How do you practice guitar chords? There are plenty of different approaches you can use to work on them and make the most of your practice time. But whatever your preferred approach is here are three errors to look out for, as well as suggestions to avoid them or replace them with better habits.
1. You don’t have a system to practice all changes
The most difficult part of chord playing is making the changes from one chord to any other quickly and cleanly. Although there are not that many basic chords there are a lot of possible chord changes to practice. This number grows even bigger thanks to the many possible extensions and alternative fingerings. If you don’t have a system to make sure you work them all you will miss a lot of them.
A system I find effective for this is guitar chord practice tables.
2. You always practice the same fingering
Most of us learn new chords and the way to finger them simultaneously. This finger goes here, that finger there… Once we’ve learned this fingering we always use the same one to play the chord. But there are good reasons to break this habit and learn to finger the chord differently. For example, an alternative fingering could make it easier to change to this chord from some chords, or it could free up a finger to play a melody or bass note.
Look for different ways to finger the chords you learn and include these fingerings in your guitar chord practice.
3. Not paying attention to the degrees and notes of the chord
Learning the names of chords and how to finger them is a minimum to be able to play. But if you stop there you’re missing an opportunity to boost your musical knowledge and playing skill.
Learn the names and scale degrees of each note of the chord and you’ll develop your musical knowledge much further. You’ll notice more relations between notes and chords and discover new ways to play things. To help you do this name the notes of chords out loud as you practice. You can choose to use either note names or scale degrees.
Photo by Vincent Lock.