Beginner Guitar Chords – Learn How To Change Chords Faster !

Beginner Guitar Chords – Learn How To Change Chords Faster !

Every guitar player struggles with chord changes early on. It’s the only thing keeping your playing sounding like the REAL thing, right? This video identifies the most common habits that are holding you back. You can conquer chords !!

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill (like playing the Guitar). I say people waste a LOT of time when they’re not efficient with their practice and they don’t understand diminishing returns. If you want to fast track your learning check out the [Guitar Hacks] guide on learning to play the guitar in a fraction of the time especially if you’re older this can really give you an edge.

Text version:

hi everybody my name is Jonathan key you welcome to the music corner this episode is going to focus on changing chords changing chords is one of the trickiest things for guitar players typically it’s your weaker hand in my case my left hand that’s doing a pretty complicated job of all those different chord grips now if you’re just starting off on the guitar you might be new to chords but if you played for a little while already you’re probably in tackling chords for a few weeks a few months or longer chords are mandatory for guitar players you can’t get away from mastering at least the basic twelve or sixteen most common chords but they can be problematic for example our right hand in my case my dominant right hand wants to do a lot of things on the guitar it’s often held back because my left hand can’t quite keep up with its end of the deal the guitar is kind of unique that way our two hands are doing fundamentally different jobs you think of a piano player both hands are playing the keys saxophone both hands are pressing the keys the guitar the two hands are doing fundamentally different tasks with fundamentally different challenges so if you play the guitar already or if you’re just starting out stick around for the next thirty minutes and we’re going to work on changing chords and hopefully make you a better guitar player so grab your guitar let’s get started you can’t get away from chords on the guitar because the guitar is one of the most popular instrument instruments that can provide chords to the world the guitar in the piano now that the accordion has sort of lost its popularity a little bit the guitar and the piano are your two mini chord instruments every song needs chords chords are the foundation of a song so someone’s going to play the chords and typically it’s the guitar player unless you have a piano player handy all right so let’s talk about how you can get better at chords whether you’re just starting off or if you’re you’re playing for a little while but you feel like your left hand isn’t quite keeping up with a task here I’m gonna give you some some quick tips right from the very start and you’re playing the guitar your left hand elbow over here has to be free in the air Ocasek it can be tempting to slouch over a little bit depending where you’re sitting on your sofa you might find your elbow resting on your on your leg here it’s going to slow you down especially if you’re not not changing chords as fast as you want you got to have that left elbow up in the air okay and remind yourself of that it’s going to help you quite a bit with your mobility you want to find a comfortable chair to sit in and yet at the same time you don’t want to slouch over and let that elbow rest down there another huge part of developing a quick left hand especially for court changes is your thumb now if you’ve watched a lot of DVDs or videos or live performances if you’ve watched your friends play the guitar you may notice that the thumb really moves around a lot you might see the thumb sort of hanging on the top of the guitar savor a musician and strumming chords they might just grab the guitar like a snow shovel see how my left thumb here is sort of hanging on the top of the guitar now I’m not going to say that’s a good technique or bad technique but you can get away with it with experience and your fingers can curl around enough that it doesn’t really matter where you put your thumb in some instances mostly it’s when you’ve had a lot of experience playing chords or lead guitar and your fingers have developed a nice natural curve of their own now for other instances and especially for beginning guitar players where you put your thumb can be life or death you may have to put your thumb around the curved part the back of the neck almost out of sight pointing straight up towards the ceiling now you may have to do that so your fingers can curl over the open strings and just get to where they really want to go without dampening the open strings where you put your thumb is partly a personal choice but partly out of necessity you may have to really pay attention to where you put your thumb so as I play today we’re going to talk a little bit about that one thing I like to tell my students is you want to be comfortable and you want to be effective of course you don’t want to put your thumb in a position that causes you any pain or discomfort but sometimes your thumb is the missing link it’s the one item that needs to be adjusted so that your chords come out nice and clear and you can switch quickly to the next chord so keep that in mind during today’s episode no matter where you see me put my thumb or what you see my other fingers doing where you put your thumb is gonna make a big difference okay another important important factor in getting better at the guitar and better at changing chords specifically is using the very tips of your left hand finger most of the times most of the time you can’t get away with using that the fleshy pad of your finger and the sound isn’t so great anyways so unless I mentioned differently or your teacher mentions differently stay right on the tips of your left hand right up by the fingernail it’s a little sensitive there but it’s worth it and that skin will toughen up the more you