Have you ever felt frustrated with your progress on the guitar? Well, I would like to help you turn your weaknesses into strengthens! But in order do that you will first have to recognize what they are. Taking the time to identify your trouble spots is actually the very first step toward correcting them and becoming a better guitar player.
If you truly desire to be an excellent guitarist then you'll need to take the time to first observe, then identify, any weaknesses you may have with you're playing abilities. Many guitar players tend to overlook the areas they are having trouble with simply because they assume the problems will go away with more practice. But this is not necessarily true. In fact, whatever you continue to practice, whether good or bad, will be reinforced and difficult to change over time. So, I'm sure you can understand the importance of making corrections in your playing as soon as possible. Doing so will help prevent developing bad habits that are difficult to fix later on.
I recommend that you get into the practice of listening to yourself and asking questions as you play. For example, if you strum a chord and it doesn't sound very good to you, ask yourself why. . .
- are you having trouble holding all the strings down at once? This is a strength issue.
- are some of your fingers interfering with the other strings and muting the sound? This is a finger position issue.
- are you having trouble changing chords? This is a coordination issue.
After you have identified what your specific weakness is, you will be able to take the necessary steps toward correcting the problem. When you focus on improving one area of your playing at a time, then you will begin to see a steady progress overall.
One weaknesss many beginners struggle with is being able to change from one chord to another without losing a beat. In order to help my students improve in this area, I often suggest they strum an open chord through the transition. So, if someone was having trouble changing from C to F using a 4/4 rhythm, I would simply have them strum the 4th beat as an open chord as shown below.
||: C / / 0 | F / / 0 | C / / 0:||
||: 1 2 3 4|1 2 3 4|1 2 3 4:||
If the student was still has trouble changing on the beat after trying this, then I would have them begin strumming the open chord (0) on the 3rd beat.
I usually have the student work with only two chords at a time to begin with, but this method can be used when playing songs as well. It's fun when a student suddenly discovers they are changing chords on the beat without using the open chord. Often they don't even realize how it happened! Kind of like riding your bike for the first time without training wheels ;)
Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years.
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