Only a small percentage of guitarists ever reach an advanced level of playing. Many guitarists not only believe, but accept they will never play like their heroes because of the misconception that the aforementioned 'advanced' players attained their skills as a result of their exceptional talent. Whilst there is no denying some players are naturally more talented, talent alone will not produce exceptional playing. Only understanding how to practice and doing this on a consistent, focused basis over a period of time will yield the results we all seek.
There are no short cuts unfortunately. But don't be disheartened just yet. The journey to becoming an exceptional player does not have to be a boring, tedious one. Some people may think of it as an uphill struggle with a big reward at the end. However, the journey has many rewards along the way. And, indeed, the very realisation of these intermittent rewards, may just be what keeps you on track!
In the beginning, everything seems unnatural and this is normal. To sound clich, Rome wasn't built in a day. But, as time passes, and your playing gets better, you will notice the difference. You will start to feel the confidence and authority in your hands, and this will shine through in your playing. No longer will your entire focus be on what your fingers are doing, but rather what the music inside you is telling them to do. The ongoing construction of the bridge between your inner music and your fingers has begun!
The key to becoming a great player is in goal setting and effective time management. You must learn to efficiently use whatever practice time you have and have clear, well thought goals and you must write these down. I can't stress enough the importance of having these written down. And have this piece of paper where you can see it each time when you practice. In your practice log or on your wall. Just make sure its visible so you always remember what these goals are and this will help you work harder to achieve them.
Effective practising is where most players fail. They spend their 'practice' time playing instead of actually practising. Let me explain. When we practice, we are ingraining repeated motions into our muscle memory, we are focused on eliminating any and all tension, we are scrutinizing each little movement of our hands and fingers and a whole bunch of other things which could easily constitute another article. When we are playing however, we are doing just that...playing. Going over our favourite songs, jamming along to our favourite CDs etc. The first step to becoming a better guitarist is realising the difference between the two. Think about that for a second. Do you understand the difference? Once you do, there is one final hurdle between you and the journey to becoming the player you want to be.
Are you dedicated? Are you going to manifest your dreams? Or will it forever remain just that...a dream? A large number of players simply don't have the patience to put in the hours to not see immediate results. These are the players who will constantly be frustrated with their playing and yet will never embody their desire to become a great player. These are the same people who say, Oh, I just don't have the natural ability to become a great player, or I don't have it in me to be a great player. These people are try'ers, not do'ers.
There is another group of players who seem to make good progress in the early stages and then, further down the line, they believe or are led to believe by others, that they are in possession of natural talent, thus rendering the need to practice obsolete. Whether these players possess natural talent or not, they will never come to harness the potential they possess as long as they hold these beliefs.
Once you start to truly believe you can achieve your own goals as a player, there is nothing holding you back. You CAN do it. It CAN be done. After all, in a couple of years time, would you rather be ripping on the guitar or would you rather be ripped up inside because you wasted all that time dreaming? We both know the answer. So what are you waiting for?
Copyright 2008 Andy Mclaughlan