play all right so we talked about your elbow being free we talked about your thumb let’s call it mobile I like your thumb to be mobile meaning for some chords your thumb it’d be in one position for other chords that might be another position you’re so you don’t want your thumb locked in any one position okay keep your thumb flexible and like I said keep your eyes on videos or any other DVDs you might watch or your friends when they play and you’ll see that their thumbs may move around pretty substantially depending on exactly what they’re playing all right so now let’s get into some specifics let’s take two chords that go together well the e minor chord and the a chord so let’s take a look at my left hand here the e minor chord of my left hand I’m going to use my index and middle fingers index finger the fifth string second fret middle finger fourth string second fret now a lot of you know this court already most people agree that it’s the easiest chord of the fundamental chords that everybody has to learn good old a minor and when you play Emani ur I encourage you to strum all six strings with your left hand I’m hoping that you’re doing this chord right now that’s not posing a difficulties for you and perhaps you already know this court and that’s great now what I’m going to ask you to do is move that Iman er over to an a major chord see what I just did I move my fingers down towards my knee the a major chord index finger fourth string second fret middle finger third string second fret ring finger second string second fret so here’s my e minor and here’s my a right so as I talk to the next few minutes we’re going to be using those two cords as as our as our cords to improve your technique in changing these are two of the easiest chords but that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved upon it doesn’t mean that changing between them is easy right from the start so here’s don’t watch a thing about find your a minor chord take a good look at your left hand make sure you’re using the tips of those fingers make sure you’re curling around your your your fingers I call that a rainbow curve this curve right here okay now I’ve done previous episodes on on playing chords themselves so today’s episode is really going to be about how to change from one chord to another transitions transitions are usually where people get bogged down in guitar playing and in changing chords so here are some tips first of all settle in for the long haul here if with the different chord progressions that we’re doing today if some of them are easy don’t worry we’ll get the harder ones in a moment but you got to settle in for the long haul and by that I mean you’re going to plan on doing these a lot we’re barely even going to talk about strumming the guitar in this episode we’re going to focus on your left hand and when you’re practicing this stuff at home I would encourage you to focus just on your left hand don’t worry about adding in some fancy strumming don’t worry about singing along to really master chord changes you really have to focus okay so let’s talk about this eman are two a so if the camera zooms in here on my left hand you’re going to notice when I do this Iman or 2a I sure make it look easy right two fingers drop them down at a third finger E minor to a major E minor to a major now here’s why I make it look easy I move my fingers as little as possible now that might sound like common sense but let me show you a worst case scenario here’s my Iman record worst case someone lets their fingers completely leave the guitar and then they have to find their way back again it’s the most common thing I see beginner guitar players do and I did it myself because our fingers aren’t used to these subtle subtle movements certainly if you’re right handed you’re not used to your left hand and making these subtle your left hand making these subtle subtle movements okay so first tip right off the bat keep fingertips as close as possible to the guitar as close to the strings as you can even even my pin you can see my pinky is starting to drift off a little bit here I don’t need my pinky for this a chord or for the E minor chord but really it’s a good habit how that pinky close because for future chord changes I will need to have control over that pinky finger so this is called finger control point number one keep that finger control disciplined okay don’t let any finger drift off and it’s going to be tricky at first if you’ve got with these two chords if you like you have good finger control with these two chords don’t worry there’s more challenging grips coming up I chose these two specifically because e minor and a major are pretty accessible chords okay so point number one finger control okay keeping those finger tips nice and close point number two you got to have these chords memorized okay now we’re only talking about two chords you’re a minor and a pretty easy to memorize two chords if you have to refer to a sheet of paper after a while this when you slowing you down so whatever chords you’re working on whether it’s here with me in this episode of the music corner or if you’re working on a specific song and maybe there’s a certain chord progression or chord change that just isn’t working out for you you’ve got to memorize what those chords look like meaning memorize what your left hand is going to do your eyes really have to be in your left hand at all times okay for it for this particular instance so point number one finger control right fingertips as close as possible to the strings point number two memorize those chords you don’t wanna have to look at your music standard look at a piece of paper you really want to have those chords and memorized whether it takes you five minutes to memorize them a day or two doesn’t matter chances are the song you’re working on uses some of the fundamental chords a major C major D minor you’re gonna want to have those chords memorize anyway so we’re going to start right now with memorizing those chords okay now remember I said settle in for the long