What can I do to learn guitar more easily?

What Does it Take?

By Barbara A

You have decided you want to learn to play the guitar. It's not as simple as sitting down with the guitar one day, beginning to strum. It takes dedication and practice, along with a few other techniques you may not have considered, such as visualization

Begin Learning By Yourself
Why should you start learning by yourself? Because you can make mistakes in the privacy of your own room. Nobody else is around to see you muff that chord. You are under less pressure this way, making it simpler for you to actually push through those first difficult steps.

Access some websites that offer free guitar chord charts and practice your fingering. As you strum down, expect some of your chords to sound fuzzy, buzzy and muffled. Until you get used to where your fingers belong, and until you are able to press down on each string, this will happen. It's natural.

Once you've learned the basics, you'll be able to figure out what a guitar teacher is telling you to do. This means a little less frustration for the both of you.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Set aside a little time every day to practice. Try for a maximum of thirty minutes a day to practice. If you won't be able to practice for thirty minutes on a particular day, practice for as long as you can. If it's fifteen minutes, you managed to get something in. Learn the lingo: frets, strings, nylon versus steel strings, pics, capos.

When you practice, choose a few chords and work on these. Learn new strum patterns. Practice tuning your instrument. Whatever you work on, practice it until you are comfortable with it.

Chord Exercises
Choose some new chords and practice forming them with your hand. Study your chord charts and place your fingers, as indicated, on the correct strings. For instance, an A chord uses your forefinger, middle finger and ring finger, with all three placed on the three center strings on the first fret. Practice each chord until your fingers are comfortable with their placement on the fretboard. Pay close attention to which fret your fingers are supposed to be on, because placing them on the wrong fret affects the sound of the chord.

Practice Chord Changes
You have your fingers placed on the A chord and you want to switch to an E chord. Here, you'll need to consciously look at each chord and where your finger is on your guitar. As you change to a new chord, you'll literally pick one finger up at a time and move it. Yes, it will be a slow process at first. Keep practicing and allow your fingers to develop muscle memory for each chord. Before you know it, when you see a new chord, your fingers will automatically change to the new chord without you having to think about where each finger should go.

Learn to Tune Your Instrument
It's much easier for you to learn your new instrument when it sounds right. If you are learning on a 6-string guitar, the strings are tuned to a high E, A, D, G, B and a low E. Use a tuning fork, a portable electronic tuner, your ears, or, if your instrument is so equipped, the tuner that's built into it.

Once you get skilled enough, you'll be able to tell automatically how your guitar should sound. When you change to new strings, you'll have to tune frequently because the strings are tight, not stretched out. If the humidity changes, this also affects your instrument's sound.

Imagine Yourself Playing
Finally, visualize yourself playing simple tunes. Imagine yourself playing the new chords you're working on learning. For the chords you remember more easily, physically position your fingers in that chord. Do the same for a second chord, then begin slowly switching between these chords until it feels natural for you.

Do this visualization exercise every time you are relaxing or watching television. The next time you sit down with your guitar, you'll remember more easily where your fingers are supposed to go for a particular chord and your practice session will go more easily.

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