There are three basic types of players in the guitar universe. First you have the casual players who just want to be able to jam along to a few of their favorite songs with their friends. Then you have the moderately serious players who actually get pretty good at the instrument, join a band and sometimes even make a career out of this. And then you have the guitar fanatics. The Malmsteens, the Hendrixs and the Steve Vais. And for them playing guitar is not just a hobby or a career. It is a religion. And like Moses and his Ten Commandments for the Israelites, there are Ten Commandments that we at Guitar Girl think that every aspiring guitarist should follow.
Thou shall have dreams and goals
The first and arguable most important step of playing guitar is knowing what you want to achieve with the instrument. You see, guitar gods don’t just pop up out of the woodwork. They are the result of crystal clear dreams and goals and a manic obsession with achieving them.
Thou shall visualize
Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool that all successful people know how to use. And great guitarists are no exception. Before you sit down to practice a song, a lick or a technique, first visualize yourself playing it perfectly. Hear yourself playing it perfectly. And crystallize this vision in your mind. This is the picture that you will return to when you feel like things are just too hard for you to continue.
Thou shall be organized
Having a big dream is one thing, but if you aren’t able to break down your dream into smaller achievable goals you’ll most likely fall short of ever realizing it. For example, by simply breaking down and organizing your guitar practice into different knowledge areas like technique, theory, exercises and licks you will find that you’re able to be more efficient in your practice and stave off the boredom that can set in after a while of repetitive practice.
Thou shall be focused
In the words of the great Steve Vai, the level of achievement that you will attain in anything is always a direct reflection of how well you were able to focus on it. In fact, one hour of focused practice is sometimes far more effective than ten hours of unfocussed practice. So when you play the guitar, make sure that that’s the only thing you’re doing. Switch off your phone, stow away your laptop and lock your door and get obsessed with the instrument when you’re with it.
Thou shall be consistent
When it comes to mastering an instrument, hard work is important. But what’s more important is consistent hard work. For example, practicing an hour each day for seven days is far more effective than practicing seven hours one day a week.
Thou shall be persistent
Rome wasn’t built in a day and great guitarists aren’t made in months. In fact, according to Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers: The Story of Success, on average it takes a human being 10,000 hours of practice to master any given task. So if at 18 you decide to become a great guitarist by the time you turn 23, according to Gladwell you need to spend a minimum of 5 hours every day, each day to achieve your goal.
Thou shall be patient
The only thing harder than learning, when it comes to music, is unlearning. Which is why patience is one of the most important characteristics of a great guitarist. It’s far better to spend three months learning perfect technique than to suffer for years trying to unlearn bad technique.
Thou shall be disciplined
There are no short cuts on the road to success. If you want to be great you have to pay the price. And this sometimes means staying at home, practicing your instrument and clocking in the hours while your friends are out partying and having a blast.
Thou shall have fun
Mastering the instrument is hard work. But if you truly love what you do, none of this hard work will ever feel like a burden. In fact, every minute that you sweat and bleed with the instrument will be joyous.
Thou shall read Guitar Girl Magazine
Last but not least, make sure that you check out Guitar Girl Magazine at least once a week.
~ Lasith Fernando