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Tony’s Acoustic Challenge – The New Way to Learn Guitar Family Forums Community Support Chord Transitions while Strumming/Fingerpicking

  • Chord Transitions while Strumming/Fingerpicking

    Posted by KayMesser on February 24, 2023 at 8:23 pm

    Hi all!

    I have been working on improving my chord transition timing (they have been very slow to date). I can now get 40 changes per minute between E/A A/D D/E consistently. I can also hold a boom chuck or Travis Style finger picking on my right hand at 70bpm, sometimes faster.

    However, when I try to have both of my hands do something at the same time, all the skill goes out of both hands. My chord transitions are very slow again or I miss a few of the rhythm moments and get really jumbled.

    I’m working on a few easy play along songs on YT for the past month or so – Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (Strumming), Magnolia Wind (fingerpicking). I’ve hit a bit of a plateau.

    What have you found as helpful to improve chord transitions while playing? I am guessing the answer is repetition but I hope there are a few fun tips or unique approaches.

    Cheers!

    N-lightMike replied 1 year, 3 months ago 8 Members · 17 Replies
  • 17 Replies
  • albert_d

    Member
    February 25, 2023 at 6:25 am

    Sound like you are using a metronome. She is a cruel taskmaster but that helps. I have no great insights since repetition to build that muscle memory is how it happens, but it will happen. I have one exercise “Mississippi Timing” that Tony does about once a year that I keep coming back to that I have yet to get imprinted on my fingers, but it does come along a little easier each time I visit it. Your chord transition works well for me with Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond so you might try it with that and sing along for some fun to add to the practice.

    • KayMesser

      Member
      February 26, 2023 at 9:06 am

      I will check out Sweet Caroline as a beginner song to help me with building skills. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

  • Kitman

    Member
    February 26, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Hi @KayMesser , @albert_d is correct on this one. Slow your metronome down to allow you to deliberately have your fingers positioned correctly for the fingerpicking. Also breaking the transition / picking down in increments is helpful. Slow down, build the muscle memory and then slowly increase the BPM’s on your metronome.

    • KayMesser

      Member
      February 26, 2023 at 9:05 am

      Thank you! I remember Tony once saying to practice “dreadfully slow.” I think I was so happy to see progress when I practiced my hands independently thinking it would translate to playing with both in unison. I will slow down to let them talk and work together!

      • jumpinjeff

        Member
        February 26, 2023 at 11:05 am

        I would add one other thing: Tension….tension is the reason to go slowly, slowly enough to eliminate it from your mind and fingers. When tension has been eliminated, then bump up your metronome speed, mind your tension then bump the speed again.

      • Kitman

        Member
        February 26, 2023 at 7:23 pm

        You nailed it @jumpinjeff !

      • KayMesser

        Member
        February 27, 2023 at 5:35 pm

        What a wonderful way to describe it. Thank you.

  • Screaming_fingers_jackson

    Member
    February 27, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    I find that if I seem to have plateaued with something that if I put it down for a couple of days and work on a different technique, when I pick it back up I have an easier time making progress.

    • KayMesser

      Member
      February 27, 2023 at 5:34 pm

      That is excellent advise. I tend to get a bit single focused so this is a great reminder. Thanks.

    • That_Guy

      Member
      February 28, 2023 at 6:21 am

      I too am better after taking a few days off. I dont even really how tired my forearms get which affects my strumming arm accuracy as well as left hand. My left hand tends to grip the chords too tight when fatigued leading to finger dents that make it even harder to fret cleanly. Plus if your repeatedly making the same mistakes somehow taking a few days off to reset helps the mind/muscle coordination improve. The real prob is I hate taking the day off and have to force myself to bot pick up the guitar sometimes for as much as 3 days

      • KayMesser

        Member
        March 1, 2023 at 10:38 pm

        I can relate to overuse soreness and it is great advise to not repeat mistakes often. Thanks!

  • N-lightMike

    Member
    March 1, 2023 at 10:59 am

    Hello @KayMesser ;

    First, I think you have all the advice you need. I especially like what @Kitman said, slow waaaaay down as you move from one chord to the other. Really pay attention to your finger, hand, wrist and elbow positions as the change. And then @jumpinjeff ‘s advice to pay attention to tension is really important and will get you the rest of the way there.

    So, all I can really add is the encouragement. It sounds to me like you are doing great. You are going slow, using a metronome, and practicing. It takes time. That’s pretty much the answer that we wish we didn’t have to hear.

    That’s why Tony tries to give us musical and fun exercises. That way, as we are learning, we can play something that sounds good none the less. His blues progressions in the 30 Days to Play course are great to play over and over. You could even try coming up with some words to sing along with your playing. That would be fun and engaging.

    So I guess what I really wanted to add is: Have Fun. That’s the number one rule and only real rule. Always enjoy your own sound and you won’t even notice the time slipping by during which you are improving.

    MG 😀

    • KayMesser

      Member
      March 1, 2023 at 10:39 pm

      Encouragement is always welcome!!! Thank you. I really do appreciate it.

      Keeping practice fun is always something that I need to remind myself of. I get to play guitar and that is the celebration in itself. 🙂 Thank you!

  • Carol-3M-Stillhand

    Member
    March 1, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    @KayMesser it sounds like you are doing everything correctly so far!! Including not giving up!

    Tons of great advice already on this thread already, it’s all good! One thing I learned along the way for developing good chord muscle memory is this exercise:

    Choose one chord to work on. We’ll say the C-Chord.

    Grab a guitar and fret your C-chord. Strum it until you get clean tone.

    Then keeping your chord fretted, just lighten up the pressure just a little bit on your fretting hand. Strum the strings (You will definately get dead strings as you lighten up)

    Then go back on with the pressure until you get a clean sounding strum.

    Keep doing this and each time release your fretting finger pressure a little bit more each time.

    Eventually you will release the pressure to the extent that your fretting fingers are no longer touching the strings. (They are helicoptering/hovering above their proper “landing” spots). Then return your fretting fingers to their proper places with enough pressure to get a good tone with your strumming.

    Keep doing this and each time release your fretting fingers, let them go a little bit higher above the strings. The idea is to train your muscle memory to just land the chord without you even having to look. Once you can land your C-Chord, try it with a G-Chord. After you have both of them in your helicopter muscle memory, NOW try switching back and forth between the 2 chords you are working with. I bet you will find it much more smooth and automatic.

    You can do this exercise with any single chord, or with any combination of 2 chords or chord progressions. Hope it helps, and keep up the great work!!!

    Disclaimer: I am still not great friends with the B-minor chord or really that dang F-chord either. This exercise works well with non Barre Chords. There I said the bad word, hahaha!

    • KayMesser

      Member
      March 1, 2023 at 10:42 pm

      OOOhhhh.. I like this exercise. I tend to take my whole hand away to practice chords and then need to bring each finger down to align myself to the fretboard. I love the idea of hovering in the pattern to work on bringing my fingers down at the same time. Something new for me to try! Thank you.

      Barre Chords are wildly difficult for me but someday I want to learn them so that I can play a few songs by the band Dispatch. One day!

    • N-lightMike

      Member
      March 2, 2023 at 9:55 am

      I love the exercise, @Carol-3M-Stillhand , that’s one I hadn’t heard of before. I’m going to use it even though I know a lot of chords. It sounds like it could even be a good warm up for a particular song. I’m gonna give it a try anyway. Thanks for sharing.

      MG 😀

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