In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety.
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High on the list is “Am I too old to learn guitar in Mountain View ?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let’s see…off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer
.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period and any place in Santa Clara
One very common way of transitioning from one chord to another on the guitar is by means a "walk down".A walk down involves starting on the first chord, then playing a transitional chord, and then arriving at the destination chord.You have probably heard walk downs many times, possibly without even realizing it. But becoming aware of them, and learning how to perform some of the more common ones is essential to enhancing your guitar playing skills.A simple walk down is typically comprised of a three chord movement (original to transitional to destination), but others can be played as four or more chord movements.In a three chord movement, the transitional chord is one that is often just a one note variation on the original chord. For example, the bass note of the original chord may "walk down" a half or whole step in the transition.In another variation, a note higher in the chord formation may walk down while the bass note remains the same.This is what we will cover today using the "D" chord. In this walk down we will do a walk down starting on D (major), and arriving on D7 at the end.The transitional chord in this example will be a Dmaj7.Here is the TAB for the walk down:E------2-----2-----2-----B------3-----2-----1-----G------2-----2-----2-----D------0-----0-----0-----A--------------------------E--------------------------Notice that only one note changes throughout the walk down, the notes on the 2nd string. Just looking at that string you will see that in the first chord (D major), it starts on the 3rd fret, then in the transitional chord (D maj7), it moves to the 2nd fret, then on the destination chord (D7), it winds up on the 1st fret.The trickiest part about this walk down is that the fingering will change completely for each of the three chords.In the first, you will use a standard D chord formation - open 4th string, 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string, and 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string.Then in the transitional chord - continue to play the open 4th string, then just barre the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings with the 1st finger.Finally on the D7 - Play the open 4th string again, place the 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string, the 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string, and the 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string.Overall, this is a fairly simple, and common walk down. Practice it slowly to begin with until you are comfortable with the changes. Once you have it down, be sure to incorporate into your playing whenever you can.
One of the first challenges faced by the advancing guitar player is learning a core group of basic guitar chords. Why is it so important to learn these basic chords? Chords form the backbone of most rock and pop songs, and provide the harmonic accompaniment to the melody and instrumental solos.Rhythm guitar based on basic chords provides many of the most memorable rock riffs... think AC/DC's "Back in Black" or The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". What's really amazing is that by learning no more than 10 to 15 basic guitar chords, you will be equipped to play thousands of rock and pop songs!First let's establish the definition of a chord. A chord is three or more different musical notes played together. In the case of the guitar, this means that at least three strings are strummed or plucked simultaneously to sound three or more notes. Since the guitar has six strings, the maximum numbers of notes in a guitar chord is six. All chords can be placed in one of three groups based on the musical structure of the chord: Major, Minor, or Seventh. Each of these chord groups has its own "sound" or "feel". Major chords sound stable and complete. Minor chords can evoke a more somber or pensive mood, and Seventh chords are jazzy and somewhat incomplete sounding.There is no standard list of "basic guitar chords" that every one agrees to. However, there is general agreement that there is a list of somewhere between 8 and 18 basic guitar chords (open string) that every guitarist must know cold. These chords are used in all musical styles from rock and pop to country, jazz, and classical. No matter where you are on your guitar-playing path, you should take the time to learn and master the basic chords. Getting these right will ensure you have the basic tools and skills to learn many songs and increase your playing enjoyment.So what are the basic guitar chords? Our basic stable includes the major and minor chords from four common musical keys, A,G,C, and D. They are played as "open chords", that is at least one string in the chord is not fretted (pressed down with a finger). Open chords are easier to learn and play than more advanced chords such as Barre chords, or complex chords further up the guitar neck. Our list of basic major and minor chords is: A Major (or A), A Minor (or Am), C, D, Dm, E, Em, F, GThese chords can be best learned as chord "families" (by key) that can be combined into great-sounding chord sequences that make up lots of popular songs. Using this chord family approach is much more interesting and useful than just memorizing a bunch of chords in random order!These chords grouped by chord family (key) are as follows:A Family (Key of A): A, D, ED Family (Key of D): D, Em, G, AG Family (Key of G): G, Am, C, D, EmC Family (Key of C): C, Dm, Em, F, GTips for Learning the Basic Chords:1. Pick a Chord Family and master it. This will give you quick success and let you play great sounding progressions right away. 2. Use a Guitar Chord Chart as a reference tool. A chord chart shows each chord as an easy to read "chord diagram" with exact finger positions. See this example of a chart of basic guitar chords.3. Find the chords and lyrics for an easy song that is based on the chord family so you can apply your skills. Many great songs are based on only three chords!4. Ensure each string sounds right. Take care to make sure that each string is sounding clearly, and that only the strings that should be played are played.5. Practice, practice, practice! Every day, practice continually change from one chord to another until you can do it rapidly. Learn the chord families one at a time.6. Master all the basic chords first. Only then move on to Barre chords and other more complex chords. First things first! 7. Expand with 7th chords. As a next step you can easily expand on your basic chord knowledge by adding 7th and minor 7th chords based on the nine basic major and minor chords.8. Have fun using your new skills! Enjoy your musical ability by applying it to learning a small set of 5-10 songs you know really well and can confidently play at any time.Copyright 2005 Peter Bussey of http://www.guitar-players-toolbox.com This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and the resource box are included.
