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Play Guitar Better - 5 Tips
If you to play the guitar, but you're not progressing as well as you’d like, chances are you might be feeling a bit discouraged. Don't even think about giving up though, because you can learn to play guitar better by making some simple changes in the way you’re practising and approaching the learning process. Let's have a look at a few of these here.
1. Use a metronome
If you don't already practice regularly with a metronome, you should start doing so right away. A metronome will help you to play perfectly in time, and bring great precision to your guitar technique. It's easy to think that you're playing in time when you're actually all over the place, and many people tend to slow down for the difficult or quiet parts in the music they're playing (and vice versa), without ever realising they're doing it. You may be certain that you don't do this, but it's still worth giving a metronome try, and you may be surprised at just how much your playing improves over the coming weeks and months.
Metronomes are readily available online and from music supply stores, and you have a choice of mechanical and electronic versions, as well as software metronomes that can be used on your computer, iPod or other mobile device. If you have an electronic guitar tuner, you may find it has a metronome feature as well, as many do.
2. Practice regularly
This second point isn't going to apply to everybody reading this, but if you're the ‘weekend warrior’ type who only plays the guitar when you have lots of free time, or when inspiration strikes, it's not surprising that you're not progressing very well. Developing great guitar skills means practising every day (or almost every day), whether you feel like it or not.
Now, there will be occasions where some emergency arises and other events have to take priority, and there will also be times when your hands are feeling sore or very tired, and you simply have to take a rest. This is fine if it's only happening occasionally, but if you're having more off days than practice days, you have a problem. Even 10 or 15 minutes a day is better than having a huge session once a week, so if you're serious about progressing, promise yourself that you’ll be as consistent as possible with your practice regime. Just find a routine that works for you, and commit yourself to sticking to it, even if you don't feel like it. You’ll normally find any way that after you sit down and start to play, you’ll begin to get into it and the resistance will melt away.
3. Practice mindfully
Consistent practice is vital, but it's not going to do much good if you're just practising the same mistakes and bad habits over and over again. For this reason, it's also very important to be mindful of your playing. Really listen to yourself as you play, and focus on what you're doing rather than letting your mind wander. This can be quite challenging sometimes, but it's important to stay focused if you want to maximise your progress. Being aware of what you're doing at all times can also help you to build good habits and avoid falling into bad ones.
3. Develop patience
Impatience is another roadblock that trips up many guitarists and other musicians. It's very easy to feel frustrated when your fingers just won't do what you want, and you feel like your progress has ground to a halt. Learning any new skill is going to be frustrating in the early days, and the guitar is no exception to this. Remember that your learning a very complex skill, and despite what all of those ‘learn guitar in a weekend’ scam artists would have you believe, the journey to mastery is a long one. This is true for everybody; every guitarist you admire has been through the same process and felt the same doubts and frustrations that you're feeling right now. They only got where they are because they developed the patience and tenacity to stick with it.
It helps a lot however, if you can find a way to enjoy your current ability level, and appreciate the progress you've made so far. Taking an excessively goal-orientated approach, and only feeling like you're making progress when you make some major leap forward, is a recipe for failure in the long run. Given that mastering the guitar takes a lot of time, and most people will not commit themselves to a process if it's not going to be enjoyable along the way, it's very important to appreciate where you are, and make the most of your practice sessions right now. Give yourself credit for what you've achieved, and don't beat yourself up because of all the things you can't yet do.
5. Follow a proper lesson plan
Lastly, how are you actually going about learning to play? Are you following a structured plan of guitar lessons? Or are you just jumping around from one thing to the next, maybe learning a few chords here, a riff or two there? If it's the latter, progress is going to be limited, as this is an ineffective and inefficient way to learn. To make real progress, it is necessary to establish solid foundation of technical and musical skills at the outset, on which you can build later on. And the best way to do this is to work with a structured plan of guitar lessons that have been created with all the necessary elements in the right order to help you build up your skills.
A good private teacher will be able to put together such a plan for you, but if private lessons are not feasible, there are lots of very good guitar books, DVDs and online lesson courses that you can work with at home. Whichever option you go for, it's important to stick with the plan right through to the end if you want to cover all the necessary ground.
Hopefully these tips will help you to overcome your sense of stagnation with your guitar playing and start seeing some visible progress again. Just remember to keep going and don't be tempted to give up, and you're sure to continue to improve, even if those improvements aren't always obvious on a day-to-day basis.
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