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  #1  
Old 04-11-2021, 10:20 AM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Default How do you practice new material

Friends, I am a couple years into my guitar experience and am just having the best time thinking of a song, finding the chords on line, and then having at it.
I find new material to be a great teacher, or at least opportunity to expand my boundaries in a much more pleasurable way than drills.

I also find that many songs have portions I can play with some ease, until I hit a chord or transition between chords that I do not have in my arsenal. And that is where the learning happens. For example, I am working on that old chestnut “I’m an Old Cowhand.” It goes from D maj to B min 7 quickly. I am clumsy and inefficient with barre chords, so this is a good challenge for me.

It seems that the first thing I do is to identify any finger positions common to both chords, to take advantage of movement efficiencies. Like the part of Cowhand that goes from Bmin to F# min. I then look at the easiest and fastest way to make the move. And then I do the transition very slowly. I tried using a metronome yesterday for the first time. It was awkward, but I see the value in it, especially increasing the tempo as appropriate.

I’d be obliged for any comments on my approach, and any suggestions.
Thanks
David
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Old 04-11-2021, 10:43 AM
tbirdman tbirdman is offline
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What I would do is just practice that chord change daily, even multiple times during the day. Change at first as fast as you can put making sure you can get every string ringing out.

The other drill for difficult chords is to build the muscle memory by fingering the chord, strumming and then completely removing your hand down off the fretboard. Then repeat, baking sure you remove your hand away from the fretboard.

As far as barre chords, the first part of this course on barre chords is free. It has some real good information on how to practice barre chords starting out with just the index finger making the barre.
https://www.guitarfam.com/barchordscourse
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Old 04-11-2021, 11:35 AM
brianlcox brianlcox is offline
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check out justinguitar's 60 second changes exercise. It's a simple exercise, but works perfectly. Your idea about first identifying anchor fingers is spot on!
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Old 04-11-2021, 11:38 AM
Tahitijack Tahitijack is offline
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I look at all the possibilities of playing the two chords that are a challenge. Aside from finding common notes and finger positions, can they be played easily up or down the fretboard.

Often it's the barre chords that save the day. The change from Bm to F#m is a great example of using movable barre chords to speed up those changes.
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Old 04-11-2021, 01:49 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I have been playing for 57 years now -- since I was 16 -- and I still do the same thing I did as a teenager to learn now songs. The only difference is that today I have a much broader, deeper chord vocabulary I can draw on. After so many years I instinctively know what to do with my right hand picking to adapt to a song without really having to think very hard about it.

It's certainly true that the Internet and YouTube can be very helpful at getting a head start on how to play something new.

As the OP mentions, we tend to stumble over new chords or new shapes. I still do, but it may be that I find ways to adapt to these new shapes reasonably quickly. I think a lot of how we learn to adapt is our ability to recognize patterns, what shortcuts we can find to help us adapt to a new shape, and how we can relate what we are learning to what we already know.

I am just finishing a tutorial on how to play "Georgia on my Mind" (the old Ray Charles song). One of the chords in this song is completely new to me: a C#dim. At first it just seemed like a bunch of fingers hanging out there past the 3rd fret. Then I realized that the index and middle fretting fingers were in the shape of a first position, two-fingered E7 chord, but to make the C#dim, the index finger needs to be anchored right behind the 3rd fret. Then it became easier to remember to add my ring and little fingers on the 3rd and 2nd strings to make that oddball C#dim shape.

I had the same experience with an A9 chord on the 3rd fret. I could use the first position D shape but moved two sets of strings upward (really downward in terms of pitch) and then add my little finger to the 2nd string.

Here is the tutorial on "Georgia on my Mind." See about time = 9:35 for the discussion on C#dim. See about 14:12 for the A9 discussion.



Beyond looking for an existing knowledge bed to tie new chords and shapes to, I also rely on practice and repetition. Some things just have to be brute forced through practice and repetition.

I don't use a metronome very often. For some reason I have a pretty good internal sense of rhythm that really helps me out, but I imagine a lot of that has been developed over almost 6 decades of making a lot of music. But I know that for many players a metronome is absolutely essential to help them keep that sense of time, to maintain a beat.

After playing all these years, some of it professionally, I still learn new things every week. It's a good thing, too. In all seriousness, I need to keep making new synapses in my brain to help me fend off Alzheimer's Disease.

Hope this might be helpful...

