10 Steps to Accelerated Guitar Learning
I actually wrote this to help me. I hope it helps you!
1. Planning Works!
Practicing guitar is much more enjoyable and efficient if you know what it is you want to achieve. I spent years just ‘mucking around’ on the guitar when I could have been improving. I suggest writing down weekly, monthly and yearly practice goals to give your practise direction. For example, If you know what it is you need to practise this week so that you are able to play a particular piece of music in a month or 2 months…then you have much more chance of reaching your goal. It’s virtually impossible to hit a target if you don’t know where the target is. Of course, it’s important to pick up the guitar now and then and play for fun too. But when it comes to practice, planning is the key.
2. Focus Baby, Focus!
Memorise the 3 S’s
Take what it is you’re doing and break it down into it’s tiniest, most simple steps.
It’s better to do 2 minutes of focused practise on one thing than 30 minutes of unfocused practise on several things. Pick one thing you want to improve and do that and that only…for a time. Focused practise is the quickest way to improve. If you have 2 or 3 things you want to focus on for a week or a month you can divide your time up. For example, if you only have 5 minutes per day to practise and you’re a complete beginner, you could set your stop watch and spend 2.5 minutes on the left hand part of your latest song and then 2.5 minutes on the right hand part. More advanced players could spend 2.5 minutes on one difficult transition and 2.5 mins on one bar you’re having trouble with. Improvement happens in tiny steps.
3. Practising vs “Playing”
I was the worst in the world at this (ok…truth time…I still am). Instead of actually practising the thing that needs to improve for the song to sound great, we just play it through from start to finish (often including the same mistakes each time). It will improve slightly…because we’re are actually playing it over…but only marginally and very slowly. But for super fast results, go straight to the bit that needs the most help. Very often you’ll find it is a simple fingering issue, or your fingers just need to get used to that particular movement. The beauty of this is that each time you work on a “micro event” it becomes a part of your skill set. The next time the same thing shows up in another piece of music in the future, you will be able to do it automatically without even thinking.
4. Regular Steady Practice vs Binge Practice
While there’s nothing wrong with a 7 hour practice binge/bender, short sessions of highly focused, regular practice sessions are the best way to improve quickly. If you want to improve even faster, practising at the same time each day is even more effective. This has the effect of becoming a rhythm in your life where your whole physiology, psychology and neurology is programmed to learn quickly and easily because your whole being is geared up, at that particular to time to learn. This is a magic secret that will put your learning light years ahead.
5. Compare Yourself Only with Yourself
While listening to the world’s best guitarists can be inspiring, comparing ourselves to them is demoralising. We tend to see the giant gap between us and them and it disheartens us. Instead of comparing ourselves with Eric Clapton after his first lesson, we compare ourselves with him at the height of his career. This is a trick our mind plays on us to get us to stop doing stuff we find hard. Outwit your mind by saying “I’m going to compare my guitar playing today with my guitar playing when I started…not with people who’ve been playing for 30 years…Amen”. Learning music is a psychological game.
6. Celebrate Your Victories! …and track your progress.
When something in your playing improves it’s very important to acknowledge it and celebrate. So I suggest having a practice notebook where each day you keep track of what you practised, what has improved, areas that need more focus and what you will practise next. It’s very rewarding to look back after a few months or years and see how far you’ve come. If you haven’t improved as much as you would have liked it can also spur you on to work harder next time. But don’t forget to celebrate your victories, no matter how small they seem because every tiny step counts.
7. Get a Teacher (try my free lesson)
A great teacher can make all the difference, but there are so many bad ones out there (the stories I could tell!). Many music teachers don’t seem remember what it is like to be a beginner. Or if they do, it came easily to them and they can’t relate to where you’re at. Not so for me. It was a struggle for me from the beginning. I had to work hard. I know where you’re at because I was there too. That’s why I’ve developed this method which has you playing great sounding music from the beginning. I also understand the psychology involved in learning an instrument and I can coach you through the tough times.
8. Get Some Friends
Practising guitar can be a lonely game. Reaching out and talking to other beginners can be a massive help. Realising that you’re not alone and that others are going through the same trials and tribulations can be a great comfort and support. Join the Easiest Guitar community here.
9. Don’t Start with Chords
Despite what you’ve been told…they’re not the easiest OR the best sounding thing to start with.
I know this goes against 3 million years of collective wisdom on guitar teaching but after more than 15 years of teaching absolute beginners, I am convinced! When we first pick up the guitar, we want to play something that sounds like real music. Have you ever tried to play guitar and started with the chords? Have you heard someone who has just started guitar playing chords? It’s not the easiest place to begin and it can take a while before it doesn’t sound like a cat dying. I teach a revolutionary method which will have you playing GREAT SOUNDING MUSIC from your first lessons with one or two fingers. Save the fun (and pain) of chords till later.
10. Don’t Quit
Many people who quit guitar after several lessons do so because they hit a wall (usually a wall of “chord learning pain”). The trick is, if you stick at it long enough to break through that initial wall, a whole world of music opens up before you. It also gives you immense confidence that you can break through more musical walls in the future. Learning an instrument is a psychological game. I don’t really know why this is so, but your clever brain will try to outwit you and make you quit. I know mine has, innumerable times. Everytime it tries, just say “thank you for sharing” and get back to it!
You can do this!