Do you ever feel stuck in a rut in your guitar playing? That your progress is not as it should be in view of the amount of hours you’re putting in?
If you implement these simple tips, you will not only start making progress much faster, but you’ll enjoy the process more.
1. Record yourself
Record yourself on video and when you watch it, look out for the things that can be improved.
Are you playing on time? Are the strings you’re not playing buzzing? Do you look tense and struggling while playing? Which specific part of the song are you struggling with most? Is your bending or vibrato sounding out of tune?
Answer these questions and work on specific problems you can identify one at a time.
If there are strings buzzing, you need to learn how to mute them.
You may have to release unnecessary tension. Practice doing so consciously on songs you don’t struggle with. Make sure all your muscles are relaxed and that the only tension you’re using is that required to get the right sound out of your guitar.
Or else, there may be particular technique that you need to improve before you can really play that song.
After you work on what needs to be worked on, record the song again and see the difference.
Keep all the recordings in a file so that later on you can track your progress in a more measurable way.
2. Set short and long term goals
Imagine a football match where on one side, the goal post is invisible. The players in the team that needs to score to that side, may have a clue where the goal post should be but still, they have a terrible disadvantage.
I’ve spent more than 10 years learning guitar this way, and yes, sometimes I did score goals. I did learn a lot of things during those years. But in hindsight I know that had I set goals earlier, I would have scored a lot more, a lot sooner.
Setting goals changes everything. If you haven’t yet set any musical goals and a plan how to achieve them and start doing it now, your guitar playing will skyrocket in a short period time.
3. Analyze your strengths and relevant weaknesses
Your strengths are what makes you shine. Whether it’s learning songs quickly, songwriting, technique or musical knowledge, your strengths are what you can do best.
Many guitar players, focus most of their time on developing their strengths while some focus more on their weaknesses.
What is the right balance?
The right balance is to focus on your strengths, and only those particular weaknesses that are holding you back from your goals.
If your main goal is to become a songwriter, spending hours practicing fast chromatic exercises with a metronome, isn’t going to get you an inch closer to writing better songs.
If, on the other hand, you want to play in a band, know some cool techniques, as well as how to write songs – but have a problem playing in time, then there is a particular weakness you need to address immediately.
4. Focus your practice
All practice time is not equal. 15 minutes of focused practice, during which you dedicate all concentration, will achieve a lot more than an hour wandering aimlessly on your guitar, or searching for random pieces of instructional material on the Internet.
You can, right now, get more out of practicing without spending a single minute more on your instrument if you discipline yourself and catch yourself as soon as you start drifting away.
This might not be easy for some. I still struggle with it at times so don’t be hard on yourselves. It’s easy for our mind to start drifting into something else, but the more you train yourself to focus, the easier it will become – especially when you start seeing the results.
5. Remember your dreams.
Practicing is king, but motivation is the queen of the house.
Dreaming without having a plan will get you nowhere, but you shouldn’t go overboard, get lost in the plan and forget the dream.
You started playing guitar for a reason, and that reason, whatever it is, is what keeps you practicing. Keep your dream alive, and it will always be there to pump you up every time you grab your guitar and play.
With persistent, goal oriented and focused practice, your dream will eventually come true.
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