11 August 2008

7 Things You Should Know Before You Learn Guitar

Do you want to play guitar? Many want to, but not all succeed. Follow the 7 tips below and you'll increase your chances of guitar learning success.

You Need Focus

You probably want to learn guitar because you like guitar music. There are many different styles, though, and if you set out to play all of them you are likely to be overwhelmed.

Think about some of your favorite guitarists. You will probably notice that they nearly all play predominantly in just one style. Sure, there is some overlap, but most players are specialized in just one.

One reason you need focus is that nothing is learnt forever on the guitar. You must spend some time to maintain the skills you've already acquired. And the more you learn, the more you have to maintain.

It's Easier to Learn From a Person than a Book

You can learn guitar from a book, but it is far easier to learn if you have a real person to show you how to play. So find yourself a teacher or a guitar playing friend so you can copy their moves. If you don't have a teacher or guitar player near your home then opt for video lessons, they are easier to copy from than a book.

Favor Practice Over Theory

Playing guitar is a practical activity; spend your guitar time on practice and only a little on theory. I'm not saying theory isn't valuable, but it doesn't help you if you can't play it. Learn just enough theory to support what you can play.

Make It Easy to Start Practice

Any expert will tell you, little and often is the way to practice guitar. Make it easy to start to ensure you practice often. Leave your guitar out in a prominent place and make sure the other things you need - exercises or songs, tuner, metronome - are close at hand, too.

Aim to make it easier to pick up your guitar and practice than it is to switch on the TV. So, hide that remote control away in the spare room, not your guitar.

Be Patient

New guitar skills can take a frustratingly long time to learn, and it will take you years to get to the level of the players who inspire you.

This story about Arthur Rubenstein, the famous concert pianist, illustrates this point. A woman comes up to Rubenstein after a particularly stirring performance, and exclaims, "That was wonderful! I’d give my life to be able to play like that." And he looks her in the eye and simply answers, "I did."

So keep playing, and remember that patience will make you better if you...

Practice, practice, practice

I've said it before, playing guitar is a practical activity. There are only three ways to get better at it, practice, practice, and practice. Make sure you find a way to enjoy your guitar practice, you're going to do a lot of it...


Above all, enjoy your guitar whatever stage of learning you're at. Don't wait until you're a great guitarist to enjoy yourself, the best guitarists know there is always someone out there with faster fingers than them. They know that playing guitar is not a competition sport, there is room for everyone to have fun.

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