12 November 2008

Discover the Guitar Music You Want to Play

Here's an exercise that helps you to identify the kind of guitar music you want to learn and play. This exercise lets you tune in to your favourite guitar elements and blend them into your own guitar style.

Use the exercise to discover what is important to you as a guitar player. You can identify the styles, sounds and kinds of playing that you are passionate about. The results will help you to focus on what you need in your guitar learning journey. This focus helps you make effective use of your practice time.

The exercise involves three steps.

1. List five inspirational moments.

Grab a pen and paper and list five guitar moments that really made, or make, you want to play guitar. It might be a song you heard, an album, or a live performance. Whatever the format it should be something that really grabbed you and make you feel that you wanted to pick up a guitar and play like that.

You might have more than five of these moments, but try to limit yourself to the five most important.

2. Detail your inspirations.

Write a few sentences to describe the details of each inspirational moment in your list. What is it about that moment that really grabs your attention? Write full sentences, or use a bullet list if you are more comfortable with that.

Here are some questions to help you start.

  • Is it acoustic or electric guitar?
  • What style of music is played?
  • Is the guitar part more rhythmic or a lead or solo?
  • Is the guitar played solo or is it part of a group of musicians?
  • What is the rhythm like, slow, fast, funky, jazzy, ...?
  • What kind of chords are played? What is the chord progression?
  • What about the playing techniques used - fingers, pick, slide, slapping...?

3. Pick the most important playing elements.

In the final step look for common elements in your inspirations. You might have chosen widely different musical styles, but it is likely that there are some similarities in all the moments that please you most. Maybe it's the kind of guitar sound, maybe they all involve playing beautiful melodic lines, or groovy rhythms, or ...

Try to choose the one inspirations that passions you the most right now. If you could play just one of those pieces, which one would you like it to be? This one should probably be your main style to focus on learning.

There you have a simple exercise you can use to help you figure out what you really want to play on the guitar. There are just three steps:

  1. List inspirational guitar moments that gave you the desire to learn guitar.
  2. Describe the details of each moment, you might need to do a little research to answer more technical questions.
  3. Pick your favourite moment and the common elements that attract you to all of them.

You can do this exercise in your guitar journal to create a blueprint of the guitar style you'd like to learn or create. Then it's up to you to find out the skills you need to learn to get there.

If you are serious about realising your guitar dreams and finding your style then grab a pen and paper now and write your influences down. Maybe you'd like to share them in a comment, I'd love to hear about your inspiring guitar moments. I'll be following up in a day or so to share my own inspirational moments with you.

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