Stop Playing The Same Stuff! 4 Steps To Dramatically Improve Your Guitar Playing - Fast
Learn how to go about playing guitar properly and keep yourself motivated.
How many songs can you play all the way through?
I’ll give you a minute whilst you think.
OK, now you’re back with me, I have one last question…
Are you happy with your answer? Don’t worry. You’re not alone if you answered no.
With the avalanche of confusing information out there on the best way to learn to play guitar, it’s no wonder 99% of guitar players admit at some point they've hit a brick wall.
It’s tough staying motivated. And I’ll let you into a little secret:
It’s ok to admit it’s a teeny tiny bit soul destroying when you come across a video of some 5 year old whizz-kid shredding a Steve Vai solo with face-melting speed.
It’s also ok to ‘fess up to wanting to throw your guitar out the window in frustration at times! You’re only human.
Don't fear, help is at hand. Because you’re about to discover 4 life-changing strategies that'll prevent your playing from going stagnant, help you sound better, and keep your passion for playing burning bright.
Let’s get stuck in.
1. Be Self-Disciplined
Roughly 20% of people in life succeed in learning a new skill well, and the other 80% fail. The 20% that nail it aren’t more talented than the other 80%. They just worked out how to focus themselves on what they needed to do to get better at that desired skill.
So, you can step up your guitar playing skills like never before if you simply focus and show yourself a little tough love…
The secret to becoming successful at getting better at playing guitar is self-discipline.
This is how Brian Tracy, personal development guru and author of top selling books on productivity No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline and Eat That Frog!: Get More Of The Important Things Done Today describes self-discipline
“There is one special quality that you can develop that will guarantee you greater success, accomplishment and happiness in life.“
Yes. all it takes is a little self-discipline.
We’ve all heard about those people who try to learn guitar & whimp out giving up early doors. Well you don’t want to be labelled as one of them. You know the type of person; always looking for an easy ride. Scratching around for the next quick fix.
You've probably guessed what I’m going to say next… anything worth having in life requires you put in some effort. A bit of hard graft.
Giving yourself a proverbial kick up the butt now and then is vital to helping you improve on guitar. And you’ll be much happier in the process too. Bonus!
Like the time you made yourself go to the gym or finish that report for work when you really couldn't be bothered to, after you did it, you felt pleased as punch.
Make This Work For You:
It’s all about baby-steps. Being more self-disciplined isn’t about you sleeping outside on a winters night or pistol-whipping yourself into a frenzy, sergeant major stylee. That wouldn’t be much fun.
Try this little game instead. It’s a lot more fun:
1- Next time you sit down with your guitar to practice, cut the session into 20-minute chunks.
2- Now, tell yourself you will not check your phone, computer or tablet for that first 20-minute chunk.
3- Next time you practise your guitar, increase that ‘electronic interruption time-out’ period by another 20 minutes.
And I mean, totally ignore that baby.
If any ping, pop or chime sounds, blank it. You will be strong. You will resist the temptation to stop playing guitar and have a sneaky peak.
Continue this simple no-interruptions act of self-discipline until it becomes an easy habit.
To make this even easier for yourself, try turning all your devices onto silent.
You’ll find by doing this simple action exercise your self-esteem and confidence soars. With each small act of self-discipline you perform, every other act becomes a walk in the park.
The result is your guitar playing will quickly progress. And not just as a result of less interruptions, but because you’ll feel more fired-up to be playing.
2. Set Goals
You are what is known as a teleological organism. This means you are purpose driven. When you set yourself clear goals to achieve, you naturally zip into action until you achieve that goal.
It’s just the way you’re made.
Work a little each day towards your guitar playing goals. It’s about those baby steps again. If you start a practise session with no clue as to what you’re about to fill your next 45 minutes with, you’ll not achieve much.
The reason why most beginners give up guitar is because they haven’t set any playing goals. And most of the people who think they have them, have only wishy washy vague goals.
Don’t leave your goals rattling about in your head. Write them down!
Setting goals gives you long term vision and short term motivation. You will be able to measure your playing progression and add structure to your practise once you set goals.
Make This Work For You:
To reach your playing goals, step one is to first decide what they are.
Step 2 is to break down your large goals into smaller goals. By doing this you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Your goals will suddenly seem more manageable, so making you more likely to achieve them.
There are 3 main goal types:
Goals that can be achieved within a short time scale. You should use these smaller goals as stepping stones towards your bigger long term goals. For this reason, short term goals are also called enabling goals.
Example short term goal: Increase the tempo of"x" scale from 100bpm to 115bpm within the next few practice sessions
Goals that act as the half-way-house between your small short term, and bigger long term goals. Medium-term goals help you to see the wood for the trees as they help keep you focused and able to assess your progression.
Example medium-term goal: Learn a few songs that use more advanced techniques such as Travis fingerpicking or arpeggios within the next 3 months.
Goals that you will achieve in a longer time scale. These are the bad boys that will make you feel like you’ve earned the right to say with confidence and pride; “I play guitar.” Think of these as life-time goals. This will make them seem less scary and more attainable.
Example long-term goal: Play 3 songs at an open mic night at my local pub by Christmas.
3. Learn More Chords
It's easy to stick to what you know.
The key to keeping your guitar playing fresh and your skills evolving is to learn more diverse chords. Once you have learned the standard beginner major and minor chords add more into the mix.
Learn to play a minor chord in multiple voices, then add on jazzy chord extensions. There's nothing better than substituting a vanilla minor chord with a minor 7th or minor 9th for example. Or what about ditching that bog standard major triad for a haunting sounding major 7th chord?
Stuck for different chord shapes and voicings? Check out our Essential Jazz Guitar Chords Poster:
Featuring 65 of the most used common jazz (blues, funk and country too) chord shape voicings & extensions + bonus Guitar Fretboard Notes Chart
Downloadable music prints that make your time learning guitar easier...
Jazz Guitar chord shapes include:
- Major seventh (Maj 7th)
- Minor Seventh
- Diminished - Half Diminished
- Dominant seventh
- Major 9th / minor 9th / dom 9th
- Maj11th / minor 11th / dom 11th
- Maj13th / minor 13th / dom 13th
4. Play In Front Of Others
Does the idea of playing guitar in front of other people scare the life out of you?
You're not on your own if you answered yes. The thing is, plucking up the courage to play in front of somebody other than your cat will do wonders for your confidence.
I'm talking baby steps. Start by playing a little tune in front of a positive friend or family member. Likelihood is they'll give you the encouragement you need right now.
Many beginner guitar players I teach scrunch their nose up when I mention setting a goal to play in front of others. It's ok, this is down to lack of self-belief. What I then tell them is what I'm going to tell you now -confidence comes with competence.
As you playing ability improves, you'll surprise yourself that the idea of playing to other people gradually becomes less daunting.
Summing It Up
Which of these 4 iron clad steps to learn to play guitar the right way do you think you'll find the most useful to help you?
We'd all love to know!
Leave a comment below...