As I said before, I wanted to talk about the absolute beginner. Now, with that being said, this article is a collection of personal experiences that I have documented from past and current students. If you would like any advice, please feel free to contact me.
Topic: Practicing tips
The question I hear the most often, and this is mainly from my beginner students: “How often should I practice?” or “How much should I practice?”.
Well, honestly I answer this in many ways. I know that both children and adults are busy people. School, work, friends, family are huge factors in juggling their schedule around. I never say, “Oh practice 12 hours a day!”, because with someone who learned just 2 chords, how realistic is that?
When a student is at that level, I ask them to give me 20-30 minutes a day. If I am dealing with children, I ask them to do their homework first, then practice. :-)
The more you start learning, and depending on the type of musician you want to be, practice more. The important thing to remember here is make it worth your time. When learning something new, learn it until you get it right. After that, your fingers will know where to go and you won’t have to practice that one thing with so much intensity.
Now, I believe this last part is important, although, many have disagreed with me in the past. If you are not in the mood, don’t practice! Even I have come home and said, I am not in the mood for this tonight. That doesn’t mean I don’t play, it just means I’m not so intense. I might sit in front of the T.V. and noodle around. If you make someone do something they don’t want to do, they will grow to dislike it.
Lastly, have fun! I know that sounds funny considering that last statement. No matter what you know or do not know, play with your instrument; experiment. Crank it to 10 and make noise! Sunday afternoons I like to experiment with different sounds, effects, or the whammy bar or just plain nonsense. It really makes it fun and you might stumble upon something really cool!
If I may, I would like to talk about this a little bit more. I believe this is a very important and overlooked topic. Please, I am not a doctor, nor am I giving medical advice. If you are having some pains as a result of playing guitar, please consult a physician!
When I show beginners how to form a chord, usually they all do the same thing: contort their arms, wrist and shoulders while applying the death grip. Now, I have been there too and forming your first chord is difficult. Keep in mind, your fingers are delicate and in time they will form calluses, but in the beginning stages they are going to be a little sore. Don’t push! Play one note at a time, then move to the next note.
Be mindful of where your thumb is placed. Pick up your guitar by the neck. Notice how your hand fits nicely with no strain. Now, sit and form a chord. Depending on the chord, your thumb should just need some minor adjustment. (I know its hard to sometimes understand without a photo, sorry).
You can learn anything from anyone. Listen to other guitarist that you meet or associate. They are a wealth of information. Define good and bad and make your own assumption. Remember, we are musicians and we like to talk. Also check out youtube, utilize UG, talk to the guy playing guitar at your local music store.
I hope this helped a little. Any questions, please contact me.
Thank you for your time.