“Success is 10% talent and 90% hard work” – you all heard it, right? Well, there is a good reason why this saying is so popular. The reason is simple – it is the truth! Many people give up playing guitar (or doesn’t even start) because they believe they don’t have music talent. I’ll tell you honestly, during my career as a guitar teacher teaching kids guitar lessons and adults, I haven’t seen one student who couldn’t learn to play the guitar. Everyone who is dedicated and willing to practice will become a guitarist without any doubt.
In the text below, I give you a few pieces of advice on how to practice and build your guitar playing skills.
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One of the most important rules that you should remember is that it is better not to practice than to practice in the wrong way. Our brain remembers every move we make, so it is crucial to play correctly. Some of you may say: “Well, how can I play correctly when I just started playing?!” You can do it with one simple trick – play slow.
Play slow = Play correctly
In the beginning, you should play as slow as you need to in order not to make frequent mistakes. I know this can be a little frustrating, but believe me, this is the only way to make progress. If you speed up before you can play a note or a chord properly, you will probably start to make a lot of mistakes.
If you are having a hard time with this phase, just remember the fable about the rabbit and the turtle – it is better to slow down and be focused than to rush and to eventually fail.
In the process of learning, you will sometimes come to the part of a song that is too hard or too complex to play. This is completely normal – after all, learning to play the guitar is not all beer and skittles. When you come to this point, remember to never ignore these problematic parts! What you should do is divide them into smaller segments and practice each one of them separately until you learn every part. After you have mastered it, put them together again and play the whole song. Learning the “hard parts” is the best way to make progress!
Can’t practice ‘till you learn it
Often my students ask me “How come I can play a song at home, but I can’t play it when I’m jamming with friends?” Students usually think that they have learned a song as soon as they play it correctly for the first time. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Remember that you have played a song correctly for the first time, i.e. only once.Can you really learn something by doing it just once? Of course not! The truth is you have just started practicing the correct way of playing. This is why you should keep practicing even after you learned a particular song.
Specify your goals
Psychologists have found that when people set specific goals they are more likely to achieve them. There are two kinds of goals, long-term (for example in one month period) and short-term ones (one day or lesson) and you should set both of them. An example of a long-term goal would be “I will learn five new songs during next month”, while the short-term goal could sound something like “Today, I will play the A minor scale 20 times without a mistake at 100bpm”.
If you say “Today I will learn new scale”, it is not a very specific goal. What does it mean to “learn” a scale? To memorize it? To play it correctly once? As we said above, playing something correctly for the first time doesn’t mean you have really mastered it. This is why you should set goals that are as specific as possible.
This is a very simple technique that can be very useful if you implement it in your practicing routine. The point is that you divide your practice into sections of 25 minutes each, with 5 minutes break between them. This small break between two practicing segments will help you to stay focused and also to rest your hand.
The difference between the people who play the guitar and the ones who wanted to play it but didn’t is just in one thing – the first group was dedicated and willing to practice. If you have a strong will, all you need is the guitar. Follow these pieces of advice, practice regularly and I guarantee you that before you know, you’ll be playing all of your favorite songs.
About author: Learning to play guitar can be tough, especially in this day and age with so many distractions around and stresses at work. That’s why at Guitar Tuition East London, we try to make it as easy as possible. Making it fun and enjoyable process, while teaching important skills of how to practice. So that students can also make great progress at home.