Most guitar players desire to become a better guitar player. Guitarist ask me quite often why they are not at the level that they desire and what can they do. In the past I have asked myself the very same question. Soon I began to understand the answers.
Just as you have probably done, I have read a lot of how to play guitar interviews and articles from great guitar players. I often found it frustrating whenever the subject of learn to play guitar came up or when advice was offered on improving someone's playing. With a few exceptions, little time and space was ever devoted on this.
It is not uncommon to see a guitar player give advise to learn to play the guitar summed up in as little as three words: Practice! Practice! Practice!
I remember when I first was learning how to play guitar I would practice on some days so long that the ends of my fingers would be tender to the touch and hurt for days.
We all know that practicing is the main ingredient. Does a football player practice a few times and then is able to play up to the caliber of an NFL football player?
Rarely are we told anything more than on how to play the guitar then to just practice. In my long quest to become an excellent player I carefully took note of what worked and what did not - which parts conventional wisdom are accurate and which parts are (at least in my opinion) are not. I believe the following twenty tips have proven to bring great results to those who use them:
1. Educate yourself!It doesn't matter what current level you at can and should always learn guitar more. If you are currently in a position to learn guitar online, studying a home guitar study course, or have a teacher for you to learn how to play guitar then your on the right track. If you are not doing this (or if you feel that your current home study course is not helping you enough in reaching your goals) I strongly recommend looking for a new one.
I can not stress enough how important it is to find a good home study course that is right for you! Your home study course (or teacher) should always be Goal Orientated. If its not look for another course or teacher to study with! You don't need a home study course or teacher to simply give you information or things to practice - you can get those things anywhere, what you need is a study course or teacher who:
A. Knows what your goals are.
B. Cares about helping you reach your goals.
C. Knows how to help you reach your goals.
2. Listen to more musicThis is really something that helped me. There is a lot of music out there that you have not heard. I am sure you can find something you really like and that would inspire you. Look on the internet if you can not find it on the conventional radio. Check out internet radio. You can customize what you hear based on your preferences; its a great tool! Check out web sites that you know feature a lot of the music in the style you like. Listen to the guitarist in the background. Listen to the strum patterns, picking or anything else the guitarist is doing.
3. Turn your musical frustrations into an asset in the form of a motivating forceI used to get frustrated when I was trying to learn how to play guitar. I would use this frustration to motivate me to play the next day and then the next day and all afternoon sometimes.
4. Believe in yourselfYou have probably heard that phrase many times before. It's sad how many people don't believe in their beliefs or themselves. If you don't believe in yourself, you will not grow as a guitarist. I always in my mind say, "I can do it; I know I can." This can be a driving force no matter what you want to accomplish in life. If you start something and never thought you could accomplish it in the first place than you probably will not.
5. Understand that becoming a better guitarist means becoming a better musician as wellWhen developing your musical skills, make sure to think beyond the skills that are specific to guitar. You will be working on many guitar skills - various guitar techniques, chords, scales, soloing, etc., - but don't neglect other skills that are not guitar specific like ear training (also called aural skills and very important), songwriting, improvising, creativity, reading, music theory, etc. When I was learning how to play guitar I would work with a pianist once or twice a week with ear training, creativity, and even music theory. Don't limit yourself.
Each of us has some natural ability of some kind. You may already know what yours is or you may not yet discovered it. If being a better musician is not coming easy for you that simply means you are like the rest of us.