The Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy
June 2022 – Week 1
Beginning Barre Chords – The A minor shape!
Part 1 – The Setup
Welcome to this important lesson. Today we will begin this series with the A minor barre chord shape. Here we are talking nails, the “Elbow/Shoulder Axis, why it’s essential you breath and relax, and the very powerful “Pre-Barre Chord Test”.
Part 2 – Building It Up
Let’s step it up. Now it’s time to methodically build up the A minor barre chord shape one note at a time. This is highly effective and if you focus on applying this method you will very likely improve your barres faster than most. We also play a variety of simple musical exercises to ensure the notes are clear and you are playing them smoothly…
Part 3 – Making Music
Now let’s play a fun 4-bar piece of music to help you test and improve what you’ve learnt so far. I also recap the main points of these three videos and share a few other useful tips to help you improve faster!
Watch the videos multiple times and apply the specific tips daily. Barre chords are technical and tricky. If this is tricky (it is), be very patient and very precise. Also, you’ll be pleased to know the next lessons for June will be more light-hearted (this will bring balance to the force).
Do leave a comment below and share your thoughts on this lesson. Most of all, enjoy!
I am very excited to dive into this lesson. I have been trying to master barre cords for over 60 years and never have I been given a lesson of building up to the cord in this fashion.
Good stuff, Lenny. I hope you are enjoying the lesson so far. Take it steady and enjoy! 🙂
Great lesson Dan, going to take some time though. It’s pretty difficult getting that index finger down. Ill have to keep doing short bursts. It’s amazing how quickly your fingers tire.
Thanks, Angie. Yeah, short bursts is definitely the way forward here. Great that you are aware of the feelings of tiredness in the fingers. Most people try to battle through that which isn’t good. Enjoy! 🙂
Well, this is a fresh approach for me, l’m lucky l guess that l play barre chords on a regular basis but never thought about moving the index. Will have some fun with that playing up and down both major and minor. Thanks Dan. Hope you’re enjoying your break.
Cheers, John, back now and enjoying reading the comments here. Good stuff with the lesson. Hope you enjoy it and it helps you play them smoother or cleaner in some small way. 🙂
Great lesson really well explained as I have never done a bar chord before. Doing well until index finger introduced then ‘minimum pressure’ left the room! Might take me some time to master this but I’ll keep trying.
Thanks, Joanne. That’s a really good start, and great work keeping the awareness of using minimum pressure. It’s so easy to forget about it when trying to make notes sound clear. Keep up the great work! 🙂
Just to let you know how I have got on. Managed to do part 3 okay although still finding I’m using a lot of pressure, but I cannot seem to do part 2, index finger is great without the others and the others are great without trying to barre or bend the index finger. To use the index crooked or straight I feel like my other fingers roll back or flatten against the strings making the notes dead and not sure how I can adjust that.
It sounds like you are doing really well. The dexterity will come. In this situation I would say try to maintain where you are at (which is very good) and focus on improving part 3 and reducing pressure there. Then with slight adjustments and improvements to dexterity, you’ll see improvements to part 2. Keep it up and well done so far. 🙂
Finally I have managed to get both part 2 and 3 done (well 9 times out of 10) it’s taken time and you were right working on improving part 3 has resulted in being able to do part 2. Thanks Dan
Amazing. Well done. Less than a month with this lesson and this is a big step forward for all your playing! Great stuff. 🙂
Wow! My pinky finger is really taking a beating. Guess I never used it enough in the open chords to build a callus. This will take lots of practice to get the strings to sound right.
Thanks for the update. Take your time, Lenny. This stuff is not easy and takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Remember, how powerful it will be for all your playing. Keep up the good work! 🙂
very good lesson, clearly explained. Will need to repeat this a lot, as all going good until the index finger is introduced – it does not want to behave, but I am sure it will do eventually! Great way to teach the shape, finger by finger, thanks.
