One Minute Changes Exercise

This is the most important exercise for you to learn at this stage in your playing. While the Chord Perfect Practice focused more on getting each note in your chords accurate and perfect (as the name implies), the One Minute Changes exercise is more about speed. If the chords sound a little sloppy as you’re going through this exercise, don’t worry about it! We’re just concerned with getting the fingers into the basic chord shapes quickly and on time.

The Concept

The concept is simple: pick two chords and see how many times you can switch back and forth between them in one minute. This works better than any other method I have ever heard of for developing your chord change skills. It's really quite astounding how well this trick works. I started teaching it as a game for kids but have since applied it to anyone learning guitar. Again, it is one of the key lessons in the whole beginner's course, so check it out and use it every practice session. It really works wonders!

Set A Timer

The big trick is to really focus on a particular chord change for one minute, using either a stopwatch or a countdown timer. I have timers and a statistics counter built into My Practice Assistant which is free on your dashboard - we'll talk about it more when we get into your practice. 

I used an old kitchen timer when I was learning, but you'll find the practice assistant far superior. If you're away from the computer you could use a timer on your phone - if you're super lazy you could just ask "Siri" (if you have an iPhone) so you don't even have to touch it! All you have to say is, "Hey Siri, set me a one-minute countdown timer," and it should start!


This exercise is great because it addresses two common hurdles beginner players often face – dealing with finger pain and getting chord changes fast enough to actually play any song.

As far as pain goes, one minute isn’t very long at all, so you should be able to endure any finger pain for that long. If your fingers hurt after the exercise, though, just take a break before moving on with your practice session.

And yes, this exercise will help you immensely once you get ready to play actual songs! Nothing trips up beginner players more than slow changes in a song. We’ll explore this further later in the lesson, at which point you'll thank me for this exercise!

Tracking Changes In My Practice Assistant (and App!)

Another great thing about this exercise is that you can literally see your progress over time. The goal is to get up to around 60 changes per minute, or one change per second. In the early stages, I’d say to at least get to 30 changes per minute before moving on to Lesson 2 in the Beginner’s Course.

If you want to get into tracking your One Minute Changes, you can use My Practice Assistant (free on your dashboard).

You'll also find that my Beginner Song Course App has One Minute Changes practice tool built into it so you can watch your progress (as well as hundreds of awesome play-along songs specifically designed for beginners). Available for Apple iOS and Android - but I do more of a sell on that later - you don't need it to do this course - but if you want to get good fast and play songs well it's an incredible tool that will help a LOT!