How quickly can your fretting hand switch from one chord to another? The speed and confidence you have in making chord changes will be key to further mastering the guitar and successfully playing and creating music for the instrument.
The key to learning any instrument, like most intricate human activity, is to develop brain and muscle coordination, more commonly called, muscle memory needed to play the instrument. If you picture a basketball player, for instance, the key to a good shooting performance is the proper hand-to-eye coordination in order to bring the ball up, prepare, aim, and throw it towards the hoop. The different muscles of the arms, wrist and hands will learn the right movements and strength needed to score. Constant practice will condition the brain, eyes, and entire body to know the routine of shooting the ball.
This is similar to guitar playing. The muscles involved would be the arms, wrists and the fingers, with the eyes, ears and brain working in unison to relate the movements to the music being read and the notes produced by the guitar. This is the mechanism that works when a guitar player starts to change chords.
Luckily, there are simple techniques that can help the beginning guitar player to develop these muscle memories and ear training for proper chord changes. Read below and you will see that chord changes are not that difficult to do.
When changing chords, first memorize all the chords involved in the song, and then visualize exactly which fingers of the fretting hand are involved in playing the chords. When playing simple barre chords, the most important finger is the index finger, which will squeeze all 6 strings across the fretboard. So as you move towards playing the chord, you have to position the index finger across the proper fret, or place, along the fretboard before positioning the other fingers of the chord. When playing a broken or simple chord, it is usually the index finger that is the most important finger. Primarily, the index finger and the thumb will form a stable anchor on the guitar neck in order for the other fingers to press the other strings of the chord. The index finger is usually played on the lowest fret and the highest string (by pitch, or string x), where it could more easily find the proper note, and the other fingers can follow to complete the chord.
When playing a particular song, keep time with the music, but anticipate in which bar and on which beat the next chord will continue. For beginners, it would be preferable to practice the entire song slowly from beginning to end, taking care to change to each chord on time and on tempo. When the student can play the entire song like this without chord errors, he can start increasing the speed to the song's proper tempo. It would also be helpful to identify particularly tricky chord changes. For instance, 2 consecutive bar graphs would be a relatively simple change, because the guitar player needs only to slide his index finger (which is already in the barre position) to its proper position on the fretboard and quickly press in the other strings of the chord. Changes from simple chords to barre chords