Let’s look at a common example:
A common problem for beginning guitar players is the inability to switch chords without hesitation.
The question is: “I’ve been practicing chords for a while now and I’m still having trouble being able to change chords. How can I fix it?”
The common answer is: “Just keep working on it and you will get better." Or “Play the chords slowly until you can play them easier and then play them faster”. Both answers are bad. The second answer is better than the first but it is still incomplete.
The real problem here is that the guitar player doesn’t know their chords well enough. They never thought to make sure that they know the chord completely and they never practiced making sure that their fingers were always in the right place. The domino effect of not knowing the chords causes hesitation when switching from one chord to another. The hesitation slows them down and that means that they will be late switching to the next chord and it will continue from chord to chord until the guitarist is hopelessly behind and stops playing in frustration.
A simple drill to fix this issue:
1. Form the chord with your fingers, exactly as they are supposed to be (fingers arched correctly and fingertips being used to press down on the notes) and hover above the fretboard - touching the strings but not pressing down on the fretboard.
Perfect practice doesn’t mean practicing without mistakes, the mistakes are going to be there-you would need to practice something if you could already play it perfectly. Perfect practice means analyzing your guitar playing and finding the things that are preventing you from being the guitar player that you want to be and fixing those things.
There are some things on the surface that are causing the problems you have but if you dig deeper, you may find that there is something else entirely that is the real issue. Once you find that you can now set about fixing that issue. The question is how do you figure out what the real issue is
Does Practice Really Make Perfect?
When it comes to being the best you can be, we almost always think of, or hear, the phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” and we have just accepted that to be the truth. Is it really though? Does just the art of doing things over and over and over again guarantee that you will play anything perfectly?
In short the answer is not exactly. While you do need to practice and work to achieve perfection, if you don’t practice the correct way and just keep doing things over and over again without focusing on what it is that is holding you back, the chance of you perfecting anything is very low.
Instead of saying-“Practice Makes Perfect” lets introduce a new thought. That new thought is “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”. How much more powerful is that thought? If you practice perfectly how much more likely are you to perfect whatever it is that you are working on?
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Spend a 10 - 20 minutes a day practicing this with all of your chords and you will notice an improvement in your ability to play and change chords fairly quickly. Even if this isn’t completely fixed right away, which is normal, you will notice an improvement and that is the most important thing. As you continue to practice this way, you will continually see improvement. If you practiced this the conventional way, you wouldn’t see improvement each time that you practice.
This is an example of how you practice perfectly to fix an issue with your guitar playing. The exercise above develops the muscle memory in our fingers. This helps you remember and play chords easier and as a result, you will then be able to switch chords perfectly and with no hesitation.
About The Author: Byron Marks teaches guitar lessons in Manchester, NH to students of all ages and ability levels
2. Squeeze down on the chord and hold for a 5 count.
3. Over squeeze the chord (press down harder than you normally would) for a 3 count.
5. Relax your fret hand (same as you did in step 1) 6. Repeat