Why Aren't You A Better Guitarist? Part 2

Another ten concepts you need to become a better guitarist.

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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:

  • Practicing is not goal orientated.
  • Not understanding the difference between playing one's guitar and practicing one's guitar.

    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.

  • 50 comments sorted by best / new / date

      dave musselman
      In my opinion I can play quite well,ok? no brag just fact. That being said what he said about learning the biz is good cause I could figure out how to sound like Clapton but not make any money doing it. At least not enough to live well.
      semi-re
      this isn't a good article, you dont need to need this, all it says is set goals, and practice (even though he begining by complaining about people saying practice practice practice) if you want to become a better guitarist stop reading "inspirational" articles like, and pick up your guitar and start practicing, sure check out lesson and new practice techniques but the only way you can become better is by practicing yourself shite like this doesnt improve your playing ability
      zx7r
      Tomhess just tried to write a helpful article for beginners. Its orite, but guitar playing is about practising and getting better from it. I practise every night for about 1 hour and I've really improved in the last year.
      tomhess
      Thanks again to all of you. There are many plans for MANY more articles to be posted here by me very soon!
      Sinoque
      I especially liked this phrase "if you're I.Q is higher then room temperature" good one... gives hope to everyone, except me... *cries* .... good article man
      Spanky Lynch
      good article, da room temp thing is a bit crazy... but in the end, it really is all down to practise. In some ways you almost make playing the guitar sound like a chore.
      DString
      Itis a pretty good article, he very repetitive with the goals. Goals are good, if you know what goals you need to set and how to apply those goals. How do I work on playing those lightening fast solos? Practicing apeggios, hopefully getting progressively faster, or simply hammer-ons and pull-offs in the same manner or both here lies the delimna.
      Subliminal_Daze
      Excellent article. I especially think that the bit about learning the music business is important. You'll find out quickly that the music business is 10% music, 90% business. Obviously, there are some amazing artists that aren't as known as others who may not be as skilled, but the more known artists (believe it or not) have a firm grip on the business. Definately a good point. Keep the articles a-comin, man.
      nightrune
      i have a problem, i did this my first year and now i cant come up with my own stuff cause im stuck in paterns im now trying to break
      fox69
      hmmm again, this states the obvious a lot. it gets annoyin a lot how full of himself he is too. "its really how i got my career where it is", "I've toured around the world". s'far as im concerned this adivce don't help that much. we all have goals, i dont think some1 needs to tell us we do.
      jimjam3
      i like the part about overcoming stage fright in a band.. it's true... 100%... lol... increases own precieved self-worth also.... which then increases self esteem!!
      ahmyfingers
      yo people, all dis is true, dedication and a good musical education(see what i did thereit seems, is the only way to suceed, unless you are EXTREMLY lucky. This guy who wrote this obviously has his head screwed on properly, cheers!!
      !{TheWall}!
      I think you should just play when you want. I don't believe in playing a fixed number of minutes a day to get closer to your goals. I say just play when you feel like it, and eventually, you'll naturally achieve your goals.
      gc_punk27
      pretty good, helpful, but i'm still confused on the part of what to practice.. i agree with the above comment, if your forcing yourself to practice, your proly not gonna want to, but if you just do it when you feel like it and practice what you want, you might be better off... i dunno, does anyone have any tips on how to program or something a DigiTech pedal? i have the hardest time w/ mine because sometimes i need a clean effect and sometimes i need a distortion effect, and they are like 30 effects away from each other, is there a way to program them next to each other? i tried to read the book that came w/ it but i haven't really had time to try it.. so maybe i'm just wasting my time typing all this.... i dunno, but if any of you have figured that out, tell me how u did it! thanks, and keep up the good work, mr. hess!
      original_rocker
      It all depends wether you're actually planning on having a career in music....in which case its a good idea to study the business as well as practicing etc. If (like me) you're only playing for fun/a hobby or whatever then theres no need to worry about it so much....i mean obviously i have a sort of unrealistic dream of being in a big band etc...but i dont take it too seriously...
      Android0818
      If your IQ is higher than room temperature, if you have all of your fingers and if you really want to succeed, you can. that made my day
      Dime_The_God
      Good article but not every guitarist studied the music buisness....some didnt even know how to play a guitar hardly or didnt know anything about it and still kicked ass at it. R.I.P Sidney Vicious (Bass Player For Sex Pistols)
      joyful womble
      why need it all be so goal orientated? sounds more like a revision guide than a guitar article to me
      Stryker_66
      joyful womble wrote: why need it all be so goal orientated? sounds more like a revision guide than a guitar article to me
      Not all has to be goal oriented, but let's face it, without a goal what are you trying to achieve. If you want to play a particular song well, is that not a goal? Goals with specific focus and how to get to them will get you better return for your investment of time.
      cokeisbetter
      joyful womble wrote: why need it all be so goal orientated? sounds more like a revision guide than a guitar article to me
      womble's right man... You should be laid back.
      tomhess
      Just to let you all know, I posted a reply today on the Why aren't you a better guitarist "part 1" thread. thank you,
      dimebag7
      very good article, i think its good to practise a bit of every style. sometimes they help you with speical things that only that gerne does alot. or whatever lol
      local_hippy
      Adding 21st point i wud say dat people also try to watch live concerts or videos of unplugged versions of bands or artist e.t.c. That boosts your passion to play more and good.i always used to get better when ever i watch something live.and good article but somepoints seems to be the same but with differnet view...7/10
      jam from pearls
      this is a load of bull you shud just pick up your guitar and play it. learn whatever you want, whenever you want. although he was right about one thing - you shud start a band as soon as you think you are good enough
      guitar7masta
      well actually metal4ever6328, lets say you know a really easy riff, like say, the main riff for Enter Sandman, you are really good at it so you play it everyday, but you aren't practicing it, you're just playing it. You've already got it down perfect, so you can't practice it anymore.
      Dime_The_God
      Good article but not every great guitarist studied the music buisness....some didnt even know how to play a guitar or what strings were what but they kicked ass at doing it. R.I.P Sidney Vicious (Bass Player For Sex Pistols)
      kennethdave
      This is quite OKAY. It motivates u. This shit is easier said than done. Except for the part imagine your skills. That helps me a lot.
      electrohead
      Great article.. as for the bit about how hard it is to meet famous musicians... well, let's just say i know Ozzy Osbourne
      fahd
      Very helpfull awesome. Aplicable not only in learning guitar, but almost everything u adviced is universally useful to do anything. Basically u talk abt discipline. I love it.
      mehrdad
      Another cool stuff from him.well,every time I read tom's material its kinnda like .....>awakening and I feel "co'mon its gonna be late you have to work harder to get rid of this procrastination".Tom Hess you are truly INSPIRING. Anyways,"if... If your IQ is higher than room temperature" that was awesome!