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Old 11-18-2017, 12:08 PM
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vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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Default Beginner's tips- Chordal relationships- "chunking"

I've noticed a number of newer players on the forum and know that guitar can be a new and daunting challenge, particularly for older players. I've just started working with a young woman, mid 30's who needs to learn to play guitar for her job and needs to get up and running ASAP to be able to accompany students and campers with guitar while singing.

Our immediate goal is left hand fluidity between chords. IMO, one of the fastest ways to learn is with "paired associations". The more ways you can associate things, the more you can stack things on top of each other. I've heard that called "chunking" where you learn in chunks so not only can you see the relationships but understand how to apply the principles in those relationships going forward. I've structured and attached the chart the chart I will give her at our next lesson which illustrate multiple levels of "chunks". I just thought I'd share it for those who might enjoy the approach. (Sorry for the long introduction)

The chart shows two sets of three chords: E/A/D and G/C/F. The relationships of the chords themselves is obvious to an experienced player. But the beginner may not know the relationships to each other in the group and the two groups' relationship to each other. So musically they cover one base. The FINGERING RELATIONSHIPS cover a second base. And lastly there is a rudimentary element of music theory. While I've included the root notations (I/IV/V) during the lesson I will only mention that they are there and save the explanation for a later time.

One quick note... I teach A major as being fingered 2-1-3 and do so for a number of purposes which I'll not go into at this moment beyond illustrating that the index finger never leaves the G string and serves as an "anchor" for fingers 2 and 3 to pivot around. I've seen the A maj chord fingered a number of different ways, but I believe that this is the first way it should be taught which hopefully will be understood as one moves to and from the D and E chords. Many chords have similar relationships and a prime objective of this is also to teach the new player to look for additional relationships so they can develop their own "chunks".

As I've prepared the chart I thought I just might share it. Hopefully someone will get something from it. If you're a new player and learn something new from it, I'd like to hear from you.
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Last edited by vindibona1; 11-18-2017 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 11-18-2017, 01:08 PM
1neeto 1neeto is offline
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Interesting way to finger the A, never thought of doing it that way. I do it the traditional 234 because I like the free index to go to E or F#m. But I see how your fingering can make an even easier transition to E since all you have to do is slide the index back one fret.
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Old 11-18-2017, 01:49 PM
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Interesting way to finger the A, never thought of doing it that way. I do it the traditional 234 because I like the free index to go to E or F#m. But I see how your fingering can make an even easier transition to E since all you have to do is slide the index back one fret.
The 2-1-3 fingering of A major provides more room as the index rides slightly above 2 and 3 in the fret box. MUCH more comfortable and easier to avoid muting the adjacent strings. That index finger provides sort of a pivot point and anchor so 2, 3 or 4 have a better feel for where they need to go. C and F are basically a variation the Gmajor fingering. I know a lot of guys finger G as 2-1-3 or 2-1-4, but I believe that that method of fingering should be a secondary/alternate fingering as it takes the hand out of first position, removing the lateral feel of the chord changes and is less efficient. IMO neither variation of the G major is harder to learn at the beginning, but if you start with 2-1-3 then 3-2-4 seems far too foreign later on, but I believe 3-2-4 offers an easier transition to learn walking bass from the Gmajor and as you can see, easier to learn and transition from G to C and F (or back). JMO
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Old 11-18-2017, 01:55 PM
Wyllys Wyllys is offline
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My feeling is that such instruction should be organized using groups based on I/IV/V rather than V/I/IV as you have done. Relate it to a key right from the start.
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Old 11-18-2017, 02:08 PM
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My feeling is that such instruction should be organized using groups based on I/IV/V rather than V/I/IV as you have done. Relate it to a key right from the start.
The idea behind this one is mostly left hand FLUIDITY. I/IV/V focuses on theory, which is a simple matter to sort out after learning how to move easily between chords. I wanted to illustrate how the fingers are related to each other in a way that can be easily transferred into muscle memory. While I could have arranged it A/D/E or C/F/G I felt that the congruity of the motions was more important than the theory of it.

As a personal anecdote... As a kid I played in a few rock bands. Back in the day we were playing tunes like "Gloria", "House of the Rising Sun", "Day Tripper" Rolling Stones stuff... you get the picture. We even banged stuff out on piano. Still I didn't know ANYTHING about theory, but I knew all the chords sort of went together. My first semester in college required my first exposure to any kind of formal music theory. Because, through the songs I was playing, I knew that certain chords went together, as soon as the professor put stuff on the board I'd think "Oh... that's what they call that". It was simply putting labels on things I already knew... And while I won't say I breezed through 3+ years of theory, arranging and composition, I believe that a playing foundation helps theory more than the other way around. JMO
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Old 11-18-2017, 03:11 PM
1neeto 1neeto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
The 2-1-3 fingering of A major provides more room as the index rides slightly above 2 and 3 in the fret box. MUCH more comfortable and easier to avoid muting the adjacent strings. That index finger provides sort of a pivot point and anchor so 2, 3 or 4 have a better feel for where they need to go. C and F are basically a variation the Gmajor fingering. I know a lot of guys finger G as 2-1-3 or 2-1-4, but I believe that that method of fingering should be a secondary/alternate fingering as it takes the hand out of first position, removing the lateral feel of the chord changes and is less efficient. IMO neither variation of the G major is harder to learn at the beginning, but if you start with 2-1-3 then 3-2-4 seems far too foreign later on, but I believe 3-2-4 offers an easier transition to learn walking bass from the Gmajor and as you can see, easier to learn and transition from G to C and F (or back). JMO


