Learning Barre Chords Efficiently
The 80/20 rule is something I talk about a lot. You may have heard me reference it in other videos. It’s something that applies to learning guitar in general. And I want to talk specifically about how it applies to barre chords.
The 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto Principle. Pareto was an economist who discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. The idea is that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Here are a few examples of this:
20% of the customers make up 80% of a company's sales
20% of the videos in a video store account for 80% of its rentals
20% of exercises account for 80% of the results
20% of baseball players create 80% of the wins
We can apply this same principle with playing the guitar. We want to get the most bang for our buck. Getting the most results out of the least amount of effort. Or put another way, investing our effort into the areas with the biggest payoff.
When I first started playing guitar, I spent a lot of time doing things that really didn't produce a lot of results. Over the years as I started to teach, I noticed students were doing the same thing. They were putting effort into, and stressing about, things that didn’t seem to get them very far.
By guiding them to do things that were more important, they progressed much faster. That’s why I use this concept in my courses. And today I want to talk about it specifically with barre chords.
With barre chords there are certain areas where you’re going to get more results for your time and efforts.
As guitar players we naturally want to play songs. That’s why we got into this after all! I don’t know anyone who got into the guitar to play scales or warm up exercises. But it’s actually way more efficient to learn specific and strategic exercises to get better at techniques. Rather than just going from song to song to song. There is absolutely value in both! But strategy with technique will pay dividends. And it will let you play the song more successfully. I’ll show you what I mean.
The F Major Chord
The first time you’ll need a barre chord will most likely be when an F Major chord shows up in a song. Let’s say the song is 2 minutes long. Over 10 minutes you only get to practice the chord 5 times.
You can spend 2 minutes on an intentional exercise and practice the chord 50 times.
When you just dive into the song when you’re learning a technique, you don’t get a chance to develop it. At least not quickly. By doing the exercises you’re getting a chance to work on the things you need to work on. In a shorter period of time, and more often.
You’ll be able to see the areas you need to work on, and get the time to work on them. If you only play the chord six times in a song, you only get six opportunities to work on it.
Even though in this case it’s one single chord, that technique is worth 80% of your time. If you’re working on an F Major chord, you probably know the other chords in the song. So why spend more time on them as opposed to F Major?
Another area to apply this principle is in learning common keys on guitar. Key’s you’re most likely to play in. These keys are C, G, D, A, and E (all Major). You could say that the guitar is optimized for these keys. So these keys are more likely to make up 80% of the songs you’ll play.
So what you do is identify the chords in those keys, and practice switching between them. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck rather than switching between random chords. There is indeed value in that but it’s the 20%. At this point you should be looking at the 80%.
Common Chord Progressions
And finally, practicing common chord progressions is a very strategic and beneficial use of your time.
A common chord progression is a series of chords that are commonly used in songs. If you ever thought two songs sounded similar, it’s likely that they used the same progression.
By practicing these common chord progressions you’re practicing the right chord movements. Chord changes you’re most likely to see when learning songs. You’re also developing your ear so you can recognize the chord changes. This makes learning songs much more efficient.
This was a short lesson from my new course Barre Chords For Everyone. I have quite a few videos on YouTube showing different tips and tricks to playing barre chords. If you’d like more help, check out my new course.
This course is the result of 40 years teaching and getting feedback from students on their difficulties with playing barre chords. I know how frustrating this can be and there's no reason to let this hold you back.
Not only will my new course help you nail barre chords, but you’ll also have access to:
75 lesson videos
Play along tracks
And a complete and fun guitar learning experience.
Check out the link below. I hope to see you soon either in the course or in another video.
Bye for now.
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