I see this mistake all the time with beginner guitar students. They really struggle to get their chord changes quick enough to be able to keep them in time. I see them staring at their fret hand, desperately trying to move it faster…

 

but that isn’t the hand that has the problem!

 

The problem is in the position of their strumming arm, after they have finished the last strum with the chord that they are working on. They let their arm hang towards the ground, past the 1st string. This means that, once their fret hand has moved to the correct chord, before they can strum that chord, they have to move their hand back up across the strings, to then strum the new chord.

 

It is moving their hand back that causes 50% of the time delay when it comes to them changing chord in time.

 

How can you fix this?

 

Practice this:

Pretend your wrist has a huge rubber band around it that is attached to your neck, a bit like a rubber sling. Strum through a chord, and then as quick as you can, bring your arm back up to the “start position” for the next strum. Don’t worry about changing chords yet. Do this for 5 minutes. Note – you are not strumming constantly. You are strumming once, resetting the start position and strumming again. We are practising resetting your arm to the start position, we are not practising strumming.

 

The idea here, is that when you are looking at your fret hand to change chords, you can simultaneously bring your strumming arm back to the start position, without looking at it. This will make your chord changes a lot faster!

 

Again, this is one of many techniques that we use to help improve our student’s guitar playing.