#1
Hi guys,

I was sitting thinking today about what steps I took to break through some of my plateaus because I noticed that many people seem to get "stuck" in their current skill level and never progress any further as a guitarist or player of any instrument for that matter.

There are two things that I did that really stand out to me, but before I go into them the first thing to always keep in mind is that you are a human with just as much potential as any other human. As soon as you get into a thought pattern of thinking that your idols are somehow different to you then you are setting yourself up for failure.

You need to know with 100% certainty that you are just like them and the only difference is they have spent considerably more time on their craft. You may not want to be the next Steve Vai but if you did you could be... eventually.

Skill upgrade tip no.1

Surround yourself with other musicians.

This may sound obvious but I know to many people who say they love guitar and music and want to be really great but they hang out at the pub most of the time with their non-musician friends. I know this maybe be hard but if you really want to improve then hanging out with these people is totally pointless.

Join a band or start a band and actively build a friendship with these guys. After practices you should all hang out together, invite the other guitarist over to your place all the time. Having another guitarist around can do wonders for your skill. You will feed off each other and push each other to new heights. Learn all his best riffs an teach him all of yours.

If I never made a full on effort to be in bands when I was younger then I would have never become the musician I am today. It is tough to keep yourself motivated all the time but in a band you feed off each others motivation. If your drummer is feeling down you guys are gona amp him up. If you wouldn't have jammed that day you force yourself to jam because you have a responsibility to the band.

Skill upgrade tip no.2

Meditate.

I'm not saying this to be a hippy. I don't expect you to think meditation alone will suddenly improve your playing but I will explain why it works.

You can even do this only when you are playing guitar but I would recommend practising meditation because it teaches you how to be completely relaxed and present in the moment.

I used meditation to break my speed plateau because I found that I was limiting my own speed by tensing up some of the muscles in my body. This tensing of the muscles was completely involuntary and it would just happen as I was playing especially if the piece was difficult or fast. I knew this wasn't helping, it wasn't speeding up my playing in the slightest, in fact it would just fatigue me very quickly.

Through practising meditation I learn how to be present in the moment and completely self-aware. This allowed me to "turn off" the muscles that were flexing all the time. This allowed me to break the speed limit I was creating and play the guitar with much more ease.

Of coarse practice plays a big role in speed as well but I find that I only learn to play a riff really well and really fast when I consciously engage the "Zen" while practising.

This Zen principle has also helped me in many life situations, to be able to quickly enter Zen is an amazing life improving skill. It can really help with controlling your emotions, getting over addiction, behaving rationally in a tense situation and it also improves your guitar playing. Seriously those Chinese were onto something.

_______________________

I really hope these tips are helpful to new guitarists out there, feel free to pm me if you want some personal advice and please visit my blog if you enjoy my writing, I appreciate it.
Last edited by Victorgeiger at Jun 29, 2014,
#2
I would agree on both those points. Learning from other musicians and learning together with other people is great. I am also a follower of the Zen movement, and meditation is a part of my daily routine, it helps me both with music aswell as other aspects of life, approaching something with an open and relaxed mind helps alot.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#3
Whenever you attempt to help with whatever issue - there will be a group of people who will not appreciate your doing for one reason or another, I am one of those people.

As a human, one thing you'd better come to terms is that your potential is not equal to others. The difference between you and those you idolize is far greater than mere time expenditure - egalitarianism is not an accurate description of reality.

As far as your actual points go - there is merit to them, but these are far from being either groundbreaking or universally helpful as they deal with only a select few of the issues one may experience.

"This tensing of the muscles was completely involuntary" - meditation wouldn't be the first solution on my mind when encountering this problem, conscious effort to control your technique through regimented practice seems more appropriate.

I appreciate your honesty in pointing out that this is your personal experience and not a proven method of improvement, your denial of genetic potential - I do not.
#4
good post .. kudos to all...

my playing improved the most when I my confidence issues were resolved..to do this I also used a "zen" approach to playing..i stopped "thinking" of what I was playing ... and just played it..of course having a firm grip of harmony and theory helped a lot..and yes being in a musical environ with other players is a learning experience beyond all books and lessons..

in many cases "muscular tension" is a drawback .. example-holding a chord form with more pressure and longer than necessary - then trying to play a fluid run after it in a relaxed way..

overcoming the feeling of "i'm lost" in a solo or just playing a song you know well..and how to recover .. this takes a bit of work..but worth the effort..every player goes through this-yes even the best of them

play well

wolf
#5
Quote by Vanhalaf
Whenever you attempt to help with whatever issue - there will be a group of people who will not appreciate your doing for one reason or another, I am one of those people.

As a human, one thing you'd better come to terms is that your potential is not equal to others. The difference between you and those you idolize is far greater than mere time expenditure - egalitarianism is not an accurate description of reality.

As far as your actual points go - there is merit to them, but these are far from being either groundbreaking or universally helpful as they deal with only a select few of the issues one may experience.

"This tensing of the muscles was completely involuntary" - meditation wouldn't be the first solution on my mind when encountering this problem, conscious effort to control your technique through regimented practice seems more appropriate.

I appreciate your honesty in pointing out that this is your personal experience and not a proven method of improvement, your denial of genetic potential - I do not.

I think the point of the potential thing was that you shouldn't think about it. It can't do anything but harm to your playing. If you think you are not "naturally talented", it can make you stop trying because you think you will never be able to become good. Also, if you think you are naturally talented, it may also make you practice less because you may think you don't need to practice. I'm not saying there is or isn't natural talent but everybody needs to work hard to achieve something. Eddie Van Halen played guitar a lot. He didn't learn it just because he was talented. He put lots of time and effort to become good. Yes, I'm sure he enjoyed that a lot and that has a lot to do with you improving. If you are motivated to learn and actually enjoy practicing, you will of course improve a lot faster than somebody that doesn't find praciticing that pleasing.

If you never try, you won't even find out your potential.

Also, I think these points were just recommendations - what you could do if you think you are not improving fast enough.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#6
Cheers MaggaraMarine

Quote by Vanhalaf
egalitarianism is not an accurate description of reality.


I agree with you, there does come a time where you need to accept your limitations and focus on your strengths, but when learning anything new a positive attitude and desire to be one of the best is a real driving force for improvement.
Last edited by Victorgeiger at Jun 30, 2014,
#7
Meditation aids focus sure, I also find it helps you to get on with other people. Besides helping you to concentrate. it pushes out the negative feelings and that helps maintain a positive attitude.

I tried breathing meditation for a time and it helped me immensely. But I got lazy and stopped practicing and the bad vibes came back. Now I am starting from scratch again.
#8
Quote by citizencaveman
Meditation aids focus sure, I also find it helps you to get on with other people. Besides helping you to concentrate. it pushes out the negative feelings and that helps maintain a positive attitude.

I tried breathing meditation for a time and it helped me immensely. But I got lazy and stopped practicing and the bad vibes came back. Now I am starting from scratch again.


I've also noticed a major difference in myself depending on whether I meditate or not, the biggest change is social like you said, interacting with and meeting new people. If I haven't been meditating I tend to get caught up in my ego, try to impress people and "act cool", on the other hand if I meditate regularly I am less shy and more open to have normal conversations with people, find mutual interests and get to know a person.