Thanks, Marion. Glad to hear it. Yeah, lots of repetition with real focus on good technique and using a light touch will be key. It will 100% behave soon, just that muscle memory needs building up – which it sounds like you’ve made a good start with. 🙂
wow, Dan, this is killing my pinky and ring finger. I only last about 10 minutes on stage one. I guess i’ll just do this till it feels better? I also notice that maybe its my guitar, but it seems like to get those 3 notes to ring out is difficult. Meaning, I have to keep adjusting.. then finally its there, but it has to be exact placement. Feels like major pressing down, on those strings. I keep trying to do minimal pressure as you have mentioned before.. again maybe my guitar may not be as easy as others? or… Read more »
wow what a difference a day makes!! Felt like no way is this happening , to today hey it is happening. I guess this shows me don’t give up. Try again and again. Very happy. I’m just on stage 1, will keep at it.
Diane, was just about to reply to your first comment and then read this… Wow, so good and it just goes to show how if something feels impossible one day, sleep, rest and letting your sub-conscious work on it, can make a huge difference. There may be days where it feels hard again, but this shows that you can do it. Keep up the great work! 🙂
Thanks so much for incouraging words, so today adding the index finger… not so great. But will back up and add it slowly. I really like this lesson. Makes me really focus on this one thing! Only for 10 minutes, but its getting there! yea
Good stuff, two steps forward and one back is often the way with this sort of thing (and can give much faster results than the conventional way!). Really pleased to hear it. Those 10 minutes can be very powerful indeed. Keep at it. 🙂
Good lesson, but it will take practice to get it down.
Thanks, Denise. Yeah, be patient with it, you will get this nailed! 🙂
Trying hard to make them all ring true….you really broke down this challenge! It’s sure going to take some practice for me to even sound decent.My fingers are sore!
Glad to hear it. Although hard, try not to let them get sore. Lots of short little breaks, and focusing on reducing tension is key. Sounds like a good start, well done, and keep at it. You’ll nail it! 🙂
Thanks Dan, I have been struggling to play barre chords and this is a new approach for me.
Cheers, Allan. They can be very tough, but stick with the lesson as closely as possible. You’ll definitely get there! 🙂
Whoa, I really need to build up my pinkie finger. But I like this method of starting to learn barre chords.
Pleased to hear it, Vicki. Barre chords do highlight weaknesses faster than most other things, but the good news is now your pinkie (and all-round finger dexterity) will start to really develop! Keep at it! 🙂
Doing better today with the chord but still having trouble taking the fingers off the strings and putting them back in the correct position. Having to build the chord one string at a time.
Good stuff, Allan. Be patient and keep coming back to this lesson. It’s only been a week so well done so far. Small steps! Keep having fun too. 🙂
I’m making progress but it’s still hard on the finger tips.
Glad you’re making progress. Keep going, and keep reminding yourself to breathe and relax. Stop to shake off any tension regularly too. 🙂
I’m not able to do the hook without muting the high e string. I can do a barred a minor but I can’t hold it for too long.
In terms of this, good stuff, still very early days with this lesson, so keep going! Sounds like you’re doing great. 🙂
What a great lesson. Excellent introduction and a unique technique. Like the way that barre chords and triads both work to open up the fretboard
Cheers, Paul. Pleased to hear it. Yeah, it’s very exciting using both to “unlock” the fretboard. Keep enjoying them! 🙂
I have found the barre chords very difficult and also the triads around higher number frets. I started to wonder if it was the action on my guitar that was the problem and not my fingers. So I took my guitar to a luthier who said that the gap between fret 12 and the low E string was 3.5 mm. H shaved the saddle so the gap is now 2.25 mm and the difference is amazing. Barre chord and triads now seem easy and sound good – result! I never had any trouble before, but I have been working with… Read more »
Great stuff, Martin. It really highlights just how important it is to get the right guitar and get it setup correctly. I always say a good workman never blames his tools, but playing a guitar with a really high action is like using a rusty hammer as a saw! So glad to hear the setup has helped. 🙂