Supplemental Material for Page 4 (Chapter 1)
More Major Chords
G & C
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Related audio: CD Track 2 (Tuning Notes); Track 5 (Audio for Page 4)
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General info about page 4:
For most students, the G and C chords are much tougher than the A, D, and E. It may be some time before these are even ready to be practiced with a metronome. Of course, everyone develops differently, and some students take naturally to chord playing. However, for the purpose of imparting any advice, we'll assume here that page 4 presents rather challenging material.
Important advice for those just starting out:
If you're very new to looking at chord diagrams and figuring out where to put your fingers, review the information regarding page 2. There is lots of useful information there applicable to page 4.
I try not to rush to page 4. If I can keep a student focused on page 2 for a few weeks, I will. I sometimes "skip" page 4 (briefly), and introduce page 5 first. Ultimately, Sensible Guitar is designed to be "skipped around" to accommodate the different strengths, weaknesses, and interests of individual students. Portions of pages 5-21 might reasonably be worked on before page 4 (skipping any references to the G and C chords, of course).
However, I chose to introduce the G and C on page 4 for two reasons:
1. It completes the introduction of the 5 basic open-position chord forms (A, D, E, G, C). I like this, in part, because not everyone who uses the book comes to it as an absolute beginner. This is a more effective way of organizing the chords for review. It's also more effective from an ear-training standpoint. Giving beginners an opportunity to work with major chords for a while makes it easy for them to hear the minor chords on page 6.
2. Since G and C are relatively tough, introducing them early affords that much more time to work on them. You can proceed through the book as far as page 27 without encountering a more difficult chord. Students can thus "chip away" at mastering the G and C while building numerous other skills.
Within a weekly lesson format, I usually introduce page 4 once a student is comfortable with page 2. First, I'll assign continued practice of page 2, plus "begin trying to form the G and C chords; try to get them memorized". Once that's done (presumably the following week), I'll assign the "G to C" switch, and start looking for quicker formation of the chords. Hopefully, by the third week you can begin to use a metronome for G to C, even if it's slow, with perhaps 3 clicks going by between the chords. Assign the other combinations ("G to D" and "C to D") before too long, or students will habitually head for C after every G (and for G after every C).
Note that I mention time frames for progress with great hesitation. I know from experience that what I've described and recommended is typical and reasonable, but everyone progresses and practices differently. Slower progress is not necessarily a sign of a major problem, just as quicker progress is not necessarily an indication of potential success.
I emphasize the top half of this page heavily. As noted with regard to page 2, the progressions are fun and musical, but all the real progress is made by just working pairs of chords back & forth, giving just the one strum on each. I view the ability to play the progressions as the reward for hard work done on the top half of the page.
Page 8 presents some other ways to play the G and C chord. There are many, and it's impossible to suggest that one way is more correct than another. In chapter 1, Sensible Guitar avoids fingerings that require the pinky. However, the G chord using fingers 2, 3, 4 on the bottom of page 8 is favored by many teachers.
The following text is largely the same info & advice posted on our "supplemental material" for "Page 2":
Regarding the text on the top half of the page:
"Practice the following chord combinations."
This refers to the three shaded areas ("G to C", "G to D ", "C to D").
"Play each pair of chords over & over, giving each chord just one strum."
The "just one strum" part is the most important. Don't sit & listen to your chords, giving strumming repeatedly. This exercise addresses quick switching, so switch, switch, switch!
"Work on quick, smooth switching from one chord to another."
Really push yourself to move your fingers as quickly as possible. Pay attention not only to forming the chords quickly, but also getting out of the chords as fast as you can. For example, when going from C to G, be sure not to sit & let the C chord ring. Give it one quick strum and spring right out of that C position, heading back to G right away. Hustle!
A good sign of progress is when more than one finger gets into position at once. For most folks, fingers 1 and 2 will eventually land in place together as you form the chords, with only the third finger straggling slightly behind. Later, all three fingers will pounce into place at once. You may wish to peek ahead to page 8, which offers a few tips: when going from A to D, note that the third finger remains on the second string. It simply shifts from the second fret to the third. For E to D, the first finger remains on the third string, simply shifting from the first fret to the second. Try not to take these fingers away from the strings as you switch chords. You can even leave them touching the strings as you switch, simply sliding them into the correct frets. This is a harder approach at first, but becomes a nice "shortcut" once your fingers learn the chord shapes. In general, try to keep your fingers close to strings. Don't lift them away from the guitar neck between chords, as it will only take longer to get back in place.
Using rhythms :
It's a good idea to apply the information from pages 3 and 5 to the chords on pages 2 and 4. When you finally get around to working on the bottom of page 4, try strumming various combinations of half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes.
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