Have you ever noticed that it is relatively easy to learn the guitar chords for a song, but it is quite tricky to remember the rhythm and strumming pattern? Don’t worry, that is pretty normal. I face the same issue all the time.
To be honest, this is the biggest issue I always have when I am learning a song or a guitar solo. The guitar chords in the songs usually are the ones that we commonly use in other songs, so it is no surprise that we remember them quite easily. You may need to work on the transitions between the chords though, as sometimes you may play some arrangements between chords that you haven’t tried before. But that is also a relatively easy fix, but the question is, how can you remember the rhythm?
Let’s take the song “A Horse With No Name” that I just taught for my students and online You Tube channel (I published it at the same time as this article). It is a great beginner’s song, awesome, simple chords, but the strumming is a different story. It is not really that complex, as a matter of fact, it is very simple (at least for me) – but I struggled to remember it. I would memorise the strumming, then play the song perfectly on one day, and then on the next day, I would have to learn the rhythm again from scratch. It took me 3 days to really remember the rhythm and strumming.
One of the reasons, was that I was not really familiar with the song, I knew the song and I could sing the melody of the vocal line, but I really never paid attention to the strumming pattern. I would listen to this song as a whole. And I think this is the key. In order to really dig into the strumming and the rhythm you need to listen to the song in a different way. You need to tune to the part that you are working on, in this case, the rhythm and strumming pattern. And you need to repeat it over and over again.
This process just simply takes time and I have noticed, it usually takes me 2-3 days to really get this into my hand (yes hand). What I mean by that is, that I could actually hear the strumming pattern in my head. Keep in mind that it also takes a lot of repetition to really learn the strumming. We try to learn, then we forget and then we have to learn it again, but at some point, you will start remembering more and more. This is just a natural learning curve and I don’t think you can really speed it up or escape from it.
By working on more and more songs you will develop the ability to remember things faster, but I have also noticed it is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, you may slowly lose your ability to pick up the rhythm quickly. So it is essential to keep learning new songs all of the time – maybe one every week or every other week.
I hope that you see now that there is nothing wrong with you and that everybody has the same problem.