Staying Motivated While Learning To Play Guitar

Staying Motivated While Learning To Play Guitar

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  1. Keeping focused enough to stay motivated while learning to play guitar can be a real challenge.  It is hard to stay that focused when the odds seem so deep against you.  People around you are already starting to learn some lead scales while you still struggle with three chords.  I totally understand.  I spent fifteen years playing the same Pentatonic Blues scale.  I got quite good at it, but I always wanted more.

    For Your Own Practice Time

    Building your own practice time habits is important to maintaining a personal practice regimen.  Do not pick up a magazine and try to follow someone else’s practice regimen.  Set your own goals and build your regimen in small increments.  Theory is important, but not essential when beginning.  Building finger strength and dexterity and cooperation between your hands is a must.  Knowing the notes on your fret board will help you immensely.  Here are some things to consider while building your practice regimen:

    • Begin and stay at a slow pace.  Do not try to over extend your capabilities.
    • Finish learning each song you start to learn.  You should not start one and drop it just because you found something else that sounds cool.  Experimentation is part of the learning process here, but it can derail you completely if you can not push yourself to finish what you start.  I recommend recording your practice.
    • Repetition is good, but also incorporate some variety.
    • While some have been quoted as an eight to ten hour practice is tantamount to making you the next guitar god featured in a magazine, most teachers and true players will tell do not more than two hours.  Anything more is a waste of time and is looking for tendonitis.  Partake in regular quality practice.
    • I feel strongly about singing along with your guitar.  The versatility, especially if you progress to songwriting, comes natural at that point.
    • Make sure to set goals in what you want to accomplish in a practice setting.  I would not sit and try to learn the entire Hotel California lead in one sitting.  Learn a new chord or voicing first, then play some scales, then spend a little time making chord transitions. Then pick apart a couple bars of Joe Walsh, or Joe Satriani for that matter.  Do not bite off too much and suffer a burn out before you really get started.  Another teacher says practice hand modelling!  Make your hand learn the position.  Muscle memory is just as important as learning each and every note on that fret board.
    • Which reminds me; study new tunings.  Learn the interaction between different scales over top of a series of chords.
    • Above all, learn to accept that you are not going to be able to do it right the first time every time.  Occasionally, you will hit a streak of finding everything you look for, but most of the time, accept that you are not perfect and there is no perfect way to learn guitar in three hours.
    • Find rewards and ways to spice up practice and make it something that you really desire to do.  Try to make it one of those addicting things, like making more friends than anyone else on a social site, or winning a video game.  It should be the highlight of your day to learn something new on your guitar.
    • Find others to play with.  It is often said that the best way to make you a better player is to teach someone else.  I have found this to be true.  You will constantly be pushing the bar to be a better teacher, so that your student has someone to look up to.  But do not stop there.  Play with someone from a different style than you.  Play country?  Hang around a flamenco guitarist for a while.  Play blues?  Sit in with a metal band once or twice.  They will teach you some of their tricks and you can teach them yours.  Often times the better you are, equates to how many tricks you have in your note book.
    • Learn to read music.  One of the things that I have started a thousand times and have kicked myself time and time again for not learning was reading sheet music.  Learning to count rhythm is important but it is also very helpful to say the note or sing the note you are playing.  The name of the note.  This technique will ingrain you with note recognition, which is essential to playing in any kind of improvisational setting.

    You will soon find that you have a large bag of tricks yourself.

    Only have thirty minutes to practice?  Do not over do it.  Work on one or two important things per day rather than try to fit in four or five things. 

    Do not practice a shoddy technique, as doing something wrong will not make you better. 

    Do not practice half heartedly.  If you don’t feel like playing, then don’t play, but you should not give up either.  Instead, focus on one technique until it is mastered.  Do it right and learn it forward and backward, literally.  But also, do not bore yourself of the learning.

    Make A Recording

    Record and listen to what you do.  The fingering of a good rhythm guitar is completely different than that of a shredding lead guitar.  Likewise, a good blues or jazz ax is going to play completely different than an acoustic guitar.  Play through an amp one practice, then play an acoustic for the next and listen to the recordings.  Are you adjusting your style to the instrument?  Does that killer E minor arpeggio sound as good through a double rectified stack as it does on your dreadnought?  No?  Looks like you have another area you can practice.

    I cannot stress recording yourself enough.  You can be so much more decisive on how you present your style of playing if you are better informed of what you sound like.  Most people get into the sound and like what they do while behind the instrument, but on hearing a recording and all of the mistakes they did not hear while playing it, very nearly give up.  Many have.  It is important for you to understand what you actually sound like.

    True, also is the fact that recording a certain passage and making sure it is exact in all of it’s nuances, can be a huge aid in helping you to achieve that illusive style that you have been longing to find.  This also helps you to play the same exact fingering each time you play it.

    So, in a nutshell we have covered the vital aspects of becoming a good guitar player, instead of being stuck with playing E Blues Pentatonics the rest of your career.  Incorporating these techniques and high points of a good practice regimen, will lead to a more fulfilling guitar study time and make you a better musician.

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