haul but I’m going to ask you to do with me right now and certainly in your practice sessions is to repeat this chord progression as many times as you can stand it might not seem like the most exciting thing but it’s worth in the long run so here’s I’m going to suggest for steady strums on the E minor and for steady strums in the a major just like this you play live with me here if you want to a more times and then a minor Hey now if you experience guitar players this probably seems like no big deal to you but stick around and pay attention during the show because sooner or later you’re going to be having to teach someone in your family or friend a loved one how to play the guitar and maybe a few of the things I say today might help you teach someone else how to get through that the tricky part of the guitar process which is mastering changing chords okay so this can get a little dry after a while right changing from two chords over and over again so how can you make it interesting well we have to find a way to make it interesting because I hope you’re going to do it a hundred times how do you make it interesting get a little stopwatch or use your phone anything has a little clock on it and say I’m going to do this as many times as possible for 60 seconds now the idea here is you’re teaching your fingers muscle memory you know you’re getting these two chords in to your muscles and and beyond that you’re also teaching your fingers how to change conveniently between these two chords as quickly as possible so what I’m going to suggest is you take something like a stopwatch strum each chord one time because the idea here is not beautiful music ultimately that’s the big goal but the idea right now is take a minute of your life and do a modern a as many times as possible for one minute I call that the minute of pain not too much pain though okay so if I strum one each chord one time only like this Imai nur a Iman and I can get a lot of practice in in 60 seconds as you know 60 seconds in general goes by like that but when you’re focusing on a specific task you can actually get a lot done in 60 seconds if you feel up to it make it two minutes make it three minutes okay but the point is we’re going to focus 99% of your energy on simply changing between these two cords okay now your right hand is going to give a little strum just to give you right hand something to do and also get some satisfaction on this process because these cords do sound nice you know so I want you to consider that minute of pain okay when you’re doing your practicing it could be with a much more challenging chord progression based on the song that you’re working on something with some interesting jazz chords you name it but the principle is a great principle which is focus in on where chord changing is slowing you down or holding you up focus in on those two chords now there might be more than two chords but focus on two chords do them back and forth as many times as you can stand it okay remember you’re investing yourself here as a guitar player okay it may not be the most exciting minute of your day it probably won’t be but if you look in terms of the long run you know I think a year from now you can be doing a lot of fun stuff with all these different chords even if you only learn twelve or fifteen of the most basic chords you’re using the rest of your life so spending a minute here and there really mastering these chords and investing that time it’s time well spent no one’s ever regretted mastering chords okay so we’ve been talking about changing between E minor and a major notice my elbow has been up off my leg my thumb what works for me right now is having my thumb up about like this now that works for me doesn’t mean it’s gonna be right for you a lot of beginning students really have to push their wrists out a little bit not so much that it hurts but push their wrists down a little bit and their thumbs should have end up reading the curvy part of the neck and if you if you look closely you notice you can’t see my thumb anymore right on my left hand it’s sort of disappeared I’ve seen a lot of instructors encourage their students to have it what they call an invisible phone and that’s not a bad idea you know essentially make it so that the the viewer or your fans watching you out there they can’t see your thumb that means your thumb is on the curvy part of the neck and it’s hidden back there great advice as you get more experience on the guitar you may well be able to get away with having your thumb up here and what’s the big change well I’m not a I’m not a hand surgeon here but my guess is that what’s happening is as you play the guitar for two years five years ten years your fingers develop a natural way of curling around themselves as if they’re just more flexible than they were before you started playing the guitar and then where you put your thumb is not so important in the beginning you got to push your wrist out to create this curve right here with the left hand as you get more experienced your fingers have a nice natural curve and they can do a lot for you without being forced to do it by pushing your wrist out again where you put your thumb it’s a personal preference but of course you want you to get be an effective guitar player right so be comfortable with the way you put your thumb and put it in the way that can really support your fingers in a way that can help your fingers curl around okay and then watch what other people do you know if you’re taking lessons my teacher asked your teacher for advice the way you put your thumb is going to definitely affect the sound of your chords and can affect how you change between two chords your thumb might be in one place for one chord and a different place for another chord and that’s okay long as you’re getting a good sound long as you’re comfortable okay so our theme today of course is changing chords I’ve taught a lot of students for more than 20 years now and it’s pretty much the number one obstacle that most students face pretty early on they’ve