1.) Visualization – Before you’ve moved to the next chord in the bar visualise the chord shape you are changing to.
2.) Read Ahead Of The Bar – Read ahead of the bar you are playing so that you can optimise and prepare your fingers for an effective chord change.
3.) Look For Similarities – Look for similarities in the chord shapes. Are there any fingers you can leave on to speed up the process? For example, the change between a C & Am chord you can keep your first finger on. This method is called using “Pivot’ fingers.
4.) Force Yourself To Change In Time – I would rather listen to someone changing their chords in time than someone playing perfect sounding chords but out of time. We are better than that though so we aim to be able to achieve both of the above.
5.) Keep Your Right Hand Moving – Never stop the rhythm of your right hand otherwise your chord progressions will always sound disjointed.
6.) PRACTICE SLOWLY! – The key to quicker chord changes is perfect synchronisation between right and left hands. This can’t be practiced at speed until you’ve mastered the basics.
7.) Learn The Chord Shapes First – You must know all of the chord shapes required first. Trying to learn the chord shapes, strumming pattern and changing in time all at once is too overwhelming. Break it down.
8.) Place Fingers Down Together – Try to place your fingers onto the fretboard at the same time or prioritise the lower strings as you hit those first when you strum the chord.
9.) Don’t Forget The Open String Strum – This is a well-kept secret that I’m happy to share with you all. In between your chord changes and consistent strumming pattern include an up strum of the open strings. This gives you a split second longer to process your next chord change. The listener will not hear this either, it’s like chord magic.
10.) Practice – As always what gets managed will improve – Use the exercises above consistently over a course of a few weeks and watch your chord playing excel. Don’t forget to increase the metronome on each exercise by 5-10 BPM as you gain confidence. Do not rush this process, only do when you are ready for it.