Read the beginning at Why Aren't You A Better Guitarist? Part 1.
11. Imagine yourself having the skills that you desire. Focus on that and concentrate. Convince yourself that you can do it. Convince yourself that you are already on your way to reaching your first goal - because you are. Its easier to manifest your desires when you can imagine yourself already in possession of it. Keep your positive mental attitude always.
12. Define what you plan to do with your musical skills once you have them. If you plan on releasing your own CD or making a living in music. Learn and study music business right now!! The fastest way to do that is to actually take music business lessons at a college and take private lessons from a pro (or at least a semi-pro guitarist) Yes you can take lessons in this just like you can for learning guitar, songwriting, etc. Do not wait until you are a great player to start learning about this business!!! I can not tell you how many players make this mistake (I made it myself at first and have been studying it intensely for the past few years to get my own career where it is today.)
13. Find out how your favorite players reached their goals. Often times this is hard to do since you can't always sit down and talk to some very famous musicians. But interviews exist as well as a few biographies on some musicians (especially dead ones). Despite the fact that many successful artists don't really talk much about this, you can find some that do. Believe me, becoming successful is a lot more than just practicing and luck! Remember that their strategies won't necessarily work for you because your goals may be different than theirs were. Still you can learn from it.
14. Don't compare yourself to others. There is no need to do this anyway. Music should not be a competitive sport among people, only within yourself. Compare yourself only in relation to where you are in your strategy! Are you on your way to reaching your next short term and medium term goal towards your ultimate goals? Are you on schedule, does your strategy need to be revised?
15. Make sure you are practicing efficiently. Do you really know how to practice the guitar? Are you focused on setting daily and weekly objectives and then practicing in such a way that you will be working towards those goals? These are questions you should ask yourself. The two biggest practicing mistakes I have seen in students (besides not practicing enough) are:
If you are having any difficulties with practicing, talk to your teacher about it. He/she should be able to help you.
16. Play with others in a band or some type of ensemble. It is important to have experience playing with others. It can be in a band or some other ensemble setting. Formal or informal. The main thing is to be doing it. (at least once a month). Some things you just can't fully practice alone. Besides the fact that this can be really fun, it will also help you overcome stage fright if you have it.
17. Measure your progress. Document your practice time. Keep a record of how much you practice each day. For technique things, use a metronome to see how fast you are able to play a particular scale, exercise, lick, arpeggio, etc. cleanly. Write down the result, practice it all week and see if you can play it one or two beats per minute faster by next week (or next month). Keep a record of all the technical things you are currently working on. You will clearly see if you are progressing and at what rate. For other items that are not so easily recorded with a metronome, paper and pencil, record yourself on tape or your computer each week. Keep the tapes for a long time. Listen back in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc. Listen to how much you have grown.
18. Do not pander to your strengths while ignoring your weaknesses. It is not necessary to be able to play all styles of music or every technique to be a good player, but certain aspects are universal, such as: technique, ear training, knowledge of theory, creativity, improvising, etc. Some musical styles will rely more heavily on certain aspects than other styles, regardless, its important to be balanced. If you are a heavy metal guitarist, chances are sight reading won't be as high on your list of priorities as technique. Likewise, a strict classical guitarist won't have much use for improvisation (unfortunately). But make sure you don't avoid weaknesses that you should be paying attention to because if you do - you will be sorry, sooner or later.
19. Discipline yourself. Unlike a sport, you do not have a coach or a trainer to work with you all the time. Nobody is there to make sure you are practicing the way you need to, when you need to, and how often you need to. You need to be totally self reliant. If this is not a normal part of your personality, fortunately there is help for you. Only you can stop yourself from procrastinating. Take the initiative now to go forward.
20. Never give up! Never say can't. Never say I can't. Never say someday. Never say if... If your IQ is higher than room temperature, if you have all of your fingers and if you really want to succeed, you can.
Tom Hess is a professional virtuoso guitarist and teacher. He has toured in many countries through out the world. To find out more check out the official Tom Hess web site.
See Tom Hess on the HolyHell world tour in 2006. Tour dates posted here.
Copyright 2005 by Tom Hess. All rights reserved. Used by permission.