learned a few different ways of strumming with their strumming hand they understand how to play a chord they’ve memorized how songs go they know a lot of the principles that work in terms of how music works and yet after all they work they may have been playing for six months or a year and they feel like they’re their left hand isn’t quite keeping up so that’s what today’s program is addressing let’s pick two different chords okay we talked about a us are a major in E minor let’s talk about C and G again to the most common chords you can’t play the guitar and avoid a C chord and G chord you see it all over the place millions of hit songs have been written with C and G now you may already know a C chord but let’s take a minute here and look at my left hand here’s your your C major chord index finger is always good to use your index finger as your reference point to start off second string first fret middle finger fourth string second fret ring finger fifth string third fret the C major chord okay so let’s say focus on the left hand here now again when I’m playing my C major chord I can get away with my thumb being up here that might not be right for you you might want to push your wrist out a little bit that thumb is going to disappear there behind the guitar and it creates a nice a nice almost semicircular shape here because you want strings to ring clearly whether you’re pressing on them or not going to curl around and avoid those other strings as your right pinky is doing its drifting off here right earlier on I said it’s a good idea to keep all your fingers in close even if it’s not doing any work it’s good a good habit in fact it’s a pretty much a mandatory habit to keep that finger in close okay don’t let don’t let your finger drift off it’s hard to do though it’s a real mind over matter kind of process so there’s my C chord now one of the absolute most common partners to a C chord is the G chord seeing Jesus sound great together now when it’s time to go to a g chord watch carefully C&G have a lot in common if you do it right now here comes the G chord the first thing I’m going to do with my C chord is I’m going to take my middle and ring over here they’re each going to move one string up towards me up towards my chin one string over like this see that they have the same relationship they had a minute ago you know there are neighboring strings but now they’re on the two fast strings I don’t need my pointer finger for the G chord but I do need my pinky over here skinny string third fret so this is a quick review we have the G major chord ring finger fat string middle finger fifth string pinky second string this is mandatory folks now there are other ways of playing G but trust me if you’ve just been playing a C chord and it’s time to go to G that’s how you want to do your G chord okay I’ll show you the alternative in a minute but you got to promise me you’re going to do G this way in this context okay there are a lot of things on the guitar there’s more than one right way to do something this is one of those times but I’m going to show you the best way to do it in this context okay so C and G back and forth right let’s talk about the principles I’m on my C chord now principals elbow left elbow free and the breeze right got a habit thumb feels pretty good right here you’re simply being aware of where your thumb is is I’m going to say 95% going towards the right direction you’ve already solved a lot of your problems simply by being aware of where your thumb is and knowing that it’s mobile okay so here’s my elbow free my thumb feels good right where it is I’m getting nice clear sound on the Secord I’m not going to strum the fast string because a big low boom EE sound doesn’t always sound so great with a where the rest of this C chord so I’m going to avoid the fast ring right here okay I’m using the very tips of my fingers on my left hand the very tips as close to the fingernail as possible curling my fingers around okay now another principle finger control member finger control as my ring and middle finger move to the G chord see how they’re they’re really just barely gliding across the guitar that they were there for C and now G and that looks like a subtle movement that’s exactly right it’s got to be a smaller movement as possible here’s worst case scenario my C chord and then all of a sudden or what just happened I’ve lost my frame of reference I’ve lost everything right now that’s what most of us do at first because it’s hard to control our our fine motor skills out here we’re talking about moving fractions of an inch right so C chord middle and ring just as quickly as you can as lightly as possible having us move right over to the two fast strings index finger is off the job here pinky skinny string okay another principle right think of yourself as being in this for the long haul you can set your stopwatch say I’m going to do this one strum each for a minute now you can go as slowly as you want to but don’t stop for a minute or two minutes whatever you can stand okay so here we go I’m going to a C chord and then I’m going to give myself a chance to switch to G and do that here comes C and then gee that’s exactly what I want you to do first long as you can stand it you know two minutes three minutes and if you watch my thumb carefully my thumb is moving just a little tiny bit it feels more appropriate it feels better in one place for the Secord in a different place for the G chord now I don’t want you to worry about too much about where my thumb is more the principle that your thumb is mobile and can move to different places to support different chords in different ways now because this is kind of a dry exercise here changing between two cords over and over again we want to find ways to make it more interesting right so timing yourself and committing to that 60 seconds or two minutes and Sammis going to do this over and over again it’s one way to get a lot better fast at any chord change but it’s also a way to sort of you know give yourself an opportunity to