Chord changes, strumming, and chewing gum

After about a month I’m on Beginner Grade 1 module 4, and holding. I am stuck on changing chords while strumming. I can change cords, and I can strum, but I can’t do both at the same time. Even if I look at my fingers the chord changes get all fumbly, and/or, my strumming falls apart. I’m thinking there is no point in advancing to the next module until I get chord changes while strumming sorted. I’ve tried ‘guitar-karaoke’ and that’s fun, but I still can’t get with the rhythm to change cords in time with the music. It’s sort off like how people make jokes about not being able to chew gum and walk at the same time. Is this normal?


I think I would suggest breaking it down, 1 left had and 1 right hand.

Choose 2 chords EASY to change like D and E and add a strum in the middle of your OMC’s , doesn’t need to be fast. So, fret and E chord and strum , fret a D chord and strum, repeat all you need.

After a bit of practice add another strum, just down strums I think would be best.
E down strum , down strum, D down strum , down strum

Add more and more at a pace to just push yourself a little, you’ll surprise yourself at just how quick your mind can pick up a pattern, humans are fantastic at this.



Hi Skip

100% normal. I’m only 7 weeks in as is my brother. We were chatting last night about just how hard strumming is. Prior to this, strumming would have been the last thing I’d have thought would be challenging but here we are. Mute the strings and just strum. Strum to the tempo, tapping your foot to the beat and even smiling like Justin suggests, which sounds odd but it makes it seem so natural. Then go over your chord changes, averaging 30 to 60 per minute. Then slowly incorporate the strumming once you’ve got the chord changes down pat or close enough. We’ve both realised this guitar gig isn’t as easy as you’d first think but nothing without a challenge is worth it and this is absolutely worth it. Be patient with yourself, go easy and remember, this is foreign to us all. You’ll get there. It’s what I’m telling myself and I know I will. I’m not going to be on stage or making records but if I can play some tunes and have fun, I’m happy.

I hope this makes sense and even addresses the issue. If not, sorry darl. There’s some pretty awesome people amongst this community who will no doubt offer better advice.

Good luck




4 weeks is no time at all but sounds like you likely to trying to change at too fast a tempo for a beginner, especially if you are playing along with other material. Get a metronome and set it to 50 bpm and trying to change on each click. If that is still too fast drop to 40. When you find a tempo where you can make the changes, even if its 2 chords as Rachel suggests, stick with it. Then slowly work on bringing the speed up.

If you are on Module 4 you should be practicing the one minute changes ? How is that going ?



One month is literally nothing when it comes to learning guitar, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Remember that old thing we used to do as kids, trying to pat the top of our heads while rubbing our stomach at the same time? It was difficult coordinating both hands to do different things at once. With guitar you’re trying to do different complex tasks with each hand, which is much, much harder. So it is going to take plenty of time and lots of practice to pick it up, and even more to master it.

Rachel and Cate have given great advice above, I’d definitely recommend trying what they’ve said. Also, instead of trying to play along with a song, try using a metronome instead. Play downstrums on every beat, switching chords every four beats. You can set it to whatever speed you like, allowing you to start very slowly and build up the speed as you get better. The “stress” of getting things right when playing a song can actually hamper your ability rather than help it, so removing that until you’re comfortable with the motion itself may help you.

Edit: :ninja:t2:'d by Toby. :stuck_out_tongue:


Can you please elaborate on strumming.

Are you attempting to strum more than once per bar (on the beat of 1)?

Justin teaches and recommends that when moving to learning and playing songs, in the early stages, you only play one down strum per bar. Keep your arm moving Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up for the full set of counts 1, 2, 3, 4 but only play once.


Thanks to everyone for your advice. I guess I was expecting too much from myself too soon.


haha! every freakin day its a challenge!! Keep at it. I will hit a good day then get cocky and try to add a fancier strum…cat runs out of the room! lol


:joy: I’ve no cat but the neighbours do and I’m sure whilst they scarper, the humans are running about shutting all door and windows. Like yourself, I think I’ve nailed it (just a super basic 2 or 3 chord song), get a little too confident until it suddenly begins to unravel yet I don’t stop. My anxiety kicks in, brain turns off, tempo speeds up tenfold and it ends up sounding like hyperactive mush.

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Hi there! I only able to learn and play one song after a month, in the key of C

The F barre chords do hurt :joy:

Not sure if it is curse or bless without a real teacher, I began my my fingerstyle basic pattern since day one, together with this song

And of course the guitar I started off with… is not a guitar (horribly made plywood guitar) :rofl:

Hi Skip. To answer your question, try to play the songs, even one song, you like. And becareful not to overstretch and hurt yourself, and enjoy the music :sunglasses:

Hey Skip, great to see you here. I’m on week 8 and I realise today that I have actually achieved a little bit. I made a bit of a video, not for publication) of me at 4 weeks in and have done another today and there is definitely some improvement. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s all hard when you are new but just keep plugging away and it does help. I would recommend the chord perfect practice and the one minute changes. Again recording your achievements helps you to see any small improvements. I use the app to play along with. I’ve found that playing chords which are written above words does not push me so I actually seem to do better with the song playing in the app. In the app you can slow the tempo to as slow as 50%. Just keep practicing as much as your fingers will let you. I have also had problems with forearm, wrist and finger pain but a good regular arm massage seems to sort it. My physio tells me that I will adapt to it so keep going. Hope this is a little bit helpful, you’re not on your own. Welcome aboard.

I have the advantage of a 10 acre block up in the hills so the neighbour’s are not being abused. The animals haven’t said anything.

Been going about 7 months and just started grade 2. It has been a lot of small steps forward and many slides back but sticking to the exercises and LOTS of practice and you will surprise yourself with where you suddenly have reached.

It changes from day to day as well. 2 days ago I was struggling with timing on "the green green grass of home " which is a basic 4 down strum. Went back today and got about 90% of Whitesnakes “here I go again” before the finger fumbles got me. I wasn’t too upset as I considered it a big step forward.

I try to have about 12 songs on my favorites and keep plugging away at them. Most of them are basic and easy cord changes but I also pick 2 or 3 that are more challenging or a cord I haven’t covered just as a push. I alternate practices as 1 of the lessons and then a session of just playing with the song App.

That’s just what has helped me, but everyone is different. Main thing is just keep playing and practicing.

PS. I tend to find I sound better after the 2nd double bourbon… but maybe the animals might beg to differ.