Agree about the G chord. I play it 234 about 90% of the time because thatís how I originally learned it. I had to learn the 123 and 1234 variation later on. Canít beat having that free index finger for seamless transitions to C, E, or F.
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Old 11-18-2017, 03:38 PM
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Many ways to go about things that will work. IMO a finger guide between chords great if not creating awkward chord fingering and not causing (unintended) unequal duration of the ringing of each note of a chord between chord changes.
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Old 11-18-2017, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1neeto View Post
Agree about the G chord. I play it 234 about 90% of the time because that’s how I originally learned it. I had to learn the 123 and 1234 variation later on. Can’t beat having that free index finger for seamless transitions to C, E, or F.
Exactly. Thinking ahead to the next step of left hand development in this first stage.

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Many ways to go about things that will work. IMO a finger guide between chords great if not creating awkward chord fingering and not causing (unintended) unequal duration of the ringing of each note of a chord between chord changes.
I agree. But it is important first to get chords that will ring clearly. A major, for example fingered 2-1-3 will be easier to play more clearly for most people than 1-2-3 because you don't have to jam all the fingers into the same horizontal space across the neck. Then, with a 1-2-3 fingering when you have to move to E you have to shift all three fingers without and anchor or pivot. Same thing with D. Also, moving from G (2-3-4) to C will allow for the chord change without having to change position, again allowing the beginner to make faster, more natural, more psychologically absorb-able chord changes. Again, here is the "chunking" thing. Learning multiple things with a solid base and small variations. The next step would be to show the relationship of G maj to Em and C maj to Am. After that, we move into Bm (cheater version) then after some hand strength develops all we have is the bar versions of Bm and F#m and Bb (and variations off the A chord). Then major and minor 7ths are a simple variation away.

Yes there are many ways to finger chords, but I feel it is important to teach a beginner the most efficient and versatile fingerings first. Once they achieve familiarity with the guitar and establish left hand fluidity alterations or variations are then easy to teach.
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Last edited by vindibona1; 11-18-2017 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:56 PM
FwL FwL is offline
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I must be the only guitar player in existence that plays A with 132.

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Old 11-19-2017, 03:51 AM
tonyo tonyo is offline
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Quote:
One quick note... I teach A major as being fingered 2-1-3 and do so for a number of purposes which I'll not go into at this moment beyond illustrating that the index finger never leaves the G string and serves as an "anchor" for fingers 2 and 3 to pivot around. I've seen the A maj chord fingered a number of different ways, but I believe that this is the first way it should be taught which hopefully will be understood as one moves to and from the D and E chords. Many chords have similar relationships and a prime objective of this is also to teach the new player to look for additional relationships so they can develop their own "chunks".
That one tip to go from A -> E -> with the index anchored on the G string made such a difference for me learning my first song (I got it from a lesson on JustinGuitar.com).

Being able to change chords quickly enough to not lose the beat / rhythm of the song is so important and that made a substantial difference for me.

I tell newcomers now pick a song with A E and D and I'll show you a quick way to get started. Great tip.

Last edited by tonyo; 11-19-2017 at 03:53 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:08 AM
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vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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I must be the only guitar player in existence that plays A with 132.
Well... It makes sense as a "D" shape, but doesn't seem to have much practical function as far as I can personally tell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyo View Post
That one tip to go from A -> E -> with the index anchored on the G string made such a difference for me learning my first song (I got it from a lesson on JustinGuitar.com).

Being able to change chords quickly enough to not lose the beat / rhythm of the song is so important and that made a substantial difference for me.

I tell newcomers now pick a song with A E and D and I'll show you a quick way to get started. Great tip.
Fluidity is essential in moving from basic chord fingering to music.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:23 AM
Looburst Looburst is offline
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And I play A with one finger only, the middle finger. Very flattened on all three strings. Just easier for me. You can move very fast indeed, this way. Not for everyone but works great for me.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:44 AM
Wyllys Wyllys is offline
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I play a first position A chord with index and middle fingers. No need to use three fingers once you have "grown-up" hands.
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Old 11-19-2017, 12:36 PM
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I play a first position A chord with index and middle fingers. No need to use three fingers once you have "grown-up" hands.
There are many ways to play the A chord. Sometimes I'll only use my index, sometimes my 3rd finger. All depends on what comes next. My suggestion is only that, a suggestion and far from a rule. I strongly recommend 2-1-3 to beginners because it gives them a tactile reference. While a little off topic, when I was learning to play trumpet I quickly realized that when playing in the key of E major I could hold the middle button down and while everything else revolved around it. I could then use the identical concept with B major, except that I had to be aware of where A# occurred as that was the sole variation. The concept is to find that one common element that glues everything together.

But getting back to guitar, fluidity is the key and that's what I'm trying to encourace. Fluidity eliminates gaps in the sound and make phrasing and musicality easier.
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Old 11-19-2017, 01:27 PM
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I must be the only guitar player in existence that plays A with 132.

.
I've seen James Taylor play that way. Not sure if he does it all the time.

IIRC he played it that way on Fire and Rain.
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