focus in without making yourself totally crazy love say I’m gonna do this for an hour you know say well I’m only going to do it for three minutes we all have three minutes in our daily routine to do this you can find three minutes but you can accomplish so much remember that the idea here is that you’re not focusing on any fancy strumming you’re not think about a specific song you’re focusing on what for most of us is a big obstacle which is changing smoothly and quickly between chords okay so we talked about a minor going to a with our left hand we talked about C going to G the principles are the same for any chords though now you might be working on a song with your teacher that involves fancier chords might involve Barre chords where are the index fingers stretching across all the strings some jazzy chords that involve all four of your fingers could be anything but the principles are the same let’s do a quick review elbow free in the air okay using the very tips of your left hand fingers nothing squishy pads in here but the very tips of your left hand fingers memorizing the chords remember that one you got to have the chords memorized especially if there’s only one or two chords in a song that really hang you up memorize the chords memorize the sequence they go in could be GCD could just be our A to D you name it but memorize that what those chords feel like what they look like eyes on your left hand another important principle for today for this moment keep your eyes on your left hand don’t even worry about the right hand okay your left hand needs you that you people improve so much in the you know during a practice session once the left hand has your full attention okay so keep that in mind now for other things you may learn on the guitar are there moments other songs of course is okay to look at the right hand to look at the music to look at your fans your audience it’s all good but for today for this exercise highly encouraged to keep your eyes on your left hand a lot of students over the years have said to me well I want to be able to play without looking at the guitar it’s a great goal that’s not the goal okay it’s not vehicle it’s a great goal in the long run I encourage people to have fun when they’re practicing and try to play without looking at the guitar that’s separate though from what we’re talking about today okay in fact that’s the kind of goal that’s gonna you’re going to accomplish that goal whether you intend to or not you’re going to get better and better at the guitar every day every month and you’re going to end up in or play a lot without looking at the guitar anyways so we really want to is focus on exactly what’s holding you back from being the best guitar player you can be and for a lot of people it’s changing chords with your left hand now for those of you who are left in guitar players out there hopefully you’ve been reversing everything I’ve been saying today during our episode it’s your right hand that’s working hard I’m changing chords okay now we have a little time left let’s talk about a and D tour talk about any major going to D major pretty easy chords let’s look at our left hand here a major we saw that earlier today right I call that three fingers right in a row I’m getting my pinkie out of the way just for our display purposes here so you can see those three fingers index middle ring fourth string second fret third string second fret second string second fret I’m going to strum everything but the faster I’m going to strum that five remaining strings okay now here’s the change the new cord we haven’t talked about today the D major chord watch watch how smoothly your fingers can change them a to D see that A to D A to D now that takes practice is funny that something that looks so easy can take a lot of practice that takes practice so let’s talk about this D chord here again it’s best to have the pinkie sort of hovering close by and I’m gonna get the piggy out of the way just so you can see what’s going on here pointer finger third string second fret ring finger second string third fret middle finger first string second fret so again principals elbow free and the breeze thumb mobile supportive being aware where your thumb is is a huge part of solving any problems okay fingertips nice and close I’m going to strum one time in each chord I’m not going to do it for 60 straight seconds but that’s what I want you to do at home okay and your practice time its strumming the a chord sermon the D chord keep your eyes on your left hand a chord decor okay all right so I think you’ve heard about the different principles going on here today with changing chords I hope you enjoyed today’s episode again my name is Jonathan key you you’ve been watching the music corner give us a call send us an email and let us know if you have any questions I’m gonna play a little bit with my a and D chords we’ll see you next time here at the music corner you Oh you..

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Comment (10)

  1. I love this guy, been through so many videos but his teachings are the ones that get through to me. Must be the personality. Thanks for the videos!!

  2. Great video. I’ve been playing C,G and D chords in progression, one strum each, over and over and over and over and over again, whilst watching episodes of the US Office (20 mins per episode) to keep my mind slightly occupied!
    I’ve nailed G and D, still getting used to C!

  3. this was so so awesome !! 🙂
    watching tutorials on you tube and finding out how to play chords
    i must say you did the greatest job out of all those
    loved your video
    found it really helpful than other creepy stuff on you tube 🙂 🙂
    Thanks for the video 🙂

  4. Thanks so much Jonathan, you made my guitar life so interesting & fun. It’s now addictive! Thanks to you, so many wonderful people around this Earth are having a great time playing their guitar all because of this beautiful man called Jonathan keyhoe. Lyn & I love ya matie!

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