several barre shapes and many different open chord types. Be sure to go slowly, learning only a few at a time.
PRACTICE CHORD SWITCHING:
Memorizing the look (shape) and feel of where your fingers have to go on chord patterns is the end-goal with all chord development. This is why you need to constantly try and switch between TWO chords. When you take a chord you know well, and practice switching to a new unfamiliar shape, you build the muscle memory of how it feels to make the switch.
The switch between two chord shapes doesn't have to be done quickly and should in fact be practiced very slowly when first starting out. Gradually, you'll speed up the transition between the two, and learn how to play all of the chords that you study in songs, (you however don't have to worry about using them in songs at first).
Focus on "feeling" where your fingers should go and build up the muscle memory in your hands. It's harder to forget the chords when you spend hours playing them in drills. You can also try saying the chord names out loud when you play them. This builds the memorization at an even deeper level.
Create a routine of learning a new chord every week. Play it switching against a chord you already know. Use a metronome and practice flipping from one to the other. Work slowly until the changes happen at an easy /comfortable level.
TRAIN ON CHORDS USING A GUITAR COURSE:
A comprehensive chapter by chapter guitar course will not only teach you the correct finger positioning and technique for new chord shapes, a course will also motivate you to practice what you're learning in each guitar lesson.
You may be surprised about how much you can actually play when a well structured curriculum is guiding you along with what material is the best for you to do. Don't only play the material found within lessons though, you need to practice your chords outside of the curriculum too. Locate songs online, study song books of music by famous bands and above all else compose your own original material.
If you're worried about the cost of a course, consider joining a site on a monthly basis at first. The Creative Guitar Studio monthly membership plan is only $19.95 per month. Starting monthly will help you become familiar with how the course operates and online courses will always be cheaper than private guitar lessons with a personal teacher.
WORK WITH GUITAR CHORD DIAGRAMS:
Chord diagrams show a guitar student exactly where to put the fingers and what fingers to actually use. These diagrams will help a student understand what the chord shape is supposed to look like.
Refer to these diagrams when you're stuck because they will help you to visualize what the chord should look like when you play it. Stick these chord diagrams somewhere where you'll see them every day. This includes on the walls where you practice. Seeing them every day will go a long way to helping you to memorize them.
Finally, grab some blank guitar chord diagram paper and write out any new chord shapes that you're working on. Do this daily and develop a solid recognition for being able to draw the chord on paper. Plus, something special happens in the human mind when we take pencil to paper and study drawing out shapes and patterns. We end up being able to retain them better and recall them faster.
LEARN SIMPLE STRUMMING SONGS:
Learning songs that include basic chords will go a long way to helping you memorize chords much quicker than just playing the chords on their own over and over. Try to learn a song that is simple but popular so you can play them to friends and family.
An example would be "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan. This song is easy to strum and can be recognized by almost anybody. On top of that, is only has four chords (G, C, Am and D) and repeats the same progression and strumming pattern throughout the whole song.
This type of song makes it easy to remember what chords are played when, and a song like this is fun to sing along to. Also, when you work on popular songs, it develops the skill of remembering what chords go into the song. This is important since it will also help you to remember what chords look like and how they should sound when applied musically.
- Practice chords for at least half an hour every day.
- Try a few easy chords first, then try more difficult shapes.
- Try to picture (Visualize) the chord in your head before you play it.
- Find someone who knows how to play guitar and play with them.
- A good way to help you transition between the chords quicker is to have a friend call out random chords while you try to play them.
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