Forcing The Changes
Use the force!
This technique can be a little hard to get your head around but I have seen this make a huge difference to many people's playing, and hopefully it will be a big help to you, too!
Force yourself to make the change in time...
The idea of this exercise is simple. Force yourself to make chord changes faster by not allowing yourself to stop strumming. The benefit is immediate, because if you can keep your strumming going then it will sound cooler and more like a ‘proper' song.
Start by playing a chord sequence that you are familiar with, strumming nice and simple, four down-strums to the bar.
If you're having difficulty changing between any of the chords, try and keep strumming in time— even if you are hitting the open strings—don't stop strumming the even four down-strums per bar pattern.
What you will find is that the fretting hand will not want to let the side down, and that your chord changes will actually get faster. I know it sounds a bit strange, but it works really well.
Don't worry if you fluff the chord up a little; just keep strumming. Force your fingers to make the changes. If a finger goes down on a wrong string, just keep playing, and move it while you continue to strum.
A good tip is to use a metronome and strum along with that, it will force you to keep in time, because many people slow down for difficult bits and strum faster in the easy bits, and that just sounds terrible.
So, try it now with a basic chord sequence that you are comfortable with. Put a metronome on and strum your four down strums on each chord and DON'T STOP—even if the chord goes wrong and you don't get all your fingers down in time—DON'T STOP. Just keep going. DON'T STOP!
Rhythm is a really important thing for us humans, and people will notice when the rhythm stops, but they won't notice if a few notes are missing from your chord.
I can't stress the importance of this enough. It's hard to explain in text, but you have to make sure you don't stop strumming even if the chord changes are not fast enough. If it's a real disaster then slow the metronome down a bit. If you are able to do your One-Minute Changes at 60 a minute then setting your metronome at 60bpm should not create too many problems. If you are struggling it's probably due to the panic of being forced to make your changes fast and smooth, and this is the perfect exercise to sort this out!!
The exercise is important because you need to be able to keep a consistent rhythm before you add in more complex strumming patterns.
It might seem strange at first to do it this way but I've seen it help hundreds of students and read that it's helped thousands more online!
Now lets develop your rhythm guitar a bit!