#1
I've been playing the guitar for a couple years, but when ya get right down to it, my skills are at a beginner level. Sure, I can improvise well. Sure, I can play by ear alright. But I know little about music theory, and I'm practicing at a whopping 40 bpm. I'm 19 years old, and I've decided playing and teaching music is what I wanna do with my life. The next sememster for my community college i'm gonna get enrolled and get my pre-requisites done, and then after that go to a college to learn music theory and composition. But I have a lot to learn. I used to know a little music theory but I haven't studied music theory in like 2 and a half years. I'm ready to take this and myself seriously.

I'm learning from Hal Leonard Guitar Method Book 1, and I've been studying from it for about two weeks now. My technique is awful. My picking hand sometimes hits the wrong strings and I don't know how to fix that. My fretting fingers are weak and I'm learning on a dreadnought. I'm doing the basic chromatic exercises (like frets 1-2-3-4 all the way up the strings to the twelfth fret) but my hand placement feels awkward and my pinky and third finger, while they seem to be getting a little more independent, the strength in all my fingers still feels pretty week after two weeks of consistent practice.

So my questions are: What should I start practicing to truly improve my technique? How can I fix the picking hand problem I'm having? Should I even worry about my aural skills until I know a little more theory and my technique and understanding of the guitar is better? How should I schedule and organize my practice time to get the best results? Are there any threads on this site or elsewhere that would really help me? What would you recommend?

Thank you,
-Mitch
#2
First of all, you've recognized a problem. That's a good start. The next step is to create a plan to correct your deficiencies and start getting better.

The Hal Leonard books are good. I would also recommend picking up a theory book. There are several of them out there. You might also consider picking up an instructor to help you. Having a desire to teach music is good. I started teaching guitar after about three years. My instructor knew what my goals were and got me there. When I started teaching, I knew I was ready.

Hitting the wrong strings is normal. With enough practice, you'll slowly start to improve. Practicing chromatic scales, or any scales, will help improve that. The strength in your fingers will take more than two weeks to improve. Practicing on an acoustic is good. It will build strength.

Things to study? Theory. Scales. Notes on the neck. Chord theory and construction. Building your chord library. Working on lead/solo. Ear training. The list goes on and on.

Determine how much time you have every day and then divide your tasks. As you continue to progress, evaluate the areas you're improving in and those needing more attention and adjust your schedule.
#3
I do need to get another theory book, I mean I have some, but they are more specialized, like one is for technique practice in all the keys(a book for piano), another is a book to improve soloing/improv in all the keys(a book for saxophone), and another is a book with possibly every single chord ever created inside (a book for guitar), but I need a basic theory book beyond the Hal Leonard ones because they are garbage for REALLY learning music theory. And I need to get a music teacher.
#4
Maybe this book can help?
http://www.amazon.com/Music-Theory-Guitarists-Everything-Wanted/dp/063406651X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330045948&sr=8-1
I got it and the first chapter goes straight to notes on fretboard and learning them. Flip through some pages on amazon.

I have the Hal Leonard Guitar Method but all volumes. I peaked ahead, if you havent got those, check out book 1 and 2.

I am just starting out myself and found these books so far very informative.

Edit: book 2 or 3 of Hal Leonard series.
#5
weak and awkward pinkie? no problem, learn thunderstruck, that song helped me A LOT. try to stretch before you play. i had a really high action acoustic and i did decently well on it. you have to PRACTICE!!!! <=== PRACTICE get the mel bay books
#6
hey man, check out justin guitars beginner and intermediate courses. their great and FREE.
if you take up the courses, i recommend you practice longer than justins schedule which is WAY too short but other than that it's really helpfull. he also has blues, jazz and rock lessons.

also look up Steve vai's 30hr guitar workout when you get a bit better.
#7
I'd recommend finding a good teacher if that's possible.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#9
Quote by Hydra150
I'd recommend finding a good teacher if that's possible.


Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. It'll be a few months before that happens though.
#10
Quote by claptoncocaine
hey man, check out justin guitars beginner and intermediate courses. their great and FREE.
if you take up the courses, i recommend you practice longer than justins schedule which is WAY too short but other than that it's really helpfull. he also has blues, jazz and rock lessons.

also look up Steve vai's 30hr guitar workout when you get a bit better.


Seconded. Justinguitar.com has been carrying me through guitar since I started taking it seriously. I just bought his book on music theory and it is GOLD.
#11
Quote by homiealien123
So my questions are: What should I start practicing to truly improve my technique?

You need many things of course, what comes to mind for me is:

Repetition: Get a book, or just make your own collection of exercises for both the left hand and the right hand, and just repeat a few of them consciously. No need for a metronome, the speed will come later. For now, just concentrate on relaxing unnecessary tension both hands. And when you're getting comfortable with an exercise pick a new one on it's place, and practice that.. And after that...

Body awareness: You need to be able to feel in you're body when you're tense. Otherwise troubleshooting technique will be hard, for this I can only suggest a book "The principles of correct practice for guitar" because it's the only book I know for this on guitar. If you practice piano though then check out "What every pianist needs to know about the body". It really doesn't matter how you get body awareness, you just need it. Tai Chi would work too I guess..

How can I fix the picking hand problem I'm having?

No idea, we can't see what you're doing wrong. A video could help, but now all I can say is that if you hold the pick between the side of your index and thumb, move forearm a little when changing strings and pick with the wrist... Just practice. Actually I just saw an excellent exercise by Freepower for picking on the "Songs for technique" sticky. Check it out. Also, spend some time on learning the right playing posture.

Should I even worry about my aural skills until I know a little more theory and my technique and understanding of the guitar is better?

Of course. With a little theory knowledge I'd think you know a scale pattern? If yes, then just play that and sing it at the same time. After that, just start skipping notes and stuff. And sing chords. Play a D triad, and try to hear all three notes and sing them. If you can't, which is very likely without practice. Play just the notes D and F at the same time and sing them.. This kinda practice is easy to do, no reason to not do it.

How should I schedule and organize my practice time to get the best results?

You should list out what you need to work on, my guess: Everything. And then just pick the ones you need/want to work on right now and practice. Give less time (but still practice it) for something you're getting too comfortable with and practice you're weaknesses.
And when you're feeling much success with something, start practicing something else. The positive view on it is important.

Are there any threads on this site or elsewhere that would really help me? What would you recommend?

The Crusade, on columns. And some lessons from the UG, whatever you need.

And The principles book I mentioned is really good, I recommend it.



Whew.. Kind of a long post. I hope I helped even a little. Feel free to ask questions if necessary, I tend to leave out important info when trying to write shortly
#12
I've found that when dealing with situations that involve the hands and their accuracy you need not only Perfect practice (go as slow as you need too in order to make 0(zero) mistakes and then simply move up the tempo slowly as you start to feel like you have the song down at that tempo. You will find its quite easy to learn things fast by following this rule) but also Time. You have to allow yourself time in order to develop the muscle memory, some times when I absolutely cannot get one of my hands to work right I stop playing the song all together and pick it up again a few days later. If its a really difficult song cut it up and do the same for each piece. To date it's worked for me 100% of the time within reason.

If you take both of these and edit them to your needs you'll kill any old bad habit your hands have gained and/or bad practice habits.
Last edited by Quesenek at Feb 24, 2012,