Your next goal for learning your song is to play it using the strum pattern you just learned. Your biggest obstacle to achieving that goal is making your chord changes fast enough so that you don’t have to break rhythm every time you come to a chord change. So how do you speed up your chord changes? You should be practicing your chord changes, one strum per chord [demonstrate] a lot, in order to build good muscle memory. And your anchor and lead fingers should be helping you change a little quicker. But still, you have such little time to move your fingers, it seems impossible even at slow tempos, much less playing the song at full speed.

Here’s one more trick that make this task much more manageable. I call it the smooth move. It’s another name I made up. Like the anchor finger and lead finger, the smooth move isn’t a pair of training wheels that you’ll discard once you’re better. It’s a trick that every good guitarist uses.

The idea is that when you make a chord change, you lift your fingers right before the last up-strum in your strum pattern, so that you actually strum all open strings for a split-second, before your fretting hand moves to the next chord. This gives your fretting hand a little more time to get to its destination, and while you’d think hitting those open strings would sound bad, people don’t even notice it. I’ll use the folk strum pattern, the one you learned in your first strumming lesson, as an example. Notice where that last upstrum is, on the “and of four”. That’s where I’m I’m going to lift. Just watch my fretting hand here.

Down, down-up, up-down-lift, etc.

Next I’ll take you through a lesson where you’ll learn how to do the smooth move playing the song you’ve chosen. Just so that you know what you’re getting yourself into here, the smooth move will significantly speed up your chord changes. It is not, however, a piece of information that will suddenly give you superpowers. You’re still going to need to spend time building muscle memory for the smooth move to work--maybe a couple hours total of practicing, maybe quite a bit more. For those of you who’ve played sports at a high level, this kind of repetition will be probably be familiar. For the rest of you, you may have to dig deep to find the motivation to the upcoming exercises. At least you can be confident that this process, repetitive as it might be, is super-efficient. Most people who teach themselves just muck their way through the song over and over. With this approach, you learn the song much more quickly, and you’re developing accurate muscle memory that will serve you for the rest of your guitar-playing life.

If I haven’t scared you off yet, here we go!

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