One of the most useful learning tricks for guitar newcomers is to learn chords in chunks. You can find many common chord progressions throughout popular music. Focusing on these chords as smaller units will help you in several ways:
Think you're ready to work on some simple chord progressions? Let's start by mastering the A minor 7 (Am7) and C major (C) chords.
You'll find these two peppered through songs like "Day After Day" by the Alan Parsons Project and "Knocking on Heaven's Door," by Bob Dylan.
They're easy to learn, and close enough to one another that switching between them should be a breeze.
First, though, a few notes on technique before diving into the chords themselves:
Now, let's move onto those chords, shall we?
On the guitar, there are tons of fingering combinations that will give you the notes you need. Today, we're going to concentrate on the four you can play near the top of the guitar neck. These are open-position chords, and, in a few cases, might involve a bit more stretching than you're used to.
This chord consists of four notes: A, C, E, and G.
Arguably the easier of these two chords, C Major consists of three notes: C, E, and G.
There's one classic configuration that most beginners go to, which is the first one we'll cover here. There are also two other variants that you can play at the top of the guitar neck:
Now that you know the chord shapes, it's time to get serious about committing them to memory. There are many ways to practice new chords, but, when starting out, try working on making the shapes before strumming.
Make the shape you're trying to learn, then take your fingers off the fretboard. Wait twenty to thirty seconds, then see if you can make the shape again. While you're doing this, visualize the chord's shape and how it feels when your fingers make it. This will help you memorize the chord faster.
With the chord shapes memorized you can get to work on strumming one after the other. This is where your metronome will lend a hand. Start practicing slow, in 4/4 time, switching between chords at low BPMs. Once you can switch at a reduced pace, start cranking up the speed. You don't need to rush; increase by 5-10 BPMs at a time.
Once you've mastered simple strumming at higher speeds, you can start experimenting with advanced patterns. Try something funky. Try something rock-n-roll. Try as many styles as you can until you've mastered these chords. With the chords securely "under your belt," move on, and start using them in a song or two.
What you should notice, if you've practiced right, is that playing these chords within a song is now automatic. You don't need to think, search, or "fret" about getting them right. The chords have become part of your guitar vocabulary, and you can summon them on command in any situation.
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