Learning a new chord sucks.
If you’ve ever tried to play guitar, you’ve had to go through the rocky road of chord acquisition. when done wrong it can be slow, painful, and worst of all, it can hold you back from learning a song you love.
What if there was a way to accelerate the process, a method you could follow to add chords to your quiver faster than anyone else?
Luckily, there is a way. (If you don’t want to read and just want to watch the video, scroll to bottom of the post.)
Before I share my favorite technique with you, let’s backtrack for those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about.
What is a chord and what does it look like?
All you really need to know is that chords are a series of notes that sound good together.
On a guitar, we create shapes with our left hand to hold multiple notes at a time, which creates a chord.
There are many different shapes. Thankfully, most songs we love use a few basic chords such as these:
The secret to learning new chords is to understand that 80% is about muscle memory.
What is muscle memory?
Muscle memory is what allows you to jump on a bike and ride away without thinking. It’s about creating pathways in between your brain and your muscles.
Think about it as walking on the exact same path over and over, eventually creating a clear trail.
Once you’ve created the trail, your brain can use it every time it encounters the same situation with little to no effort. You don’t have to think about what you’re doing when you ride your bike, do you?
(There’s a fun example at the beginning of the video below, at 00:25)
Two important details to remember to accelerate muscle memory:
- Go over the same exact path every time. The more accurate you are, the faster you create the trail.
- Don’t stop until you’ve created a clear trail or the weeds will come back quickly.
Introducing “Playing With Pressure”
This technique which I like to call “Playing with Pressure,” is one that I learned from classical musicians (tip: always look at classical musicians if you want the most effective techniques).
It’s the first exercise that I teach in my course, 3 Months to Guitar Independence.
I ALWAYS start here when I learn a new chord.
We use a mix of pressure, relaxation, and precision in order to dramatically increase the speed at which your fingers remember the chord shape.
So without further ado, here is Playing With Pressure: (the details of the exercise start at 2:25, but I recommend watching the whole video).