Author Topic: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes  (Read 825 times)

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Offline Spanks

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Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« on: April 28, 2018, 07:56:47 pm »
So now that I have baby calluses starting to form on my fingers I'm really trying hard to improve the speed I can change between the 12 chords I know. I seem to be getting along with the 1 minute changes exercise but sometimes I actually find it stressful and have a meltdown while doing it because of the timer. Can somebody suggest an alternative exercise to try if I have a drama with the 1 minute changes? They do say variety is the spice of life :)

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Offline DarrellW

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2018, 08:39:40 pm »
I never used the 1 minute changes idea, I always play to a metronome - I found that it was sort of less intimidating.
Start off at about 30-40 bpm and work your way up, don’t fuss too much about 60bpm (60 changes) try playing songs that’s more important than getting changes up to speed - learn songs..... learn songs....... learn songs!
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Offline Joerfe

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2018, 10:26:14 pm »
To me the 1-minute changes makes good sense. It is great for programming that muscle memory going from on particular chord to the next.
After 5 years of playing I still use the 1-minute concept drilling one change to another when I encounter a combination of chords/triads/diads/whatever that I haven’t played in a while.

Yes, the “play songs” mantra is great and very valid indeed. But when it comes down to programming your muscles to do the changes without thinking about it, I think the 1-minute changes rule.
/Jesper

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Offline Stormya

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2018, 04:48:04 pm »
Isn't it a little bit of all things. 1 minute changes, keeping in time with a metronome, cha ging without the pressure of a timer or metronome, play songs - ones with chord changes you find hard, as well as those that you find easier (confidence building and there's also always room to improve), and also doing changes slowly to get the fingers in position before arriving at the strings (forcing the changes). It's all good. Don't expect miracles - plod / plough on.
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Offline Spanks

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2018, 01:05:52 pm »
Thought I'd leave this post for a few days to get some replies, so thanks for your replies! I'm not expecting miracles in only a few weeks, that'd be foolhardy. I've been trying to just keep up with the metronome instead and it seems to be serving me better, thanks for the advice, I'll keep plodding along.

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Offline plywood

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 01:07:55 pm »
It wasn't until I stopped doing the 1-minute changes that I really improved all my chord changes. I found the metronome approach to work better for me. With classic 1-minute changes the number of changes I was making per minute didn't follow any sort of upwards trend, I'd often stagnate at around 30-40 per minute. A lot of times I would regress and seem to get worse over time.

What I did instead was to set the metronome to 25 BPM for example, and count out 60 changes of the chords like F-Am-F-Am (that's 4) at that speed, as best and as cleanly as I could. When I felt I was comfortable at a certain BPM, after practising it for a couple of weeks usually, I'd bump it up maybe 5 beats to say 30BPM. Over time I'd bump up the speed until reaching 60BPM. Nearing 60 I'd usually have to stop at 55bpm for ages, but I don't remember ever having to go back down doing it this way.

I found several advantages to this approach. First, I didn't have to keep track of all the 1-minute counts, just which chord sets I was practising and which BPM I was currently at. Over time I simplified it down to 2 speeds to avoid faffing with the metronome so much (e.g. practice one set "fast" at 50bpm and another set "slow" at 35bpm). With 1-minutes I was getting kinda obsessed about my chord-change spreadsheet! Plotting graphs of my max changes and nerdy stuff like that. A lot of these graphs looked more like a cardiogram than an upwards trend. It was all pretty meaningless.

Next, doing controlled timed changes removes any kind of cheating. What I mean is that with something like F-Am, changing to the Am chord might be pretty quick, as it is one of the first chords I practised. But changing from Am to the F is slower in comparison. In free-time 1-min changes, my changes were jerky with F-Am going quick, then Am-F slower. I might have been able to do 60 F-Am in a minute because that transition took less than a second, but only 10 Am-F as that one took me 4 or 5 seconds to swap. Overall it averages out to a higher changes count than the reality of the trickiest change permits. This is not musical either, and when I practised that way, even if I could make say 40 changes per minute, I was still too slow to use the chords in songs. By using the metronome, it forces me to slow down on the quicker transition and gradually pulls the speed of the slower one up. It feels more like how I practise chord changes in songs, having to change based on the beat.

Another advantage is that I spend more time on chord changes that I find more difficult. In normal 1-min changes I'd maybe do 30 changes max on the tricky ones. But with this approach I always do 60 changes. On speedy ones I'd spend 1 minute as before, running at 60bpm, but on the tough ones it might take me 2 minutes to get through the 60 changes at 30bpm. I felt that this extra time helped.

Finally, I just enjoyed this approach more. I started to loath 1-min changes. Pretty silly, I know. Because of the competition with myself to improve I found them surprisingly stressful, as you say. I was all tensed up doing them and they sounded really bad. Slowing down with a metronome made the changes feel comfortable, and while they are not exactly music the rhythmic tick-tock of the metronome and the chord changes together are not as ear-splittingly bad as the random cacophony from before.

