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Six Tips For Guitar Beginners

Updated on July 21, 2017

Top 6 Keys to Strumming Well

A lot of us wish we could play some tunes on the guitar. But starting out, like any endeavor similar to that of starting on a sport or learning how to drive often encounter some roadblocks. We want to be as good as our favorite country singer who plays the guitar. Or maybe just want to impress our friends and go out sing songs while accompanying ourselves on the guitar. And we want to learn quickly of course. Everybody wants the quick “I promise you 30 days to be a rock star” a reality. There are some things that needs to be put in mastery first. Playing guitar is a musical skill that involves the use of both hands. However, this only explains on how to play the right hand with fluidity, particularly the strumming technique. There are other right hand techniques such as fingerpicking also known as “arpeggio” or plucking the strings. Those could be discussed in another article.

Listen to Rhythm-There may be a particular rhythm of the type of music that you like to listen to. These might be songs that you want to play on guitar passionately. Learning rhythm is a way to know how you will play this song on the guitar which involves strumming the strings. Examples of rhythm are for modern rock style of music such as alternative, grunge or indie. Another is for jazz, like bossa, swing and counter beats. Some are blues, similar to the music of BB King. When listening to your favorite music, pay attention or tap to the rhythm of the song. This will help you a lot when practicing right hand strumming.

Timing-It goes hand in hand with rhythm. Although rhythm has more emphasis on the musical style, timing is more on the evenness of the tempo or rhythm. It is accomplished by counting evenly 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3 etc. Using a metronome helps with this. Practice downstrokes while counting, then switch to upstrokes. Start on a slow tempo. Once comfortable, increase the tempo gradually and also practice alternating down and up strokes.

Posture-Good posture while strumming helps with the ease of delivering the strokes. Sit up with your back erect, relax the shoulders and rest the fleshy part below your right elbow on the edge of the guitar just quite along the bridge (see photo). Adjust your position if it doesn’t feel natural. The right hand should be relaxed from the wrist and is able to fan the strings like creating waves in a pond. Avoid striking the strings too hard.

Relaxing-It is always important to relax when you are playing. That gives you more endurance when performing longer pieces. Relax the shoulders and wrists. Just breath normally. Beginning to play the guitar will cause some excitement and some anxiety to learn quickly. This will cause tension and eventually disinterest in the instrument.

Develop a routine-Challenges during practice time may get you frustrated when trying to play your favorite first song for the first time on the guitar. If you intended to practice for thirty minutes just go through the pain to finish the whole time of practice, then lay the guitar down. Go outside, take a walk or hang out with your buddies. But don’t put your guitar in the case where you can’t see it anymore. Make sure it is always within sight because as soon as you recover, you would want to pick it up and practice again. Maybe now you kind of figure out how the technique goes. This also commits you to practice again. There’s a psychological test conducted that when people practice or learn a skill with extra 120% effort and take a good rest after that, that skill develops better when performed again.

Have a Guitar Player Buddy-Playing guitar or practicing with another guitar player friend who likes the same music as you will greatly enhance your guitar playing. This is true especially if that guy or girl is a good guitar player. If you don’t have friends who play guitar, try to make friends with the expert guitar player from school or work. Tell him or her that you like their kind of music and mention that you are learning to play the guitar. Invite them to your home to play together and maybe they’ll give you tips on improving your playing.


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