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Improve Your Chord Knowledge
Written by Gary Fletcher

Here's a simple exercise you can use to build your chord knowledge when you're not playing guitar. Exercises you can do when you don't have your guitar help you to get extra mileage from your limited guitar practice time. You can work on them any time and any place, all you need is a few spare minutes.

One of the best ways you can make good use of your time away from the guitar is to build your knowledge of chords. No matter how long you've been playing there is always something new to learn about them. There are endless sources of new ideas and information. Find yourself some chord theory books, lessons from Internet, or study the chords used in your favourite songs and those of the great song writers.

Chord Spelling

Chord spelling is an exercise that helps you integrate your chord playing knowledge in your memory. It's really easy to do. Pick a chord and simply spell out loud or in your head the chord's notes and how you play them.

For example, let's pick the open C major chord, here's how you might spell it.

"I put the third finger at the third fret of the fifth string, the root C note. The second finger plays the major third, E, at the second fret of the fourth string. The third string is left open to play the chord's fifth note, G. My first finger plays another root C note on the first fret of the second string. The first string is open and plays another major third, E."

See, it's really easy to do and it helps you to learn notes and your fretboard all in one go. Of course, you might want to carry around some chord diagrams, or write out the notes, if you haven't committed them to memory.

As you try chord spelling you'll probably also discover that your mind's eye automatically creates images of your fingers as you play the notes of the chord. So the exercise stimulates your mind through several channels, increasing its effect.

Spelling a Chord Progression

You can use the spelling exercise to help you work on your chord progressions too. It can be a little tedious to go through a progression note by note, but of course if you can do it then it's an excellent exercise.

You can make your chord progression spelling a little simpler, though. Let's look at an example with a simple bar chord progression. "I play the A major I chord with an E form sixth string bar chord at the fifth fret. I move down one string to a D major IV chord in an A bar chord form. I move the A form bar chord up two frets to the seventh fret to play the V chord, E major. Then I move my index up one string and back to frets, returning to the A major I chord again."


There you have all you need to get intimately familiar with all the chords you play on the guitar. Chord spelling exercises help you to learn and memorize chord fingerings, build your knowledge of chord notes and intervals, and help you learn the notes of your fretboard.

All that in one easy to use exercise that you can do anywhere, riding in a lift, waiting for a bus, standing in the checkout queue at the shops. What are you waiting for? Get started to improve your chord knowledge today...

About the Author

Gary Fletcher is a writing guy, who spends too much time not playing guitar.
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