Moving away from first position chords:
Eventually, after some time has passed with learning the guitar, barre chords and alternative chord voicings are brought into the mix. These serve their purpose either as abstract exercises, a transcription from a song, a compositional tool, or other ways. Now the question I’ve heard from students before is…do I have to learn these? Aren’t all great songs just 1st position chords anyway? So what’s the point?
Let’s look at some of the things that will happen if you DON’T learn them:
- You will be limited in what you can play by your understanding of the guitar
- Even if you use a capo to “transcribe” to another key, you will always be behind.
- There will always be chords you have to ‘find’, instead of KNOW.
- Playing rhythms will be easy, playing melodies will be difficult.
- It will take you much longer to learn chord progressions than can’t be simplified down to open voiced “cowboy” chords
- You will strangle your own progress
- You will be holding yourself back from your own potential
Students whose primary focus is country/folk, are usually the most vocal to push back. Now, most of the music uses the guitar in exactly the way the student knows, so there’s a comfort level, in that, they won’t struggle to find the chords, because they already know them. This student felt they learned all they needed to, and they could sing and play the tunes they liked and be ok with that.
Until the day came where they started writing tunes. And although the tunes were 1st position country music genre tunes, the student wanted more elements added to the song. Solos, licks here and there, things that just simply were not possible without either a solid plan of how to get there, or hours of experimenting and hoping he would “fall” into the right solution.