Strum with loose, relaxed motion. Strumming consists of downstrokes and upstrokes in various combinations, striking all the notes of the chord evenly and rhythmically. Use your wrist to practice smooth up and down motions. Keep your elbow in tight towards the guitar and sweep the pick down all the strings. Your elbow should not move very much, as you strum mostly from the wrist.
Start off figuring out what style you are looking for. Is it acoustic or electric? What music styles are you looking for? From country and bluegrass all the way to heavy metal and rock, there are so many different styles of guitar music. If you are just starting out and are not sure what to begin with, this is okay. Some instructors are very good at teaching beginners and helping them find out what they are passionate and good at. If you do know what you are interested in, the best thing to do is to find an instructor that teaches that style. On Lessons.com you can do this by reading through the teacher’s description.
In order to play your favorite song, you’ll need to learn guitar chords. Use the images and instructions below to learn how to play each chord. The ChordBuddy device can be used for assistance in knowing where to place your fingers In the images the circles represent where you will be placing your fingers (I=index, M=middle finger, R=ring finger, P=pinky). The X’s represent strings that you will not be strumming while the O represents strings that will be played without any frets.
If you are practicing regularly, like you should be (at least once a day) be sure to change your guitar strings once a month. You will be amazed at how much of a difference in sound quality a fresh pack of strings will make. You don’t need super expensive strings. When I was starting out, I got by quite happily on my local music store’s house brand of strings that cost about $4 a pack.
When you play the right note or chord, you will hear it. It will be a pleasant sound, it will be clear and won't have any blocked string sounds (unless it needs to, but you'll get to that later). To play a note or chord correctly, you have to get your fingers in the right position and press as hard as you can on the frets; it will become a habit if you practice enough.
Using the same claw-like finger positioning on the second fret, you can play an F# chord. Move to the third fret, and it becomes a G chord. It's a difficult finger positioning to learn, but you can start playing the chords to any rock or pop song relatively quickly when you learn to strum and play barre chords. The Ramones, for example, used nothing but barre chords to great effect.