The guitar is one of the most rewarding musical hobbies a person can pick up. The guitar is probably the most popular instrument on the face of the earth. People from every culture and every country play the guitar despite their local musical culture and national instruments.
The guitar can probably also claim the involvement in the widest range of musical styles except for perhaps percussion which is present in practically every musical style on the planet.
For these reasons, many people are trying to learn how to play it. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you too are looking for some instruction on how to get started. If you’re experienced, maybe you just need a few pointers to help you bring your skill to the next level.
Repetition Is Key
The number one thing that most players fail to do is practice adequately. Practice makes perfect and this could never be more true than with instrumentation. Musicians must practice for a lot of time to master their trade. If they want to be something extraordinary, they need to practice an extraordinary amount.
You can’t just play it until you remember it. You need to play it until you dream it. Until you can do it with your eyes closed and without thinking. Especially if you want to sing and play at the same time.
However, before you start banging away at the strings, you had better make sure your technique is correct or you’ll end up mastering some bad habits and little else. Good technique and repetition lead to muscle memory. Which is exactly what is needed.
Review your fundamentals and make sure you’ve got the basic techniques nailed down before starting your rigorous practice sessions.
- Check your chord positioning. Make sure your fingers rise off the fretboard and aren’t occluding the other strings from vibrating freely by laying your fingers down due to sloppy fingering. You don’t want to mute the strings unless they aren’t to be played.
- When playing scales, be sure that you’re playing the right notes before you commit them to mental and muscle memory.
- Also when doing scale work, make sure you’re using the best possible fingering configuration. There are many options of how-to finger scales. Make sure to include the pinky finger to train it up, it will come in handy later on.
- When fingering scales, don’t pick your fingers up too much. Try to lift them up and move them with a minimal amount of movement. That means you can go a lot faster.
- Practice strumming selected strings. Strumming E, A/C, and D/F chords can help you strum selectively.
- Ensure that your picking style is of good quality. If you’re using a flat pick, that means strumming at the right angle, up and down strokes, alternate and tremolo picking.
- If you’re using finger-style picking, be sure that you’re using the proper technique. There are a few styles depending on what you want to play. Typically the thumb will strike the lowest strings in the chord while the ring finger will pluck the high E, the middle finger will pluck the B, and the pointer finger will pluck the G. This positioning may be moved up or down the strings depending on which strings you’re playing.
Get Help From The Pros
Professional tutoring is a great idea if you’re serious about playing. Professional teachers can identify your strengths and weaknesses to help you focus practice in the most efficient way. If you can’t afford a tutor or are limited due to the pandemic, you can always learn music online with some online instructors. Professional lessons can be the difference between success and failure for some individuals.
Even excellent players are usually held back in their ability by a lack of comprehensive music education. That means that while they can play and write, they typically have fewer options and techniques at their disposal because of gaps in their self-education with the instrument.
Professional players typically have it all figured out because they were taught academically and they can give that comprehensive musical ability to their students over time, even if it’s only for a single instrument. That doesn’t mean that music school is the only way forward. It just means it’s a good idea to get a comprehensive understanding.
Define Your Needs And Design Practice
There are so many musical styles and guitar methods that it’s impossible to master them all. That’s why it’s important to define the techniques that you need for your style of music.
If you like country or singer-songwriter type music, you’d better master all the chords, their variations, and a lot of strumming techniques. You’ll want to learn to sing simultaneously, so make sure you practice those things until you can do it in your sleep.
On the other hand, if you like metal or other aggressive types of guitar music, it’s important to acquire a different set of techniques. There are many picking techniques that you need to master such as down picking, string skipping, alternate picking, tremolo picking, and sweeping. You’ll also need to focus on scale work more than chords and work on going as fast as possible while maintaining clarity.
There is no shortcut to mastery and a unique sound. However, there is a straight road to that goal. Proper technique, good playing habits, a wide range of techniques, and lots of practice are all you need to become a finger wizard in no time at all.