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Learning to play the guitar is a life-long process; it will not happen overnight despite what many of the hucksters on the internet may tell you. As such, you are best to develop some reasonable expectations of how quickly you will progress. There will be challenges along the way (yes, your fingers will hurt!) and too many budding guitarists have given up prematurely, slid their brand new guitars under their bed, and walked away in disappointment… not realizing that they were oh-so-close to a breakthrough that would have taken them on to the next level. Having a mindset that allows for setbacks here and there will really help you in the long run, because you will find that through every challenge you come out a stronger player on the other side.
This article was co-authored by Ron Bautista. Ronald Bautista is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher at More Music & Los Gatos School of Music in California. He has over 30 years of playing experience and over 15 years of teaching experience. He performs mainly as a jazz musician, but also teaches Jazz, Rock, Fusion, Blues, Fingerpicking, and Bluegrass. As an instructor, he focuses on understanding the fretboard and applying music theory to any genre of music.
Start playing the different notes and hold the different shapes. Once you have a basic understanding of how the notes are played throughout the song, you can start to hold each of the chords. If the song consists of chords that you're used to playing, it will make the process easier. If the song uses different chords, it may take some time and adjustment to get used to them. Practice the chords separately if they are unfamiliar to you.
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.
Alright, are you ready to learn your first guitar chord? It's called an E minor. There are two basic types of chords you'll come across, major and minor. Major chords don't have anything after them, ie we just call them G, or C, or E etc. For minor chords however, we abbreviate the minor into just 'm' and add that onto the end of the chord. So, Em.
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.
Electric tuners are easy to use and very accurate. Hold it to the guitar and pluck the high E. The tuner will tell you if the guitar is "sharp" (too high) or "flat" (too low). Pick each note and tighten the string to make it go higher, or give it some slack to lower it. Make sure the room is quiet when using a tuner because the microphone on the tuner can pick up other sounds.
I have heard how giving you are in so many respects of music schooling and I must say that I am impressed. You remind me of the pure idealism that we had in starting Apple. If I were young, with time, I'd likely offer to join and help you in your endeavours. Keep making people happy, not just in their own learning, but in the example you set for them.
Intermediate Guitar Class - Open to all ages, from age three to one-hundred sixty-three, but an audition or permission from the instructor is required. This class is intended to be challenging. Topics covered may include movable bar chords, song forms, repertoire development, fretboard mapping, improvisation, and other advanced techniques. New classes start every month and may be repeated as often as you like. Cost is $85 per month (4 hours).