Reply To: Barre Chords

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I have been doing my best to avoid teaching barre chords too early. I have observed that many students (especially younger/smaller ones) simply don’t have the hand strength needed to play barres correctly and as a result develop poor habits such as rolling their barre finger back for extra support.

In my opinion, this is akin to allowing trumpet players to squeeze out high notes before they’re ready for it – it may be rewarding at first, but will be a detriment in the long run.

Sometimes, I have found a better substitute to be a lesson in transposition instead and I will demonstrate how playing a ii, V, I progression in D major is going to be a lot easier than in E major.

When students are ready to start barring, I like to demonstrate good technique by having them place their hand out with their palm up and just bring the straightened first finger up with the thumb pointed more left than usual.

When they start chording, have them pay careful attention to create contact with the fleshy part of their finger – not the joint – they will get a better sound and not have to press as hard.