So what does it take to become a great guitarist, or a great musician, or a great anything for that matter? Well in the words of Chris ‘Izzy’ Cole from the movie Rockstar, it’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough and being willing to work hard enough. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well it’s not. The journey of mastering the guitar is both a joyous and arduous one. And in today’s article we bring you Guitar Girl Magazine’s top 10 guitar practice tips to help you make the most out of your time spent with the instrument.
Setting out to learn the guitar without a specific goal in mind is like starting to dig a tunnel not knowing where you want it to end up. It doesn’t matter if your goals as a guitarist are to be able to shred like Yngwie Malmsteen or just be able to play along to some of your favorite tunes, the most important thing is that you have a clear and concise idea of what they are. Be ambitious and be honest with yourself. There isn’t a limit to how high you can reach, provided that you can put the required work in.
PLAN YOUR PRACTICE
It’s great to dream big and set ambitious goals for yourself, but if you don’t have a definitive plan on how you’re going to reach these goals they can be all for naught. For example, if your goal as a guitarist is to become a virtuoso player, you need to have a clear outline of the various areas of guitar playing that you’ll need to master and a definitive plan on when and how you’re going to master them. Without this the effort that you put in to practicing the instrument can end up being a tragic waste.
Something that I see with a lot of beginner guitar players is that they start off with a ton of enthusiasm, putting in five or more hours into practice each day, but slowly start getting bored with the instrument or confused on which direction their playing is heading. And this exactly why organizing your practice is important. For example, you can organize your days practice into doing warm-ups, learning technique, finger exercises and learning new songs and licks. And you can keep switching things up as you go. This way your time with the instrument will always feel like a fresh challenge.
Every successful person knows the incredible and almost magical power of visualization. You see, the crazy thing about the human mind is that sometimes we can have trouble separating fact from imagination. But the cool thing is that we can use this to our advantage. So before you sit down to practice a specific technique or learn a song, first visualize yourself playing it perfectly. Hear yourself hitting every note with clarity and passion. Imagine how this would feel. Internalize this image before starting your practice and you’ll be able to fall back onto this vision whenever the going feels a little too tough.
Practicing guitar is not a multitask-able process. So when you sit down to practice the instrument, make sure that it has your complete and undivided focus. Switch off your phone, log off Facebook and lock your door. One hour of ultra-focused practice is always better than a few hours of distracted playing.
AIM FOR PERFECTION
There’s a common misconception that practice makes perfect. But here’s the thing, the only thing that practice does is make permanent. The only thing that makes perfect is perfect practice. For example, if you keep practicing your sweep picking with the wrong technique, the only thing you’ll be doing is internalizing this wrong technique. And when it comes to guitar unlearning can sometimes be harder than learning. So always aim for perfection and settle for nothing less. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t become a great guitarist overnight. While it’s great to push yourself and have high expectations of yourself, it’s also important to understand that your mastery of the instrument will take time. A lot of it. Trying to speed up your learning process in an impractical way will only result in poorly learned techniques and demotivation.
Malcom Gladwell once wrote that it takes an average of 10,000 hours to become a master at a specific task. So if you want to master the guitar in five years, you need to be willing to put in 5 hours of practice, each day, every day for the next five years.
When it comes to practicing guitar, consistency is far more important than anything else. For instance, practicing the guitar an hour each day for a week is far more productive than having one five hour practice sessions a week.
At the end of the day, whatever level of mastery you reach with your instrument will be a direct reflection of the amount of work you’re willing to put into it and the amount of time you’re willing to sacrifice for it. And this can often staying home and clocking in your hours while your friends are out partying and having a great time. But stick it through long enough and you’ll find that your sacrifice was more than worth it.