In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety. High on the list is "Am I too old to learn guitar?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let's see...off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period. That is the truth. However, as with everything else in life, the devil is in the details!The Correct Approach Is EssentialYes, anyone can learn at any age if they use the correct method to learn the guitar. The bad news is that virtually every guitar method on the market is severely deficient in the information that will guarantee success for everyone. Only the very talented and the very dedicated can learn from the many flawed guitar methods on the market today. The average guitar student is in for a tough time.This is because the biggest obstacles to learning guitar are physical obstacles, meaning, getting your fingers to actually make movements they have never made before, and getting them to do them smoothly and quickly. What all guitar methods are failing to address is that when you learn guitar you are really attempting to teach your fingers, hands, and arms new abilities. You are not really learning "guitar", you are actually engaged in "body learning", so, you must know and follow the well established laws of how the body (your muscles, nerves, and brain actually learn to do new and unfamiliar movements.For instance, one of the laws of body learning is that all movements must be practiced extremely slowly, with great focus on relaxation throughout the body. If you do not do this, if you allow your shoulders to tense when your fingers are stretching, that tension will stay in the shoulders and be reinforced every time you practice. It will feel "normal" to you and you will not know your shoulders are tense. All you will know is that you cannot control your fingers.This happens to a very large percentage of people of every age who try to learn guitar. It will tend to happen more with adult students and seniors because they have had more years to acquire tension in their bodies even apart from practicing guitar. However, if a student knows how to practice the necessary finger movements in a way that does not allow excess tension into the hands, arms, shoulders, and the rest of the body, they will be successful at learning to play no matter how old they are.Learning According To the Body; Not the GuitarGuitar instruction is a disorganized, unscientific, and (compared to piano or violin) a young and immature profession. Many, perhaps most, "guitar teachers" are not teachers; they are guitar players. There is a vast difference. Guitar players know how to play the guitar; guitar teachers should know how to cause other people to play the guitar. However, most of the people I have met who have failed at guitar have taken lessons for years. They were told they had no talent, when the fact is their teacher had no knowledge of how to teach. Unfortunately, such "teachers" often write the method books that the unsuspecting guitar aspirant buys and places their trust in!Such books are often mere collections of guitar information, pages full of chord diagrams, scales, songs, etc., containing no information about how to actually get your fingers to be able to do these things. Worse, the information and exercises are given according to how the guitar works, not how the human body and the human hand work.For instance, all guitar books begin by teaching you chords or notes in the first position at the first fret. By custom, the area of the guitar fingerboard furthest from the body is called the "first" position. So, everyone assumes that a student should learn that first. The problem is that this requires the arm to extend farthest away from the body, which requires the deltoid muscle in the shoulder to work hard to support that weight. This effort (especially in the beginner or older student) will inevitably cause muscle tension throughout the body, even to the point of the student holding their breath! After that, everything locks up and the student will be unable to control their fingers, or will struggle to control them, which is really no control at all. They will become either a failure at guitar, or a handicapped player.Students will suffer greatly from these flawed guitar learning methods, and being insecure of their own potential to begin with, will blame themselves. It does not have to be this way. There is a method of learning guitar that is scientific and based on the laws of body learning. It works for everyone. It is called "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar", and you can find out more about it by following the link at the end of this article.I wish you all success in your sincere desire to learn to play this most beautiful and rewarding of musical instruments.
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