23 February 2009

Guitar Chord Practice Tables

Guitar chord practice tables are an easy and effective way to track your guitar chord playing skills. This article shows you how to use them to develop fluency playing all guitar chord changes.

How do you learn to change chords easily, cleanly and quickly? Easy, you simply have to practice all the changes. The problem is there are a lot of them to remember and if you don't have a system to help you it's easy to neglect some.

The problem is made worse by our natural tendency to avoid things that make us feel bad. Nobody likes to be reminded of their weaknesses. Our minds can be very effective at "forgetting" those tricky chord changes that we find hardest.

For me the open D minor chord was a hard one for a long time. Sometimes there are chords like this that your fingers just don't seem to get. Without really planning it, you start to avoid them and practice instead the chords you can play more easily.

Chord practice tables are a simple and effective system that will ensure you avoid this problem. Let me first show you what a practice table looks like, and then tell you how you use it to improve your chord changes.

Here's an example of the kind of chord practice table I use. This one is for the chords in the key of C major.

I've created a PDF version of this C major chord table you can download free for your own use.

Here's how you use the table to practice your chord changes.

1. Start on the top row and play all the chord changes from C to each of the indicated chords. For the example chart you play C - Dm - C - Em - C - F... and so on, through to the B diminished chord. You can simply strum each chord four times, or use more sophisticated rhythms if you prefer.

2. Move down to the second row and repeat the process for all the changes from Dm. Dm – C – Dm – Em – Dm - F...

3. Continue until you have practiced all the rows of the table.

When you get to the end of the table you'll have practiced all the possible diatonic chord changes in one key.

It's a good idea to print or draw the charts and tick off the squares with a pencil as you go. Not only does this ensure you don't forget any changes, it also gives a satisfying sensation.

You can create tables for any key, or for any kind of chords you are working on. For example, you can play through the table above with open chords, with bar chords, or work on extensions like seventh chords and so on.

Chord tables are an easy system to make more effective use of your practice time. They ensure you practice all of the chord changes you need to master. Mastery of chord changes will enable to learn and play any song more easily.

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Sarge said...

This is just a great idea Gary. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Curt, Glad you like it. I use lots of little tables like these. They are a great way to practice *everything*.

Guillermo said...

This is great. I would be more valuable if you can post all the Major Keys practice tables if you have them.

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Guillermo, Welcome to the blog, glad you liked the practice tables. As it happens I am putting together a new version of the PDF with tables for more major keys in it. Look out for it in the next week or two...

Learning guitar scales said...

Great idea, it will make my playing perfect by trying all possible combination of chords, thanx.

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