In many respect, learning to play guitar proficiently could be compared to a race. And in this particular analogy the process would fall firmly into the “marathon” category as opposed to a “sprint.” Indeed those first few practices with the new guitar prove very frustrating for many, as it is in these initial sessions the student is still learning their way around the instrument. But over time the accumulation of baby steps yields basic competence as far as guitar playing is concerned.
Getting to the point where the student can play basic riffs and chord progressions is intoxicating. But this is no time to let up off the gas pedal. In fact, many students hit a wall after those first few months of practice where they don’t notice any marked improvement.
This stagnation can be crippling for morale, but there’s no reason for the student to allow this relatively minor roadblock to put them off the guitar altogether.
With perseverance in mind, here are some tips and tricks to help novice guitar players to keep moving forward and improve their playing.
1. Take On A Challenge
Those self-taught players who are stuck in a rut may want to consider joining a conservatory or hiring a private teacher. This will take the player out of their comfort zone and place them firmly in a structured and regimented learning environment. Most importantly, classes will allow the student to learn new material and methods.
2. Set Practice Time
Those guitarists who want to truly progress in their playing must set aside regular practice time. This is a necessity, and it requires commitment. It’s not only important to budget practice time wisely, but to spend those regular practices attacking new goals.
3. Focus On The Weak Points
While mastering a new chord or trick is certainly fun, it’s best not to dwell on it. Instead, the student should always focus on attacking the weak areas of their playing and overcoming those obstacles.
4. Seek Advice
It’s important for students to play with and learn from other guitarists in order to develop their skills. Finding out what methods worked well for others will likely point the student down the right path for improvement.
5. Celebrate Individuality
While it’s important to consult with other musicians, it’s equally important for the student to understand that what makes their playing different from others is also one of their major strengths. Just like any art form, it’s all about finding one’s voice.
6. Don’t Get Discouraged
No matter how much a student improves during those initial months of learning to play, there are always going to be moments of frustration. The most important thing is to never thrown in the towel. Because the simple truth is that one day all that leg work will pay dividends in the form of being proficient at playing the guitar.
7. Teach As Well As Learn
For students with moderate skills, spending time with less skilled players and showing them some chords is a great way to think critically about the fundamentals of guitar playing.
8. Play With The Best
It’s important for students to surround themselves with musical peers who are not only decent players but decent human beings as well. That means spending time playing in environments that foster creativity and provide support.
9. Set Goals
It’s important to set goals regarding not only practices, but what the student would like to do with their guitar playing when they reach a certain level. Maybe the student would like to play in a band or perform solo instrumentals. It’s best to clearly lay out this plans early on so the student has a focal point regarding their future in the world of guitar playing.
10. Listen To Anything And Everything
Above all, it’s important for budding guitar virtuosos to devour as much music as possible. Listening to great music recorded by great musicians is oftentimes a great motivating factor for students looking to take their playing to the next level.
These are just a few of things to keep in mind when thinking about how to further one’s guitar playing. But above all, it’s complete music immersion and constant practicing that will allow the student become the player he or she dreams of.
Justin Miller is a professional blogger who writes on a variety of topics including taking guitar lessons. He also writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ guitar songs to learn in HD.