Use the Power of Visualization To Enhance Your Chord Switches

Faster Chord Changes Is Always A Good Thing!

I have a passion for teaching guitar. Since I began teaching, there have been several issues -- both little-known and even more little-addressed -- my students have had concerning either learning to play guitar in general or learning to play it better. Since realizing these issues, it's no surprise that perhaps ninety per-cent of my students are complete beginners who have little to no experience when it comes to playing guitar.

A great little technique I've recently been focusing on with my students is one called "visualization. " It's not a very hard concept to grasp, but it seems to be one of those things that goes unnoticed in your playing until someone points it out and you have one of those "Why didn't I think of that" moments. "

Here's an example of what visualization is: Let's say you start with a G Maj chord and begin strumming in 4/4 time and each chord you will strum four times. Now, I'm not referring to a particular tune; this is just an example. Now, you're still strumming your G Maj chord and the next chord coming up is a C Maj chord. What do you think the most common thing people do when changing chords? In my experience with my students, they stop strumming with their right hand (or left hand if you're left handed) and try to find where their fingers go for the C Maj. There's a problem here though; when you cease strumming, you lose your rhythm and you have to reset and start all over again. Never fear; with the aid of the visualization technique, the speed of your chord changes will increase dramatically.

But let's not stop there; what if rather than stopping everything and then changing to the C Maj chord you begin with the G chord as before and start strumming? Except this time, rather than staying focused on the current chord you're fretting, you visualize the next chord, in this case a C Maj? Think about it a second; if your fingers are already in the right place for the chord you're currently on (G Maj), why would you need to spend the extra mind power by thinking about that chord? Instead of wasting that precious brain power, why not use it by visualizing the next chord (C Maj) and reduce the little -- but valuable -- time required to process the chord change in your mind, thus bringing about faster chord changes?

Here's another way of looking at it: You're trying to stay ahead of the music. One of the greatest Bluegrass guitarists to ever live, Tony Rice, compared it to playing billiards; it's similar to setting yourself up for the next shot. If you read music, you should know about "sight reading. " When you're sight reading, you're reading the notes ahead of time so you can be on time for the notes you have to play now.

So, I hope you see that visualization is a powerful tool that, in my opinion, I believe will definitely increase your progress in playing guitar. Why not give it a try now? When you land on a chord, just forget thinking about it and instead visualize the next chord in the progression. Make sure you do this same thing for each chord. If you have any difficulties, try to not strum at all. Chances are, you're unaccustomed to strumming in time if you are in fact having difficulties, and all you need to do is concentrate on one thing at a time -- your chord fingering. Or just play a basic strum and use only one down stroke four times-per-chord. The cool thing is, you can use visualization when it comes to soloing, scales, or any other areas of guitar playing.

If visualization works for you and you're impressed with your chord changes after trying it, drop me a line at For now, thank you for taking time to read and as always ...

Best wishes and keep practicing.

Texas Blues Guitar by Eric Beaty

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