Learning to play chords is one of the first things you need to learn how to do when you start playing the guitar. This can be a little challenging at first, which it’s why you need to keep practicing forming and changing chords. When learning a new chord you have to work on developing your ability to move your fingers to play it when it turns up in a song. Once you’re comfortable playing a new chord you should start practicing changing from that new chord to another chord that you’ve already learned.
What you don’t want to do when moving between chords is remove your fingers completely from the fretboard because your fingers will have to travel too far thus making your chord changes slower. There is less chance for delay and issues when you don’t have to move your fingers a lot in and out of various chord positions. You will find that you are much quicker transitioning between chords when you don’t have to do a lot of movement with your fingers.
When you lift your fingers you just need to raise them enough to clear the strings. The best way to accomplish this is to just relax your hand and allow your fingers to lift up on the neck naturally. Once you learn to relax your hands your fingers will begin to move as a unit, which is what you want when making chord changes.
One exercise to help you get better at your chord changes involves forming a chord you want to play. Put your fingers in position and try to relax them without losing contact with the strings. Now press your fingers on the strings harder than you usually would to play the chord. Once you press hard on the strings try to relax again while still maintaining contact with the strings. Try to do this exercise at least 10 times to quickly get your fingers used to working as a unit on the chord. After a while your fingers will develop the ability to move from one chord and reach another as one.
There are some chord changes that are pretty tough to get the hang of like moving from Em to Am. In order to change from Em to Am you will have to lift both your ring and middle fingers and move them to the second fret of the D and G strings from the second fret of the A and D strings. You will also have to add your index finger to the first fret of the B string.
Meanwhile there are chord changes that are pretty simple since some fingers don’t have to move between chords. For example, shifting from G to Em is simple because you don’t need the second and third fingers to hold their positions in G when you play the Em chord. So when changing from G to Em try to relax these fingers as much as possible and allow them to naturally lift out of the way. Avoid lifting your first finger and put your second finger back on the D string, second fret, and you’ll arrive at the Em chord. Do your best to pivot on the first finger without lifting it.
Don’t worry about timing and keeping the beat when you’re practicing changing between two chords. The most important thing is to work on getting your fingers from one place to another. Even though some chord shifts allow the fingers to remain on a certain fret. For example, if you want to change from the D chord to A7 you won’t have to use your third finger to play the A7. This means you can allow the third finger to relax and let it rise up out of the way without you trying to lift it. If you actively try to lift it you’ll be adding one more job for your hands to do, which is not what you want here.
Even better, some chord changes are great for beginners because one finger will remain on a certain string in both chords. Moving from the D chord to the E7 chord is a great example of a chord change where the finger stays on a string. The more difficult chord changes are those that don’t have a common string. When trying to switch from one chord to another when they don’t have a common fret or string you’ll find it helpful to concentrate on moving your farthest finger to its proper place in the chord and then position the other fingers. This helps because the farthest finger usually does the most traveling across the neck so it makes sense to move it before the other fingers.
You could also try moving your first finger first in order to make it easier for your fingers to move from chord to chord without a common string. Focus on moving your first finger to its right place in the chord and then position your other fingers. Whether you move your farthest finger first or your first finger first is up to you to figure out which method works best for you.
Getting your fingers accustomed to transitioning from one chord to the next is challenging. Practice the exercises outlined in this guitar lesson and you’ll get your fingers used to working together on any chord. Soon your fingers will be able to change chords as a team.