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Last edited by Glennwillow; 04-11-2021 at 03:05 PM.
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  #6  
Old 04-11-2021, 02:02 PM
NormanKliman NormanKliman is offline
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Hi David:

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianlcox View Post
Your idea about first identifying anchor fingers is spot on!
I agree with this, and everything else you said sounds right on the mark.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
...I then look at the easiest and fastest way to make the move.
When there’s no easy alternative, look for ways to keep the same fingers on the same strings in the preceding chord. If you still can’t play the change smoothly, it often helps to have a look at the last note of the first chord and the first note of the second chord, to see if you’re actually trying to do something unreasonable there, like using the same finger on different strings. In that case, just change one of the two notes to make it flow. Open strings can be useful like that.
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Old 04-11-2021, 04:49 PM
TBman TBman is online now
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On chord/position changes in tunes that give me a hard time I find it best to make exercises out of them. I have to resist the urge to speed up too soon.
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Old 04-11-2021, 05:11 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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I record myself playing the song live. When I feel the recording sounds good, I add the song to my live setlist. I then perform it at my gigs, and beat it into shape. By playing it live to various audiences, I can get a read on if the song is too long or short, or if the temp is too fast or slow, etc. Sometimes the song works right from the start, other times it takes a while of playing it out in public.
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Old 04-11-2021, 05:16 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Gents, OP here. Thanks kindly for all the helpful suggestions.
Back to the salt mine....

David
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Old 04-11-2021, 06:39 PM
fwellers fwellers is offline
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Another thing I find that helps is to realize when the entire chord does not need to be fingered instantly. Many times at finger or two doesn't need to be put down until beat beat 2 or 3 or 4.
That can make it easier to transition because you have more time.
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  #11  
Old 04-11-2021, 07:09 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fwellers View Post
Another thing I find that helps is to realize when the entire chord does not need to be fingered instantly. Many times at finger or two doesn't need to be put down until beat beat 2 or 3 or 4.
That can make it easier to transition because you have more time.
That, I so already figured out

David
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Old 04-11-2021, 07:34 PM
jwellsy jwellsy is offline
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Tascam makes a couple of trainers that can slow a song down, maintain pitch and loop a section. Ones called MP-GT1 that plays MP3's and the other is CD-GT2 that plays CDs.

There's also a Vidami practice pedal that slows down and loops Youtube videos.

I think there's a couple of phone apps that do the same thing.

Is there any PC software that slows & loops songs?
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Old 04-11-2021, 08:02 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” One can underestimate how much practice learning some new skill on a
guitar can take (on the other hand some overestimate it such as "learning barre chords takes years"). You may see another guitarist whiz through
learning some new tune (where practically the only task is to commit it to memory), but that's mainly because the skills required by the new tune
have already been learned in the past.
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Old 04-11-2021, 10:09 PM
TBman TBman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwellsy View Post
Tascam makes a couple of trainers that can slow a song down, maintain pitch and loop a section. Ones called MP-GT1 that plays MP3's and the other is CD-GT2 that plays CDs.

There's also a Vidami practice pedal that slows down and loops Youtube videos.

I think there's a couple of phone apps that do the same thing.

Is there any PC software that slows & loops songs?
Transcribe!

You can even apply a capo to the tune if its played on a guitar dropped down a step or 2 and you don't want to tune your guitar down.
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  #15  
Old 04-11-2021, 10:36 PM
hatamoto hatamoto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
Friends, I am a couple years into my guitar experience and am just having the best time thinking of a song, finding the chords on line, and then having at it.
I find new material to be a great teacher, or at least opportunity to expand my boundaries in a much more pleasurable way than drills.

I also find that many songs have portions I can play with some ease, until I hit a chord or transition between chords that I do not have in my arsenal. And that is where the learning happens. For example, I am working on that old chestnut “I’m an Old Cowhand.” It goes from D maj to B min 7 quickly. I am clumsy and inefficient with barre chords, so this is a good challenge for me.

It seems that the first thing I do is to identify any finger positions common to both chords, to take advantage of movement efficiencies. Like the part of Cowhand that goes from Bmin to F# min. I then look at the easiest and fastest way to make the move. And then I do the transition very slowly. I tried using a metronome yesterday for the first time. It was awkward, but I see the value in it, especially increasing the tempo as appropriate.

I’d be obliged for any comments on my approach, and any suggestions.
Thanks
David
I very much agree with those. This is how I practice as well. Finding anchor points when you change chords is underrated and I think that's very important to be aware of so I think you're in the right track!

I use the metronome when I'm learning new passages, phrases or licks. I also think it's best to practice sections in isolation first.
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