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Here is Another One of the Major Struggles on Guitar

So I recently did a poll of what was the #1 struggle out there on guitar.

I found another one that was really quite prominent.

If you missed my post from last week, check out the #1 struggle on Guitar. You can read it here.

But there is another.

And man, is it a doozy for many.

Sometimes the mere mention of these words strike fear in the hearts of many.

Ok, buckle up.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

Barre Chords!

I’m actually typing this on Halloween and I think that if there could be a guitar oriented horror story it could be title something like:

The Attack of the Sinister Barre Chord!

Ok, maybe not that, but you get the idea.

It can really be a pain for so many. Maybe you are one of them?

But also, I’m guessing that many of you have conquered that immense villain.

And that should be an encouragement to the rest of you because there is hope on the other side.

The real tonic to that poisonous elixir is this: practice.

Nothing can be a substitute for that very act of practicing.

But what you all should be aware of is that the amount of time needed to overcome this struggle is different for everyone.

While some may get it within days or weeks, others might take months to get it.

The key is to not give up. If you give up, you sealed your fate and gave in to that monster.

I have taught many players and see all kinds of awesome achievements.

And, if you are one of those that gets discouraged that others seem to get it quicker than you, I have news for you:

Odds are real good that there will something else on guitar that will come easier to you that others are going to struggle mightily on.

I see it all the time.

One takes a million years to get it on barre chords but finds scales are a piece of cake while another can grasp a barre chord like its breathing but can’t play a scale without immense frustration.

The key is to hang in there!

Also, if you are trying all of this on your own, it makes it that much harder. 

Find a mentor, a teacher, a friend, that knows what you are going through and has the experience to help you through it.

I can’t say enough about that.

Plus, find some online videos from reputable people to show some other tips and tricks to overcome your struggles. While it isn’t the same as private instruction, it can help and often be a supplement to your private help.

I teach all the time and regularly will point to videos (some mine, some from others) that will help with whatever a student is struggling with.

Here is one video I made to help those of you a little ways into your barre chord journey. It’s a cool exercise called Zig Zag. Give it a go:

playing guitar with good posture

Guitar Posture Problems: 4 Ways to Correct Them

Guitar posture problems can be a real pain.

When you are playing songs on guitar (or any instrument), you know you are in the moment when you put your whole self into it.

Everything is really clicking.

Moments like that are really awesome.

But, there are also times when putting our whole self into it can be detrimental to our playing.

Let me explain:

Many times we suffer from what I like to call Poor Guitar “Body English”.

And it can really hinder our playing and prevent any reasonable progress in our playing. It can be one of the main reasons our songs don’t always sound good, or a lead line just isn’t right, or that those chords don’t sound clear.

I do see it more with beginner players (which is normal) but I also see it with many who took on bad habits learning on their own or via the internet.

So what is Bad Guitar “Body English”?

While much importance is put on how we place our fingers on the strings, what can be missed is how our guitar posture can affect our playing.

And that matters. Poor guitar posture problems like, moving our arms, shoulders, and elbows in unnecessary ways really don’t help those fingers do what they need to do.

Here are some examples of Bad Guitar “Body English” . At the end, I’ll show you the right way.

Check your own self to see how you are doing.

Guitar Problem #1: Rock Star Drift

This guitar posture problem is the one where as you play, your left arm starts drifting, thus pulling the guitar neck further and further from your body.

I see this a lot. Now, if you want to do your best hair band rock move, by all means, go ahead and make that move! But that is all for effect. You can’t really play well always looking like that.

As you drift your arm further and further away, it becomes harder and harder to play those tough chords or melodies. You don’t give your fingers (or your thumb and wrist for that matter) any chance to play correctly.

What you really want to do is make sure you keep that arm back in a relaxed, comfortable position. The key word is to “relax”.

Guitar Problem #2: Shoulder Drop

Here is another one of those guitar posture problems I see with students. This oftentimes happens when we are trying real hard to play a song or work on something real difficult.

So, there is this natural tendency to want to “put our shoulder into it”. Thus, the shoulder tends to drop.

Relax! Yes, relax your shoulder! You don’t really need it much to play your guitar.

It will make your playing life so much better!

Guitar Problem #3: Elbow Swing

Bad Elbow In:

Bad Elbow Out:

Good Elbow:

Sometimes, while trying to get that barre chord to sound right (or any chord, really), the left elbow sometimes wants to compensate and twist and turn.

If you catch yourself doing it, stop! Relax (this seems to be a common theme?) your elbow! It shouldn’t swing out or in.

In fact, one simple test for not swinging inward is to imagine sticking a small pillow between the elbow and torso. It should easily fit there. If not, change it.

Guitar Problem #4: Sit Up!

Yes, just like your mom might have said: “sit up straight and stop slouching!”

While you don’t have to sit up straight like a board, if you end up slouching on the couch too much while playing or practicing, you will either simply play bad, or pick up some really bad habits that will ultimately hinder your progress.

So, sit up! Or, simply stand up, that works too. Your fingers (and your mom) will appreciate it!

Guitar Success: You Look Marvelous!

If you aren’t sure, look in a mirror while playing. Sometimes it can be hard to really see how you look with the guitar.

Often you will see some of that Poor Guitar Body English show up and you can adjust to correct it.

Once you get this down, techniques like strumming your guitar or playing barre chords get much easier!

I hope this helps make you more successful in your playing!Have fun!

Rock on until the next time!

Some Songs to Play to Help You Play Better

I have always felt that songs and/or riffs can be some of the most effective ways of learning and improving on guitar. Here are a couple I want to share with you. One will be mostly for all of you beginners out there. The other one is for those who want to be challenged a bit more.

Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin)

I asked this question a few weeks ago: who doesn’t want to rock out to some Zeppelin?

Ok, even if you don’t, how about a cool lick to learn?

Jimmy Page had come up with so many great, memorable licks and songs.

Here is one that I think that even if you are a beginner, you should be able to figure it out.

It could still be a challenge for you. If so, think of it this way, when you overcome this challenge, think about how much better you will be for it!

TIP: always slow down videos that you are learning from so that you can get it right. Do it to this video if it is necessary

Here ya go!

Whole Lotta Love

Here’s the TAB that contains the main parts: Whole Lotta Love TAB

YYZ (Rush)

Yep, here is one that will challenge you if you are up for it!

Slow the video down if you need to. The song isn’t the easiest to play, I know.

But I also know that some of you want a BIG challenge.

Well, here you go

Have fun with it!

I hope this helps make you more successful in your playing!Have fun!

Rock on until the next time!