Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the amount of things to practice? Does it sometimes seem to you that there are too many things for you to learn? If you want to develop a great skill, it's easy to get caught in a trap of trying to learn too many things at a time. As a result, you don't truly master any of them and end up frustrated. In this article I'll give you practical tips on how you can get any ability you want - no matter if it's connected with technique, theory, improvisation, etc.
The more skills you want to posses - the more strategic you have to be about the process of your guitar development. To create an approach that will work for you, become aware of what specific skills you want to have as a guitar player. If you're not really sure, think about what genre of music you're after. Come up with a list of skills that would be the most useful for playing music you want to play. Include guitar techniques, theoretical and improvisational skills, etc.
For example, if you want to be a great heavy metal lead guitarist, you'll need an arsenal of techniques like alternate picking, legato, sweep picking, bending and vibrato, etc. The other needed part would be improvisation (containing being able to play freely using modal scales in any key, knowing the theory behind the scales and how they're related to chords, knowledge of notes on fretboard, etc.). Another important part would be having good aural skills, which is commonly neglected area of musicianship among guitarists.
However, some techniques and skills won't be necessary for you to have. One of these you don't necessarily need as a heavy metal lead guitarist is for example finger picking. Of course, it can add to your soloing but it's not the main focus if you're after soloing with distortion.
At the same time - if you're into pop music, you won't probably have to play fast sweep picking arpeggios. So the list of skills to learn is determined by what you want to be doing. To make this list more accurate, ask a player who's more experienced than you or your guitar teacher, if you have one. Feedback from the other person can be very valuable because he sees your list from a perspective and can spot weak points and suggest improvements.
Find sources of information on every area you've got listed (like instructional DVDs, books, on-line lessons, teachers). Determine what skills are the most crucial for you at the moment and start with developing the one you feel the most excited about. This feeling would give you motivation to work on the other skills from your list. One of the most important things here is to take one step at a time. Don't try to do too much at once. Make sure you get really good at what you're working on before moving to the next step. Otherwise, you're likely to end up with average and limited skills.
It's like walking from point A to point B. You have to take one step after the other to reach your destination. You can't just skip any of the steps - you need to take one at a time. And this is the message I want to convey through the article - be patient about yourself, find out to the best of your abilities what the shortest route to achieving your goals is and begin a journey.
When you walk around a new area, there are always new things to see. Sometimes even in a place you know you find a new street you didn't know existed. While walking around you might find yourself lost in the moment to the point where you no longer remember where you're going to. You may change your goals, priorities, genres you prefer but in the end - it's all about walking. It's all about the process, your excitement about your passion for music and guitar.
Find out what excites you and work on the method of learning and practicing that will take you there. But always keep things as exciting as possible. When you find yourself in a rut - change something, tweak your approach. If you're no longer passionate about a thing you used to be excited about, don't hold on to it and don't beat yourself up. If you follow your excitement, you can't be wrong and your guitar journey will be full of great and fulfilling events. So find out what you're passionate about, make a list and begin your journey. Take one step towards where you want to be right now, today.
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About The Author:
Neal Wakefield - guitarist, songwriter and teacher. Currently he's working on his first solo album that will be released in 2013. The music will be a blend of progressive metal complexity, melodic leads and modern and fresh-sounding electronics.