If you are reading this article, chances are that you are looking for ways to make your guitar playing progress faster and more efficient. Like many guitarists you have probably tried a variety of approaches for becoming a better guitarist such as practicing more or learning from many different sources of guitar knowledge. Unfortunately, like most guitarists you have also likely found that despite your best efforts your rate of progress has remained largely the same.
The reality is such that the world's best guitar players have various things in common in the ways they approach the process of practicing their instrument. (Watch this video on how to learn guitar to find out what these things are.) Likewise, guitarists who practice for years and never seem to get any better also have things that are in common in their guitar practice methods. These common flaws are some of the reasons why many guitar players never become the great musicians they have the potential to be.
In this article I want to tell you some of the typical reasons why so many guitarists are unable to improve their musical skills.
If you work on your guitar playing every day but are still not playing at the level that you want, consider if any of the guitar practice problems listed below apply to you. If you can relate to any of the situations described here, you have found a major clue that will help you to become a better guitar player than before.
A lot of musicians (especially those who began studying with a teacher recently) spend a lot of time asking questions similar to the following: "How long does it take to develop into a great musician?"
Even though it is normal to be preoccupied with this issue in the beginning of your guitar playing life, investing too much time into this question will only slow your rate of improvement as a musician and will make you miss the exact steps you need to take to get the result you want. This happens because the process of learning to play guitar depends not on the length of time that has transpired since you started to practice your instrument but rather on how well you used that time. The maxim: "It's not the time you spend, it's HOW you spend the time" applies to this issue perfectly.
In addition to the above realization, focusing on how long something should take to learn on guitar will (subconsciously) move your attention away from the things that matter (such as learning how to practice guitar effectively) onto things that don't matter (counting days until an arbitrary date on the calendar is reached).
Rather than falling into the trap above, focus your mind on finding ways to make your guitar practicing efforts more effective. As you do this, you will often notice that the "time" it takes for you to see results will become less than you expect.
Guitar players today have a very easy time with finding lots of guitar playing exercises, tab lessons and videos. Everything is only a click away. However, the irony of the situation is such that the number of truly great guitar players in the world (and the rate at which musicians progress) has not gone up, despite the advancements in technology. Why is this so?
The reason why the above problem exists is because this overabundance of information leads to one of two outcomes:
1. Guitarists attempt to move from one type of guitar learning resource to another very quickly, not having fully benefited from what they were working on previously and (just as bad) having no idea how the next thing is going to help improve their musicianship.
2. Guitar players become frozen by excessive number of possibilities and choices and cannot make up their mind about what to practice to reach the next level of their musical skills.
Top guitar masters know how to prevent the above issues by staying with a consistent approach to developing their musical skills and know how to filter out all but the most essential guitar practice materials that are needed to overcome their musical challenges. This is the key that helps them to avoid this common mistake.
To learn how you can do the same in your musical training and become a much better guitarist more quickly, watch this free lesson (on video) on how to learn guitar.
The first two mistakes mentioned earlier often apply to guitarists who are self-taught.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, lack of "self-sufficiency" is very widespread among musicians who take guitar lessons with a teacher. This concept means understanding the very obvious fact that only YOU are the person in charge of your own guitar playing progress (or lack of it). Although having a guitar teacher is a great way to make faster progress in your playing, it is not a replacement for the fact that "you" must take the actions needed to get to where you want to be as a musician.
Having said that, it's important to mention that "taking responsibility" in no way means that you must assume that you know more than your guitar teacher or completely dismiss new ideas or guitar learning resources. All this idea means is that you must put in the work on your own with applying whatever materials or concepts you use to improve your guitar playing. It also means for you to at least "attempt" to think through your problems before asking for help. Doing this will help you to achieve a much needed level of balance between feeling in control of your own musical progress and seeking outside help when it is truly needed to allow your guitar playing to improve more quickly.
After you discover the secrets to effective guitar practicing, it will get easier to progress more quickly as a musician. Nonetheless, it is equally important to realize that at some point there is no way to speed up the rate of your progress to a level faster than is natural.
This is exactly the same as the process a gardener goes through when placing a seed into the ground in the hopes of someday seeing it develop into a fruit tree. No matter how much the gardener attempts to speed up the process of the seed blossoming into a tree, there are some stages of growth that cannot be sped up past a certain point. This analogy applies perfectly to becoming a better guitar player.
What this means is that you must learn to be patient during the process of developing your musical skills and remember that the journey of being a musician is a never-ending one. There will always be new things to learn and new skills to develop in your guitar playing for as long as you choose to be a musician and every guitar player goes through the same process (with no exceptions). The sooner you realize this, the easier it will be to put your mind at ease about the learning process and focus on the steps you must take to reach the next level in your guitar playing.
Armed with the understandings in this article you should analyze your approach to practicing guitar to consider if any of the mistakes here apply to you. Take the needed actions to make your practicing efforts more effective and you will notice yourself starting to move a lot more quickly towards your goals as a guitarist.
To find out more about how to get greater results in your guitar playing and practicing, see this free video on how to learn guitar.
Mike Philippov is a professional guitar player, recording artist and guitar/music teacher. His guitar practice columns about learning to play guitar are read by guitarists worldwide.
His instructional music web site PracticeGuitarNow.com contains advice for guitar players on overcoming the most common problems faced when learning to play guitar.