I struggle changing chords while strumming

I subscribed to the app for a year at the end of December and just recently finished grade 1. I’m doing pretty decent with 1 minute chord changes. Where i struggle is changing chords while strumming. I’ve gotten to the point where I can play Lay Down Sally with minimal mistakes and recently played along with the radio to it…that was awesome. Anyways, that strumming pattern is all down strokes. As soon as I try other patterns like DDUUD, I struggle to change chords while continuing to strum. Any advice or exercises I should be doing to help? I’m thinking that I might just stop with songs for a bit and switch to just a metronome at the BPM of the songs I want to play and do the strumming pattern and try switching between the chords of the songs I want to just the metronome.

Anyways, I’m really enjoying this whole experience. I really want to get into fingerpicking style and have a goal of playing the Eva Cassidy version of Time After Time by the end of the year. I love P!nks rendition of it. I just love the sound of fingerpicking.

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Hey there! Yes this seems simple but is hard at the beginning. I still have plenty of learning to go in this area.

Your idea with the metronome is good. Slowing it down is helpful, like always.

Also take time to entrain the strumming pattern. Practice it a bunch without worrying about cord changes. Mute the strings if you want ( easier than holding a single cord and sounds better to the family than open strumming).

The idea is to get the strumming pattern on autopilot to some degree, then add the cord changes too it while slowing down and not trying to be too fancy.

Over time, it will take less effort to entrain the patterns, just like the cord changes. Then all you need to do is put the two preset programs in your brain together.

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Stay the course. If playing guitar was easy then everyone would be doing it. Practice, and if you practice long enough you will eventually get better at it. No guarantees though. :slight_smile:

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Yep, it’s a leap for sure. Highly recommend the approach Justin advises of practicing a strumming pattern on its own with muted strings, just so your strumming arm gets used to the motion on its own. Also I’ve found that catching some open strings when you’re changing between chords more often than not sounds and works well!

When you start to apply it to songs specifically, slow the bpm down as well, you’re not thinking about too many things too quickly whilst doing that.

Have faith, it will come with practice, time and patience. You’ll get there :+1:

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Hey Dave. Sounds like you’ve got a sensible approach to getting the strumming going. Slow and steady, starting simple, and building from there.
Its much like learning to drive a manual car. At first everything is slow and deliberate, as your body learns to coordinate in new ways. After a little while, it becomes subconcious.
A good start, in fact essential I reckon, as mentioned above, is starting with muted strums, so all the focus is on the strumming, without worrying about chord changes. Thats how I begin when learning any new pattern.
Next step is to take a simple progression, say E-A-D. Strum the E, DUDUDUDU for 4, or even 8 bars, ( 1+2+3+4+), then the A for 4-8 bars, then the D for 4-8 bars. Start nice and slow, say 60bpm. Once you nail that one down, and it feels natural, then move on to the old faithful D-DU-U-DU. All the best.
Cheers, Shane.

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Great advice. I just set the metronome on 60 and was able to do a d e changes on the beat. I struggled going from g to c but I will work on it at this speed and gradually speed up. I’ll pick 5 songs or so and practice the choir profession at this slower bpm for awhile.

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All I would add to the excellent advice you’ve been given is don’t stop with songs as you mentioned in the original post. Yes, keep practicing the one-minute chord changes, yes, practice strumming patterns with muted strings, but trying to play the songs, while at times frustrating, trains your brain to put the two individual activities together. As Justin repeats often, learning to play songs helps keep you motivated and enjoying the guitar. One of my early goals was to play Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” for my wife using the strumming pattern you mention. I kept practicing it as part of my routine. I found that one day it all just clicked and I have found that to be true throughout my learning guitar. Keep at it, it will come!

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Don’t stop with songs because of this, rather solidify those basics with a strumming pattern you know. Try DU|DU|DU|DU first and keep it evenly paced. some patterns are harder than it initially looks; don’t get discouraged by that.

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Same boat. Strumming? Coming along. Chord changes? Getting there. Strumming anything more complicated than DDDD while changing chords…well, it’s humbling. Like patting your head and rubbing your belly on steroids.

I agree, don’t give up on songs. Be stubborn and I believe it will come. I do find I’m more dogged if I’m practicing a song I really enjoy listening too and playing. Some of the songs and riffs just don’t do it for me and I’m not motivated enough to perfect them. But songs I love, much easier to push myself.

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Hi Dave, I’m working on that issue too, what really helped me a lot and @sclay already mentioned, is to separate certain main chord progressions out of the song. I first do perfect fast changes with this chords, first two of them, then add the others step by step. Then I change chords every 8 or 4 downstrums, simulating a bar or two bars, first very slowly, then while setting the metronome on a certain speed. I play the same progression on and on for about one or two minutes with the metronome. When this is working well, I use a more demanding pattern, like Old Faithful, first very slowly, then by increasing the speed step by step. Next step is to integrate the progression in the song. It takes time, but it will get better with continous practise. I found out, that my changes together with the pattern are not that bad and there is no bigger problem with the rhythm, but it sounds sometimes unclean because of hitting the strings not optimally during my upstrums with a thicker pick than .46. I first thought the changes were my problem, but I realised (after experienced 100.000 changes) the main issue are probably my upstrums with a thicker pick. I tend to be caught by my high E string, this causes a certain kind of divergence to the next upstrum. BUT: it’s getting much better!

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@dafowler06 This is excellent advice from @Helen0609 and actually mirrors what I am doing at present, there is a lot of things going on, keeping to the rhythm, tapping your foot, changing chords and the strumming and it just take practice, practice, practice. And it will improve, with me it is slowly but I do see improvements. The other thing I do when learning a new strumming pattern is count out aloud the beats and if necessary the ‘ands’ it works for me.
Keep at you will get there.

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@dafowler06 hi Dave I’ve just gotten into module 4 and the DDUUD strum pattern threw me for a bit. I found for me the easiest way to get used to doing it with chord changes was:

  • Practice the strum pattern with a metronome. I found it very tricky to leave out the 3D at first.
  • Practice it on a song with easy chord changes. In my case that was “I belong to you” by Lenny Kravitz, which is in the app and only involves changing between Em and Am. I had already got that song pretty down pat in module 3 using the DDUDUD pattern.
    After that I found moving to other songs and chord changes much easier, although changes to Dm are still giving me grief :sweat_smile:

Regards
Murray

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Thanks everyone. I appreciate the advice. I will keep at it.

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This!

I’m currently working on passing module 5. Today, I jumped back to module 3 to check my progress, “I belong to you” was the first time I could strum on the beat and change chords in time. Probably because I did lots on OMC on all the chords while also practicing the C chord. Feels good, man!

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I feel your pain and was just happy to see this post and all the replies ! The struggle is real - just keep at it!!

Yeah, it’s so odd. I can do strumming patterns. I can do chord changes. But put them together and my brain goes wonky.

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Exactly - its a hot mess when i combine them! Then i find myself talking out loud…“what the hell was that???” :rofl: The replies here are extremely helpful and encouraging!

@dafowler06
I think you just need to persevere it will come in time.
Wait to you start singing along as well, I have just started to try that, not very successful at the moment🎶

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Well I hope your dialogue is not quite at this guy’s level.

(11) The Angriest Guitar Player In The World!!! CRAZY! - YouTube

Glen

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