Offline DarrellW

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 03:07:10 pm »
Another thing to add to ^^^^^^  is that using a metronome encourages consistency in your change, to me changing chords consistently is of more value than changing in fits and starts, it makes your playing more fluent.
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Offline mbmert

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2018, 08:31:30 pm »
I do all of these. Each has its own benefit. Put metronome on some beat then make changes that much(e.g. 80 bpm -> 80 changes = 1 minute). Do sometimes regular 1-minute changes, it will shows how much you can stress that change. Adjust your metronome according to regular 1-min ones. Then work on songs, don't stick to same patterned songs.

Because of the only 1 song on the book( Wild World), now I'm working on G(with finger 2-3-4) to other chords I know. I don't prefer G with 2-3-4(I always muted A string, so I gave up this fingering so long ago), I always used 1-2-3 fingers. But on this song, you need to move your index finger for a riff. Be ready for everything.

Offline PeterU

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2018, 09:16:20 pm »
I do all of these. Each has its own benefit. Put metronome on some beat then make changes that much(e.g. 80 bpm -> 80 changes = 1 minute). Do sometimes regular 1-minute changes, it will shows how much you can stress that change. Adjust your metronome according to regular 1-min ones. Then work on songs, don't stick to same patterned songs.

Because of the only 1 song on the book( Wild World), now I'm working on G(with finger 2-3-4) to other chords I know. I don't prefer G with 2-3-4(I always muted A string, so I gave up this fingering so long ago), I always used 1-2-3 fingers. But on this song, you need to move your index finger for a riff. Be ready for everything.
I've found a two pronged attack has worked for me and it got me through months of stagnation on the f Barre chord which I'd struggled with for ages on the 1 minutes until the penny dropped.

The approach is to work on progressions slowly and accurately. Aim is 100% accuracy every change. Use the ones in songs you want to learn and you kill two birds with one stone! Start on maybe 60 BPM and work up - it's also a great way of practicing different rhythms too as you can work these into the progression.

Plus also do the one minute changes to build speed. Don't be too fussed about hitting the first note clean but equally don't be sloppy. This is about developing the speed and muscle memory.

What I did to break through on f Barre was each time I hit a sloppy change I STOPPED and immediately looked for the cause. It's since worked too on others and means I've developed less bad habits and a better awareness of what I need to work on.

Seems to work for me - certainly got me through my f Barre nightmare by helping develop accurate and ever faster changes.

Ironically I could never get over 60 on the one minutes for say f Barre to G measured as F-G-F-G equalling 4 changes. But I manage to play songs with this change reasonably accurately at around 120 BPM!

I'm increasingly finding it's about knowing which tools work for what situation and how best to apply them.

Cheers

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Offline mbmert

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2018, 03:46:47 pm »
I've found a two pronged attack has worked for me and it got me through months of stagnation on the f Barre chord which I'd struggled with for ages on the 1 minutes until the penny dropped.

The approach is to work on progressions slowly and accurately. Aim is 100% accuracy every change. Use the ones in songs you want to learn and you kill two birds with one stone! Start on maybe 60 BPM and work up - it's also a great way of practicing different rhythms too as you can work these into the progression.

Plus also do the one minute changes to build speed. Don't be too fussed about hitting the first note clean but equally don't be sloppy. This is about developing the speed and muscle memory.

What I did to break through on f Barre was each time I hit a sloppy change I STOPPED and immediately looked for the cause. It's since worked too on others and means I've developed less bad habits and a better awareness of what I need to work on.

Seems to work for me - certainly got me through my f Barre nightmare by helping develop accurate and ever faster changes.

Ironically I could never get over 60 on the one minutes for say f Barre to G measured as F-G-F-G equalling 4 changes. But I manage to play songs with this change reasonably accurately at around 120 BPM!

I'm increasingly finding it's about knowing which tools work for what situation and how best to apply them.

Cheers

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The problem is how reasonably accurate are the changes. I'm always trying to play the songs on their own speed and I succeeded many of the songs on the first beginners book. Using changes on the songs is a lot easier in my opinion. Because you make the change in a very short time but then you let your muscle to rest. In 1-min-changes, you force your muscle and memory to make this change freakin many times. Create a song which has F-G-F-G in a bar on 4/4 ts and try to play it on 120  ;D

Offline tobyjenner

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Re: Different approach to getting faster at chord changes
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2018, 04:21:42 pm »
This

https://www.justinguitar.com/en/BC-145-ForcingChanges.php

surprised no one has mentioned it. Yes 1MC with or without a metronome (me personally with and one that auto increments BPM) but this is a clincher. And yes I agree with Jesper about continuing to use the 1MC approach to new chords or new progressions - still doing that in the Blues Rhythm.

Not sure if the OP reached this stage yet but bare it in mind for the future if not there yet.

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