Posted Mar 11, 2011 11:02 AM
The problem I faced when I was first starter playing guitar was the sheer amount of material I had to cover. I mean, there were chords, bar chords, melody, rhythm, theory, double stops, arpeggios, finger style etc.
I felt totally overwhelmed any time I went to practice and when I did start to practice I always had this hopeless feeling that I wasn't practicing what I should be. I felt that there were always other things I should be concentrating on depending on what mood I was in. For instance, after watching the film Crazy Heart (starring Jeff Bridges as a burned out country guitarist) I thought that I wanted to start playing finger style, country music on my acoustic. So I would begin practicing finger style guitar, and start learning country songs. Then, two or three days later I would listen to a Clash album, and realise then, that what I really wanted to play was punk rock on my electric guitar. Which is, of course, totally different in technique, sound, and well, almost everything compared to playing country music on an acoustic! So I would start learning power chords and turning up my amp for maximum distortion (amazingly good fun btw!), only to discover after a few days that what I really, really wanted to play was music like Fleetwood Mac.
The point is, when I sat down to learn guitar, I would never spend enough time on one particular skill to develop that skill. I would dip my toe into a range of different techniques, and before I could reap the benefits of my hard work and practice I would move on to something else! After a while I started getting frustrated and my confidence took a nose dive. Here I was after six months, with very basic skills. Ok, I had the foundation of many different techniques, but never enough of a foundation that it looked and felt good to play. Since then I have honed my goal, and I know exactly what I want to play and what I want to achieve through my practice.
As a beginner, you should be looking to do the same. Start drilling down, into the guitar technique that you want to achieve, instead of broadly covering lots of different techniques over short periods of time. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but it certainly wasn't clear to me.
Once you have developed your skills in one area and don't feel like a complete beginner, then and only then should you move onto a different skill or technique. Otherwise, you may just feel like you are spinning your wheels and this really doesn't help your confidence as a player!
This is the same mentality that you should adopt with individual guitar exercises too. How many exercises have you started, only to move onto another one five minutes later because you couldn't do it. (I was guilty of this myself). The feeling of completing an exercise that felt impossible when you first looked at it is one of the most pleasing feelings you can get in your beginner guitar career. Not only does it help your confidence, but it feeds the motivation and shows you that nothing is impossible. When you start an exercise you should strive to conquer it before moving on.