11 February 2009

Beginner Guitar Practice Plan

What should you practice as a guitar beginner? Well, in my opinion the easiest way to get started is to learn three chords and then play lots of songs with them. This article shows you how.

Three Chords

To start with you should learn to play three chords. These are all you will need to play literally thousands of pop, rock and folk songs.

The best chords to start with are in the key of D - D, G, A - or the key of G - G, C, D. You will notice that these keys differ by only one chord, so once you've learned one of them it's quite easy to learn the other. You simply have to learn one more chord.

Favourite Songs

Once you are comfortable with the three chords of your chosen key you can start to use them to play songs. You can find songs in a song book or by searching for tab or chord files on the Internet.

As a beginner an excellent place to look for chord and tab files is e-chords.com. This site includes a tool that will change the chords of any song to one of the keys you know already (this is called transposing).

Look up favourite songs you would like to play on e-chords. You might be lucky and find they already use the three or four chords you know.

If this is not the case simply select the key you want in the list of chord letters near the top of the screen. The chords in this new key will then be displayed, and lo and behold you will see that they are the chords you know how to play.

You can also learn to transpose songs yourself. It's really very easy, if you know the first few letters of the alphabet, and can count up to five then you can do it. Read the Beginner Guitarists Guide to Transposing to find out how.

More Chords

Once you are under way learning songs with your three or four basic chords it's time to start learning some more. Spend the first five or ten minutes of your daily practice working on a new chord. You can learn chords online or learn from a guitar chord book.

Practice your new chord on its own first until you can play it reasonably well. Then practice changing to and from the chords you learned previously.

Use the rest of your practice time to practice new songs, and to review those you've learned already until you master them.

Finally, create yourself some opportunities to play the songs you've learned. Have a weekly get together with friends or family and play all the songs you know. It's a good idea to print out a few lyrics sheets so everybody can join in singing with you.

Follow this beginner guitar practice plan and you should be able to build a decent repertoire of guitar songs in a few months. It is hard at first, but stick with it and above all, have fun.


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Anonymous said...

Good Post! Any kind of guitar playing should start with chords I think.

C and G tend to be really hard for beginners, especially younger kids, as they require a bit more stretching/coordination. I've found that Am, E, Em and A tend to be really easy for beginners. Also easy to switch between as the shapes are very similar.

It's awesome to start writing things right away with these chords too. Not only are you practicing chords, but you're practicing something you own--something from your head. Which is a good feeling, I think. After some of the easier shapes are down, it seems like most beginners take to the harder chords right away, then can start learning tunes.

Do you have songs you recommend with only basic chords? I'm always on the look out for teaching material...


Unknown said...

Gary, Great Post.

I like this line: "Follow this beginner guitar practice plan and you should be able to build a decent repertoire of guitar songs in a "few months". It is hard at first, but stick with it and above all, have fun."

I am sticking with it and I am slowly seeing improvement. I just need to stay off the InterNets when I am at home. But I know that one day, I will have it...playing that is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, I like your idea of making up your own things. Even with only two chords it's possible and satisfying.

There are a bunch of 2 chord songs that you might use for beginners. I've been collecting some more so I think I'll be adding to the collection soon. Of course, the Beginner's Guide to Transposing comes in handy so you can transpose to E or A.

Mike, good to see you back, thanks for the link.

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