I know the obvious answer is going to be practice, but my question is more specific than that. I've been playing for a year now and hit a wall about a month or two ago. It seems I can try to cover the same song everyday for a month but really make no improvements on how accurately I can play (and yes, I take it slow). I haven't learned theory yet, but I'm currently taking lessons once a week to fix that.
My question is, if all I'm really concerned about right now is being able to cover any song I'd like to play, should I be putting my money towards learning theory, or should I change my practice plan and just have my teacher work on techniques with me (or will improved technique be a side effect of learning theory)?

Bonus Question: How do you get past plateaus when you encounter them?
Wicked good q! You're trying fond your personal ax mojo. To get to where you wanna be you gotta break your head open a bit, and find a few short cuts. Find comparably easier songs to learn. That's for your covertune cortex. Make up new riffs to screw around on, to find where your heart is at, particular make your pick hand play a rhythm that cheers you up. Also, if you play with the lights out, or with a blindfold ( stay with me here...) it improves your ear and your fingering. When you DO learn theory, apply it to songs you listen to- when you are NOT playing guitar. Also, typing class helped me, bcuz it made apply the right fingers to the right string and fret. Try whistling a melody, brand new or someone else, then learn it on guitar,again for your ear. In other words, your sense of perfection is beating you down, which isn't rare. Just approach the goal thru a variety of different paths. Teach yourself to love the medium by grasping one element at a time. When you sit with your ax, take on the hard stuff first, save the unchained passion for the end, then put it down. Try a slide, a thumbpick, an ebow, a violin bow, a new tuning, a capo....something more basic and fun. Analysis means you break down into parts. If analysis doesn't serve you, you want to synthesize, I.e. Combine, create, connect. He'll, just air guitar in front of a mirror, then teach yourself what song it looked liked youveere playing. The object is to melt JackBlacks face. G Luck
Theory is always good to know, but if you aren't planning on writing anything or doing too much improvising and just want to play some covers and stuff, it's not entirely necessary. However, if you are planning on writing/improvising, theory can be your best friend.

Plateaus can be a real pain. The best way to get over them is to take a break from guitar for a day or 2, maybe longer. If that doesn't work take a break from what you're learning and find another exercise or song to work on.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
I want to simply get good at covering songs before I move onto really coming up with my own stuff. I feel like even if I understood theory at this point, I wouldn't have the skills to back up my knowledge (ie. not being able to play what's in my head).
Last edited by AndrewB24 at Sep 9, 2010,
I think it is really important to create your own, customized chromatic exercises, tuned to your goals and needs. The goal here isn't to learn scales and chords, in this case, it is to teach your hands the basic motions needed to play the guitar, like alternate picking, in groups of 4, 5, 7, etc. Or teaching yourself finger independence. Just teach your hands how to get everywhere from anywhere, in any way shape or form, and your set
"If you're looking for me,
you better check under the sea,
because that's where you'll find me..."
^^That's my problem though is that no matter how long I practice, which is usually hours a day, my fingers never go to the spot they know they need to be in. And this same problem has been going on for me since I started guitar.
My fingers are dumb too, and I have been playing for 7 or 8 years. In reality I am much better than I personally give myself credit for, and I am sure you are too. If your already good, then you can't get much better right? My recommendation is that you make a video of yourself playing, lock it in a box, and tell your mom to give you the key in one year. Make that two.
"If you're looking for me,
you better check under the sea,
because that's where you'll find me..."
The weird thing about my fingers being dumb is some things come to me really easily, even harder intermediate songs, but than there are other things that I can look at and think it should be easy but it never is.