Learning Guitar, Overcoming Issues
I wanted to spend some time sharing ideas about how to overcome issues playing guitar as a beginner. There are many places and voices to find, and it can be quite confusing perusing the internet, as all the opinions and takes on issues may make you more confused than you started!
The first thing I would recommend is finding a teacher who can take a look at your playing and make recommendations. A good teacher will have the experience to know how to help you achieve your goal much faster than trying to get there on your own.
From my experience teaching, I have found that the biggest issues facing beginner guitar players are:
- changing chords
- upstrokes and downstrokes
- synching lyrics and playing
How Do We Solve These Problems
Each problem needs to be broken down, understood, and mastered separately before being applied as a whole.
Each student will experience all of these above mentioned issues at some point and time, and examining the problem and fixing it systematically can really give you the confidence you need to perform.
We published an ebook containing 10 unique strumming patterns for guitar, which you can use to tackle all the problems beginner guitar students see.
How to Practice and Improve Strumming
In order to improve your strumming, you first need to have at least 1 chord you can play cleanly. In our Ebook, we recommend using E Minor, as most students already know that chord and can play it accurately.
The next thing you do is start learning strumming patterns you can play only using one chord. You need to be able to play the pattern with total accuracy, and you should also experiment with playing it at different speeds, to see if you can still play it without mistakes.
After this, you want to try to play the pattern using all downstrokes, then all upstrokes, then a combination of both.
In our Ebook, 10 Strumming Patterns, we have 10 unique rhythms to practice on the guitar. These are ideal for a beginner to start with.
With only these 10 patterns, you have nearly a limitless palette of rhythms to apply to your songs and chord progressions.
If you’re having a hard time with patterns, this book is for you.
How to Practice Changing Chords
Changing chords is the 2nd biggest issue for beginner guitar players. Students often make the mistake of having one hand wait for the other before engaging in some movement.
For example, lets say you’re playing E minor, but then have to switch to a G. A student will have their picking hand ‘wait’ for the fretting hand to be in place before strumming the note. This creates a break in the rhythm, and sounds herky jerky.
What we want is a smooth transition from chord to chord, with no hesitation, no delay, no ‘waiting’ in the strumming pattern.
When I’m working with my students, I use simple rhythms (master with one chord first) and introduce a 2nd chord. We find exactly which rhythm creates the hesitation, and we drill the picking hand to continue playing the rhythm, and teach the fretting hand to ‘catch up’.
The result is that the rhythmic pattern has no break, and one or two beats of the playing sound messy. The job for the student then, is to practice that transition.
Variation - Upstrokes and Downstrokes
Beginner students tend to fit into two camps: those who upstroke everything, and those who downstroke everything. Where the difficulty lies is in getting them to start mixing up one and the other.
By implementing the patterns, you can create your own variations where you challenge your playing and improve your technique.
For example, take any pattern, and totally reverse the picking. Or, change the picking randomly on a single beat, be it a quarter note, an 8th or even a rest stroke.
By practicing the same material with variations, you’re giving yourself the technique to handle many situations playing guitar.
Bring It All Together
Our book makes learning guitar that much easier. It starts at the simplest base, one chord, and you can add variations and difficulty as you feel ready to.
This is beneficial in so many ways. First, you’re always making progress. You’re not hitting a wall in your playing, and getting frustrated trying to overcome this single issue. You can simply change the chord, change the rhythm, change the picking.
We highly recommend downloading our Ebook, 10 patterns for Beginner Guitar. While we normally sell this book on our store, we are giving this book away if you subscribe to our newsletter!