One of the first step in learning to play the guitar is to establish a vocabulary of chords. This is often perceived to be hard and strenuous because the finger are not used to this. This does not have to be this way and this article will give you some ideas you can tap into to get this skill mastered in no time.
So how should you practice playing chords? This is a bit hard to say because I don’t know your situation and the best way to answer this is to get in touch with a professional guitar teacher. But some general pointers are:
1) Know what to do
You should know exactly what to do and do this as best as you can. If that means doing it in super slow motion that is fine and will lead to faster learning than faster movements that are sloppy. One way to put all information into one chart are chord diagrams. These show you exactly where you should put which finger. Here is an example:
The index finger should be put on the first fret of the second string, the middle finger should be placed on the third fret on the fourth string and the ring finger on the third fret of the fifth string.
2) Do it often.
To establish an idea in your mind you need lots of conscious repetitions. The important part here is conscious. You should be concentrating on doing the chords as good as you can. This may be tiring and you may not be able to concentrate on this task for a long period of time. So split this up into shorter periods and do them more often.
Now how can you do this away from the guitar? One way is to focus on the first step. To be able to play chords you will need to know what to do. The best way I’ve found to reinforce this as often as possible are index cards. Write the name of the chord on one side and the chord diagram on the other side of the index card. Check yourself regularly.
The other half of learning this skill is getting your fingers to do this. To get this internalized I suggest to use the lower arm of your non fretting side and use that as an impromptu fretboard. Once you have done it a few times with the guitar your lower arm should give you a similar feeling and you can practice to hold those chords everywhere.
To summarize to get the most out of your practice time use unused time to strengthen your knowledge and skills. You can do this by using index cards to test your knowledge and gripping chords on your lower arm to get your fingers to do it.
I know you will make fast progress if you implement these tips.
About the author: Rene Kerkdyk is a guitar instructor in Hildesheim, Germany. Contact him if you live close and are looking for professional guitar lessons.