Posted Oct 01, 2016 12:03 PM
So let's face it, playing the guitar is not an easy task, regardless of what people say or how many guitarists are out there. Sure, you'll find plenty of people that are good with their showing off of sweeping and tapping and etc. flashy stuff. But the thing is, you need to ask yourself. Do you want to be a musician? One that people, at least around you will remember for your art? Or just someone that knows how to play fast and will just go down on the list of those guys you see trying desperately to get attention with their pointless speed at the guitar store. These guys often end up affecting their not-so-skilled peers who end up wanting to give up on the instrument because of lack of improvement. Well, today I'm here to tell you why you shouldn't be giving up on the guitar, or any instrument for that matter.
So let's get this straight. You are into playing the guitar solely because you are passionate about it. Not because you want to impress others. Now you're hitting obstacles along the way and you see zero improvement regardless of the amount of practice you are putting in. Here's a list of why you probably are not improving, and how you can change your ways, and hence, why you shouldn't be giving up what you're not doing very well at.
1) Stop trying to imitate someone elseA very basic and common thing I've noticed in players today is that they try to make their playing based on someone else. Now I'm not saying you can completely start from scratch and just be original. That is technically not possible when you know nothing about your instrument. However, if you're going to try and hold chords and try to do bends and palm mute and do everything like one specific guitarist that you idolize, you may be hitting a roadblock. And the reason for this is simply because, when it comes to a musical instrument, the same technique doesn't work for everyone. It can be because you don't have muscles that work like that, it can be because your fingers are not the same size as the one you are trying to copy. It's usually something you can't really do much about. However, what you can do is find your own way to do that same technique to make yourself sound exactly like the one you are trying to copy. It may sound far fetched, but it's true. The same sound can be made by two guitarists even if their techniques are not absolutely identical. Figure out what works for you, and master it.
2) Record yourself playingThis one is pretty important in my opinion. You need to hear exactly what you sound like, and once you do, you can hear which parts of what you play need to work. Maybe that bend is not on point, maybe the vibrato needs to sound more in pitch. Whatever it is, regardless of how other people say about your mistakes, you can only learn what you are doing wrong in what you play by hearing yourself playing. In today's modern age, if you're reading this article, you probably at least own a smartphone or a tab, or a computer. Use the built in recording app (assuming there is one) and record what you play. Once you are done playing, hear yourself again and again, slowly if necessary. Figure out which parts need work and take notes. Learn from what you aren't doing perfectly, and work on it.
3) Get someone with experience to teach youEvery student needs an instructor to move forward. Self taught is a real thing and it can be done today as well as it was before, but I doubt if any self taught guitarist won't admit that they would have learned what they learned faster had they had a teacher or instructor. I myself was self taught for the first two years of my four years of playing. Learned a decent amount, then I got an instructor who had an experience of 20 years, Dr. Saadi Muktafi. This man has taught me more in the last two years than I could imagine to have learned. My pace of learning took off drastically. I was doing blues, rock, metal and even progressive. It's great to have someone who knows where you should go next, instead of you having to figure it out yourself. Of course, your teacher himself should be of some decent experience and not just a show off with a lotta skills. He/she should know what they're talking about, and how to talk about it. Some people cannot just explain what they are doing on the fretboard, even though they play great, and those people sadly, don't make very good teachers.
4) Discuss with your peers, do not attack themIf you learn guitar in groups, or have classmates or colleagues who do, there must be this one guy who brags about what he learns and can play. Piece of advice: Do not be that guy, ever. This kind of attitude is demotivating towards the beginners and you never know, the beginner might one day top off the bragger. Instead of bragging, discuss it with your peers, that way, he or she can tell you something you do not, and vice versa. This is a great way to learn those tiny details that get overlooked, such as holding a pick, what kinda strings to get and who knows? Maybe this will even lead to you people having jams together, if not even start your own music group. Share your knowledge where it may be needed, and do not brag about your skills. Knowing about the guitar isn't much if you can't really put it in practice. Theory is as important as practical, the two should be going hand in hand. Not imbalanced.
5) And finally, practice, practice and practiceI cannot put in words how many times I've had to tell people this. Every time someone comes up to me and asks me about how do I do *certain technique* properly, and I'm just there with a blank expression. I do what any one does to reach their goal. PRACTICE. There is nothing more important than this. If you aren't practicing regularly, you won't only not improve, your skills just might start going down and you may start forgetting stuff. And if you are lazy, this is the sad reality. Practice makes perfect, and I can assure you every professional guitarist works their heads off ever since they wanted to do something with their music. I don't think any of them could get to having a career in music just through slacking off. That doesn't happen. I don't care what genre you are from, yes certain ones require more practice than others. Complicated progressive technical guitar solos obviously require more focus and work to perfect than a four chord strummed song. But that does not mean that you can just not practice. Stop practicing, and you'll have a problem with even holding the chords of that simple four chord song. Use a metronome, make a routine that suits you, and in my opinion, on a daily basis, set at least 30 minutes aside purely for practicing guitar. Don't look up tutorials in this time, don't look up tabs, just practice exactly whatever scales and riffs and solos you already know so you don't forget. Not all of them, just the ones you think need work. That's it. A little practice goes a long way.