Chords are an essential part of playing guitar. If you’re playing rhythm, you need to know them to strum them. If you’re playing lead, knowing them helps to create lead lines. Most beginner guitar players can at least do as much as strum the chords. However, once you get into more in-depth playing, chords suddenly become a lot more complicated.
Learning the fingerings for the basic chords may seem simple enough, but when using them in a song, knowing how to change between them at the right time is the most important thing you will ever need – other than knowing how to properly strum them, of course. This can be a tricky task at first. It may seem like the song is moving faster than you can play and you get tangled up in the process. Don’t worry – perfection of guitar chord progressions will come with time and practice. Luckily, there are several exercises you can do to help you on your way:
This method is a no-brainer, yet it seems to be the most effective. Pick two or three easy chords, such as G, C, and D. Start on G. If you’re not comfortable with strumming quite yet, practice strumming on G for a while, then switch to C. Make sure all of your fingers lift and move across the fretboard at the same time. If you lift one finger, then another, then another, you’ll never have enough time to get to the next chord on time. Don’t anticipate changing chords ahead of time. Anxiety may cause you to jerk and mess up. Instead, know what’s coming up but stay calm and relaxed. This is the root of guitar chord progressions. Practice going back and forth from G to C, keeping this in mind. Once you have the transition from G to C down, try going from C to D. You may have to practice this a bit differently because of the finger pattern for the D chord. Once you have this transition down as well, try going from G to C to D, and then back to G. Practice this for however long it takes you to perfect your chord transitions.
That’s right- blindfold yourself! This will help you relax and rely on the feel of the guitar and memory. Beginner guitar players tend to overthink playing when focusing on the fretboard. There will come a time when you’ll be able to play anything without even looking at the guitar. This is good practice. If you’re still having a bit of trouble changing chords but want to try this exercise, repeat the same steps as before while wearing the blindfold. If you find the previous guitar chord progressions exercise relatively easy now, practice strumming straight through G, C and D, while wearing the blindfold. Before playing, take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let the blindfold throw you off; when you take it off, you’ll find playing much easier.
If you are still having trouble getting to each chord on time when playing along to a song, consider practicing with a metronome. Start out on a slower setting. Count out the number of measures you want for each chord, and make it your goal to change chords with ease while keeping time. When you are able to do that, bump up the speed on the metronome and continue practicing. Keep increasing the speed until you find it impossible to keep up with these guitar chord progressions – which is okay. You shouldn’t expect to be a speed demon at this stage in your guitar-playing lifetime. Most songs don’t require you to change chords that fast, anyway. Once you can play at reasonable speeds comfortably, try playing the same songs without the metronome.
Another quick tip: relax your grip on the neck of the guitar. Squeezing the life out of it will only cause your fingers to cramp up! Also, by gripping the neck too tightly, lifting and moving your fingers to the next chord will be much more difficult. Rest your thumb in the middle of the neck, keep your fingers nicely arched, and don’t stiffen up.
Try these exercises, along with any other methods that may work for you, and soon you’ll be able to switch chords with no problem. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t seem to be improving – practice is the best medicine. Guitar chord progressions are crucial to master, especially when playing rhythm. Just stay confident and soon you’ll be switching chords like nobody’s business!
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