Last week if anyone had asked, I would have called myself an “Intermediate Guitar Player.”
But I decided to start at the beginning of Grade 1, Module 1. Gawd. How humbling.
I was 7 minutes into the ‘song’ and I’m thinking, “Mama make the music stop - Arggh, my fingers!” My fingers hurt because I’m putting them into positions that they are not accustomed to being in, plus changing between only two chords. Example. My finger position on the A chord is below:
Then the ‘anchor finger.’ If you asked me what an 'anchor finger is 2 days ago, I’d be, “Huh?”
All very humbling and yet, also an exercise in perception. I’m really aware of muting strings as well as my solid vs incorrect fingering, and I finally simply let go of strumming patterns and just focused on attempting to make the chord changes in the song without really munging them up.
Then I ended the session by practicing the chords in James Brown “Sex Machine.” Yeah - level 6 stuff, go figure. It’s a different practice with a different finger muscle set and my hand actually relaxed into that practice. I’m starting to have some success with the Root-9 and Root-13 funk chords. Go figure, as A and D and anchor fingers exercises were kicking my butt.
Yeah, it’s a convoluted story, but it was Jusin’s rendition of Sex Machine that pulled me over to his site initially. I’m glad I found it. I just got kicked out of my rut
It’s a good story, Daniel, thanks for sharing! Glad the rut has been busted! Love the Gary Larson cartoon on the cup too (takes me back!), a good reference for that part of practicing guitar!
Every time I’ve learned a different finger placement for a chord, it burns lol. I use your “default” finger placement depending on the song… i.e.: if it’s an A maj → E maj on a quicker song, it makes a lot of sense, and the transition is easier and quicker. Someone with more experience should def weigh in, but I think different songs can often call for alternate finger placement. I learned Justin’s finger placement first… but now I find myself more often than not just barring the 2-4th strings with my index finger… that’s become my new default and leaves a whole bunch of fingers free to add a little sparkle (especially when fingerpicking on an acoustic) with things like an Asus4/hammer on to the 3rd fret, 2nd string … I’ve also seen people use fingers 1 (4th string),2 (3rd string),3 (2nd string)… I hate that one. I feel like my fingers are too fat, and I always mute the second string by accident - I go back to barring with my index. I’m not sure there’s one “correct” finger placement… some are definitely more widely used/make it easier. I am glad I learned Justin’s first, I still go back to it with songs that have an A->D chord progression. I was interested to hear you mention letting go of strumming. I actually practice them separate. I had a huge issue with strumming my first few weeks - or more specifically, not strumming until my fingers were placed, which made for, well, songs that my mother couldn’t even fake recognition of. Personally, I practice them separately… so if a song has a chord change I’m not comfortable with… i practice the perfect chords, and one minute chord changes and drill those, practicing for perfection… but when I’m actually playing a song or working on a new strumming pattern, I practice for flow (after I’ve practiced the chord changes) instead and make sure my right-hand keeps the strumming pattern and I keep the beat… I’m wondering what other people do. I’ve read and heard from several ppl that stopping in the middle of a song is the worst habit to get into.