Guitar lessons: Chords and strumming tips for beginners


The guitar is perhaps one of the most popular musical instruments in terms of the number of people showing interest in learning. If not millions, thousands of them will be at least there, making it the second famous pick after the piano. The reason for choosing a guitar can be different. But most people pursue it because of the influence of lively pop music. Plus, it is an easy way to play one’s favorite song. Then, you can sing while playing it. However, as with any other thing, the guitar has some nuances and technical aspects. You first have to become comfortable with them to gain skill.

You can hire a guitar teacher or look for a music school in the neighborhood to get started. Make sure you focus on the professional and recognized ones only when searching ‘guitar school near me. After all, proper guidance can make a lot of difference to your playing talent. You can learn about all the components and use them to your advantage. For example, you may have heard about chords many times in the context of a guitar. Beginners usually struggle with the difference between chord and note. It can happen to you too. However, you can get an edge over others by polishing your knowledge a bit before starting the real training.

To be precise, a chord can refer to a group of three notes. When you say C major chord, you essentially indicate playing three string notes  C, E, and G. Strumming these together means you play the C major chord. C is the root note, and others follow it.

Initially, you have to remind yourself that chords are two types: open chords and barre chords. The open position consists of the first three frets on the guitar’s neck. As a beginner, you would learn about them before moving to complicated barre chords. To play barre chords, you have to use two fingers to hold almost all the strings across various frets. You can press your finger up and down the fretboard to produce unique sounds.  There are free worship chords online that you can practice.

Once you get hold of the chords, you will be eager to learn to strum them. It is the real beginning of playing music. Strumming is not too challenging to pick up, and you will also admit it after practicing it. According to experts, you can strum hassle-free if you are already aware of the three to five chords and how to shift from one to another. Strumming is an essential part of guitar playing, which can get smooth if you know about rhythm, timing, and fretting. Even if you don’t know about the latter, you can still grow your strumming skills and progress in other areas. So, you don’t have to worry.

Strumming a guitar

You can initially use a light plectrum and gradually move to using your thumb and index finger’s edge. To begin, you can pick E major chord or any other that contains six strings. Brush the plectrum downwards on the wires to produce sound. If it is an acoustic guitar, you will have to strum over the soundhole. While doing this, you need to leverage your forearm and wrist. Make sure you move your wrist along with the forearm. Your movement should be smooth as you slide across the strings. 

When you pick upward, you can initially struggle a bit. But it will improve over time with practice. Hence, you don’t need to lose your sleep over this. At the time of picking, your plectrum can get stuck. You will need to adjust it to avoid getting caught. Again, it is the most common hurdle that guitar learners face. So you have to continue to practice to overcome this.

A sneak peek into a few strumming patterns

All strumming patterns tend to be in a 4/4 measure, meaning four even beats for each bar. Beats are quarter notes that you can count as 1 2 3 4. You can divide four beats into eight notes like this: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|

So when you play a down strum, you can press down the chord on every beat, such as 1 2 3 4. With a down strum pattern, you can add two up-strum motions after number 3 and number 4 beats while the rest of them remain the same. You can continue with the other patterns, such as three up-strums, down strum on the downbeat and up strum on the upbeat, etc. Just remember one thing that all the upbeats fall on ‘&’ and downbeats 1 2 3 4.

Besides down strum and up strum, you will also learn about accented strums and skipping a beat. You miss a beat when you down strum 1 2 3 while leaving first ‘&’ and playing second ‘&’ between them. Accented strums indicate strumming individual strums harder.

Final words

Any musical instrument contains lots of depth and layers, and the guitar is no exception. As you learn it, different milestones will unlock, leaving you with a feeling that you need to know so much more. The journey can be more exciting if you develop a real interest in the process. The more you dive into the ocean of knowledge and practice, the more your playing skills will advance. However, it’s entirely up to you whether you use your talent for career or habitual pursuit. Many successful guitarists devoted themselves to guitar playing to reach the level that every ambitious guitarist would want to one day.

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No matter what you desire, the main thing is you should get yourself properly trained. Once your foundation becomes firm, you can direct your energy into any direction of your choice and feel happy with your acquired talent. In many places, you get reputable music schools. You can shortlist and visit some of them to arrive at that one place that can help you nurture and elevate your interest. 

So, if you want to play guitar, it will be best to start with formal training. Guidance from a professional can make many concepts clear and help you achieve your ultimate goal.

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