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 What Are Some Things I Can Do To Get Better At Guitar?

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Registration date : 2007-06-25

PostSubject: What Are Some Things I Can Do To Get Better At Guitar?   Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:58 am

I spend a good bit of time helping other players grow and learn--I really enjoy it. Here's another question I recently answered... hope it helps you.


"I've been playing not quite a year and I'd say I'm okay. I can play most songs I hear -- some of the hardest songs I've learned are Under the Bridge (RHCP), Black Dog (LZ), Surf Medley (Jr. Brown), stuff like that) -- and I write my own material. But there's a lot of guitarists better then me, and I don't seem to be improving at all. What can I do to get better? I've gotten bored with learning all these songs, and it doesn't seem to be helping me. Also, when I DO feel like learning something, it feels way too easy to the point where it's boring or way to hard to the point where it feels impossible.

What can I do? How do I get better at guitar? I'm willing to work. Any advice? How did people like Stevie Ray Vaughn get to where he was at?

P.S. DO NOT SAY "JUST PRACTICE." What do I need to practice? What will speed it up? How do I improve fastest / just improve?

(P.S.S. - I practice scales sometimes too -- I know the whole Penatonic Scale)"

Hey Dude, Brad here. What a great question! This question has been asked by countless guitarists throughout the ages. In a sense it’s the “Holy Grail” of all guitar questions—“How can I get better at guitar?” Without sitting down with you for a while—it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to improve. However, I can give you some general advice that will point you in the right direction.

I have three “A” words for you: ASSESS, ACQUIRE and APPLY.

ASSESS YOUR PLAYING: Be brutally honest with yourself. What can you do well and where do feel you nee work? What—specifically—do you want to be able to do that you cannot do at the moment? For example—what solo or song by Stevie Ray Vaughn do you want to be able to play? Write your assessment down. Putting things like this into writing will help you process things and clarify then in your mind.

ACQUIRE A GOOD TEACHER: In this world of tabs and free online lessons it can be tempting to bounce around from free lesson to free lesson and try to learn that way. I’m not saying that there isn’t any value in these free lessons, but if you really want to grow as a player—steadily and quickly—you need a teacher. I.e. you need someone who has been where you are now… who has walked the path you’re on… who has mastered the skills you want to learn and can teach and mentor you toward the achievement of your guitar playing goals. You won’t find that in a free internet lesson.

A good teacher should posses three qualities:

1) GUITAR KNOWLEDGE—This is an obvious one. You can’t teach what you don’t know. So, when looking for a teacher look for one who knows what they’re talking about. How do you determine this? FIRST: Listen to their playing. Any teacher worth their salt can either a) play something for you on the spot, or b) send you some mp3s of their playing. Listen to them. Can they do some of the things you want to be able to do? Do you listen to them and think, “Yeah! This dude can wail”? SECOND: Talk to them. Are they approachable? Can you talk comfortable with them? Are they able to speak intelligibly about the guitar and communicate in a clear way that you can understand? Or do they speak in techno garble that all sounds like gibberish? Good teachers are able to talk to you about the guitar in such a way that you can understand it and are empowered by it.

2 & 3) PASSION & ABLITY TO TEACH—Sure they need to be able to play, but even more importantly—they need to be able to teach you how to play! Do not assume that anyone who can play can also teach. This is definitely not the case. So look for someone who is knowledgeable, able to teach AND actually likes to teach. The last thing you want is a teacher who is only teaching for the money. You want a teacher who really enjoys helping his/her students learn how to play—that’s what I mean by “passion for teaching.”

APPLY YOURSELF: I.e. put your nose to the grindstone and practice what your teacher gives you in each lesson.

TWO TIPS THAT WILL MAXIMIZE YOUR PRACTICE TIME:

TIP #1: Employ The 5:30 Rule. I.e. practice at least 5 days each week for at least 30 minutes. If you can practice more than this---fantastic. But five days per week at 30 minutes per practice session get the job done. The idea here is consistency. One of the keys to improvement on the guitar is consistent practice. You are far better off to practice 30 minutes, 5 days per week than you are to practice for eight hours on one day and not play again for a week—make sense?

TIP #2: Employ The 80/20 Rule. This is sometimes called the “Pareto Principle”, named after the Italian economist, Alfredo Pareto, who discovered it. He discovered that 80% of the world’s wealth was held by 20% of the world’s population. Over the years, people around the world have discovered all kinds of applications for this principle. For example—Microsoft recently discovered that they could fix 80% of their computer crashing issues by addressing 20% (the top 20%) of the bugs in their software. Generally stated, this principle declares that 80% of the results we experience are caused by 20% of our actions. Here’s how this applies to your guitar playing. If you will dedicate the first 80% of your practice time to the development of skills you want to master---and the last 20% to fun stuff (jamming on the stuff you already know and love) you will be amazed how quickly you will improve!

So, there ya go; ASSESS---your playing--honestly and decide what your guitar playing goals are, ACQUIRE the best teacher you can find—one who understands your goals and is able to help you reach them, and APPLY yourself to consistently practicing the lessons your teacher gives you. If you do this, I am confident that in a relatively short time you will see improvements in your playing that will bring a very large grin to you face!

FINAL WORD: The internet is your friend! Search online for guitar teachers in your area. Be specific with your searches. Don’t just type in “guitar teacher in MY TOWN.” Type, “rock guitar teacher” or “blues guitar teacher”. You want someone who specializes in your area of interest. If you can’t find someone in your town, I would be happy to help you. Feel free stop by my site at www.guitarjams.net .

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80s metal blessings,
pb
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