Every beginner guitarist dreams of the day they can finally play like the pros. But, between where you are now (newbie) in your guitar learning process and where you want to be – are hours of practice.
You already know, to become better at playing the guitar, you need to practice. You have to learn new skill sets and master new techniques continually.
There’s a problem with that advice though. You might be practicing the wrong things. And, when you devote hours learning the wrong skills, you get better in the wrong things. Or see only marginal improvements in the areas that matter at best.
So, how do you make the practice sessions count? How do you learn guitar efficiently?
The tips you are about to learn will help you get into the right mindset you need before learning to play guitar.
1. Why do You Want to Play the guitar and not any other Instrument?
Sure. This is not a philosophical piece; after all, you just want to learn how to play guitar. The truth, however, is that you need to find, at least, one reason why you want to learn guitar.
Do you want to learn guitar because you love the sense of freedom you feel when you hold a guitar?
Do the strings call out to something in you no other instrument has been able to do?
You may ask, ‘but why do I need a reason to learn guitar?’
You see, just like with learning any new skill, it will get tough, especially, in the beginning. So, it would help if you had something (anything) to keep you going when it gets tough.
2. Practice is OK. Purposeful Practice is Better
Practice. Practice. Practice. You need to practice to get better at playing guitar. Period. However, it’s not just practicing for the sake of it.
Your practice should have a purpose. Every time you pick your guitar to practice, there should be a laser-focused intention to get better at a specific skill or technique.
A 5-minutes session to get better at say, keeping a steady tempo, is more effective than playing 30-minutes without any objective.
Be intentional when you practice. Pick one area you want to improve on and practice.
3. Have a Routine
Routine sounds so dull. But, it is the only way your body and brain learn new things.
We know from research that when we are exposed to a new stimulus (in our case, learning to play guitar) our brain cells create fresh pathways. However, when exposed to the same stimulus for a long time, the pathways solidify and become permanent.
So, what has this got to with having routines?
When you stick to a routine and practice intentional learning, you are recreating the same stimulus over and over again. Your brain fires a pathway that tells it, ‘OK, this is how to twist your fingers when playing this sound.’
As you continue practicing the same routine, the pathway gradually solidifies. Until one day, you realize you can perform that specific technique without thinking.
4. Focus on the Basics
When you first started learning to play guitar, the basics may not look sexy. You want to move to play complex sounds and music quickly.
But, the fundamentals are the foundation on which any other technique you go on to learn in the future is built.
Think of the basics as the rules that guide playing beautiful music. When you master the fundamentals, it becomes easier to break them – not from ignorance but mindfully to stamp your signature on a piece.
5. Be Patient
It’s pretty easy to give up when you do not see improvements. Or to feel frustrated when you don’t seem to get a particular note right.
But when you understand that every second you practice. That any failure you pass through all contribute to help you master the guitar.
Remember, what we talked about on routine? Even when you don’t see any noticeable changes in your skillsets – the efforts you put in matters.
To become proficient in guitar, you must be patient with yourself. Trust the process and keep practicing intentionally.
6. Start Slow, Increase the Tempo Later
You cannot walk until you learn how to stand. You cannot run until you learn how to walk. The same principles apply to learn to play guitar.
While you want to play along with your favorite songs, effortlessly, it cannot happen overnight.
First, learn how to play a song properly slowly. This way, you train the muscle memory. Then, as your fingers master the rhythm, you can slowly begin to increase the tempo.
When you start slow, you give the muscle memory enough time to learn the new technique.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Push yourself to try new things. Expand your horizon with different songs and genres. But, of course, these should come after you have mastered the fundamentals.
Once you are confident in your ability, it’s time to spread your wings and fly.
So, there you have it. These 7 tips will help you develop the right mindset you need to efficiently learn how to play guitar.