A way to practice chord changes

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by lhallam, Jul 14, 2004.


  1. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Sometimes when you have to change from one chord fingering to another your fingers get tied up.

    Here are a couple of things you can try:

    1) Find one or more pivot note(s)/finger(s). That is, one note may remain the same between the two chords. Try to keep that finger down and move the rest.

    For example: 1st position B7 to E. 2nd finger on 2nd fret A string (note = b).

    1st position C to Am, 2nd finger on 2nd fret D string (note = e) and 1st finger 1st fret B string (note = c) all you need to move is your 3rd finger.

    You may want to try different fingerings to find a pivot finger.

    2) Although it's best to place all fingers at once, sometimes for really tricky changes you need to compromise. In that case, finger the first note to be hit first. Then place the others. In most strums, that means the lower note in downstroke or highest in upstroke. In some styles it could be any note.

    A great way to practice switching chords.

    Lightly place your fingers in position for the first chord but DO NOT PRESS DOWN! Get them as well positioned as possible arched over the strings on the fingertips.

    Now slowly and smoothly move your fingers to the next chord in the sequence. DO NOT PRESS DOWN.

    Slowly and smoothly go back to the previous chord but do not press.

    Do this over and over from chord 1 to chord 2 and back to chord 1 without using any pressure. Once you can do it smoothly and rapidly then practice going back and forth while pressing the strings.

    Do the pressing method slowly, make sure that you can hear every note when you play the chords then speed it up.

    You will be amazed at how quickly you will master the fingerings by not pressing. This really works well for the beginner as well as the more advanced player.
     
  2. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    Lance - Do you teach? You seem to be a natural with explaining complex issues in easy to understand lingo...

    One thing I do with students which may be of interest...

    Take a common chord change such as G7 E7 Am7 D7.

    For some reason, this is extremely difficult for non jazzers to outline. The problem is that most folks will ignore the G# in the E7 chord and simply play it as G major all the way through. That's fine sometimes for the same reason that it's fine to play G blues licks over that progression. However, there are times when you want to outline that change.

    A good and strong chord scale for a 7th chord resolving up a 4th to another chord (E7 to A) is to use the super locrian scale. That is, a melodic minor scale up a half step from the root of the 7th chord. In this case, it would be an F melodic minor scale (F,G,Ab,Bb,C,D,E).

    What I have my students do is play three string scale paterns up and down up and down up and down (staying in a single fret position) but changing between the G major scale and the F melodic minor scale. Use BIAB or a recorded background if necessary. Spend 5 or 10 minutes just on those 3 strings before moving to the next 3 strings. When you have finished all 3 string groupings, move up to the next logical scale position and repeat the exercise. Do this until you have exhausted all 7 scale positions.

    After a few days you will begin to hear the notes that differ between the two chord-scale treatments. With a little work it will become 2nd nature. At that point, you could add a bar of the Am7 and the D7 (using Eb Melodic minor for the D7) chord.

    Make sense?
     
  3. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Thanks Jack, I very much appreciate the compliment.

    I used to teach full time now I teach anyone who is interested as a hobby because I love it. I majored in Music Education with classical gtr as my main instrument. I taught privately for 10 or so years and substituted in the public schools for two years. Now I work on databases.

    I recall Joe Pass saying the same thing about the G#.

    Not sure what you mean here. Do you mean starting on each note of the F melodic minor scale? For example, starting on F on the E string then G on the E string, then Ab on the E, etc?
     
  4. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Supporting Member

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    Feel like moving to Florida??????:)

    Allan.
     
  5. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    Yes, except for (minor point) i would base the positions on the G major scale since I'm playing over G followed by E7...

    It's really a wonderful exercise. Try it! :)
     
  6. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Interesting that I was able to use your Sheets of Sounds fingerings while trying this exercise.

    Two, two, two exercises in one. :D
     
  7. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Another compliment! My puny ego could get used to this. Thanks.

    I wouldn't presume to know more than you but if you ever have a question I'll do my best to come up with a good answer. As I'm sure many others in here will as well.

    The truth is, the student is the teacher.
     
  8. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

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    Ihallam,
    I tried your method on some fingerings that have given me problems, and it worked! Thank you. It sometimes amazes me how methods like yours work so well yet seem so unlikely at first blush to be efficacious. I suppose that a large part of learning is identifying and casting away false or untested assumptions about how we learn (aka, keeping an open mind).

    Here's a crude example. While sitting at your keyboard, lift your right foot and rotate it clockwise. While rotating your foot, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand index finger. Your foot will now be rotating counter-clockwise no matter how hard you try to keep the clockwise direction. That's why I try to keep both feet on the ground when I practice.

    littlemoon
     
  9. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Great, you made my day. Thanks.

    I don't recall where I learned that.

    I'm guessing that the mind has too many things to worry about when fingering something so you need to teach your brain one thing at a time.

    There's a Chet Atkins exercise where you move your fingers without pressing down chromatically on all 6 strings. I don't recall exactly how to do it, but I could NOT believe how tired my hand was afterward.

    I tried the foot thing, that's tough.
    Try folding your arms the opposite way you normally do. EX. If left arm is on top, put the right arm on top. Feels weird. Just goes to show we are a product of our programming.
     
  10. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Cool thread, Lance. Thanks! It's kinda' like an isolating technique to help make smoother transitions between chord changes. Very helpful with the space = time thinking, which also probably helps you play more cleanly, or with less noise between voicings. Great stuff!
     

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