Getting Rhythm - Three Tips for Guitar Beginners
If you are just starting out learning guitar one of the hardest things can be getting a good rhythm and keeping that rhythm going while you change chords with your left hand.
When I first started learning guitar I would strum along happily until the chord change and then my right hand would stop while I changed the position of the left.
This makes your playing sound terrible. In fact if you can keep that right hand strumming or picking the sequence, you will sound good. If you are a bit slow with your chord changes and strum some open strings in between you will still sound good. But lose that rhythm and everybody knows that you are messing up.
Here are my top three tips for getting past this learning stage.
#1 Play open strings for the last beat in the bar so you have time to change chord shape. For example if your are to play | G G G G | D D D D | C C C C | instead play | G G G O | D D D O | C C C O | where O is a strum of the open strings. Listen carefully and you will notice a lot of guitar players do this. And it sounds just fine.
#2 Move your body to the rhythm. When I started out I was told to tap my foot to the rhythm. 1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 I just couldn't do it. It seemed like one more thing to remember and overloaded my system. Then I learned to move my head to the rhythm and immediately my timing improved. I would nod to the beat and move side to side a bit as well. I guess it's just horses for courses. You need to find what works best for you but if you can't tap your foot try nodding your head or even bouncing the whole of the top half of your body. Get the beat rattling through your bones!
Increase your tempo gradually one beat at a time. You can use a metronome to keep time but I prefer a drum machine. I need to really hear that beat in order to know that I'm with it. You can get Metronomes and Drum Machines to download to your PC. For an excellent free drum machine visit www.just-jammin.com . Once you have your drum machine, set it up so that there is a heavier beat on the first beat in the bar. Then set a nice easy tempo. If need be start as low as 70 beats per minute. When you can play your piece smoothly at this speed play it again at 71, then 72 etc. You'll be surprised at just how quickly you can get up to full speed.
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