If you’re just getting started with the guitar, it’s likely that you’re looking for ways to improve quickly. Although nothing really beats practice, there are ways to progress at the guitar more quickly. None of the tips I’m giving here are too revolutionary, but perhaps you’ll pick up and idea or two that will help.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
Sorry to open with this guitar tip, but it’s the biggest tip you need if you’re hoping to improve your guitar playing quickly. The more you practice, the quicker you’ll become better. Really. There’s no “secret to guitar,” no workaround. Just practice.
Some people say practice for an hour every day. Some people say just 10 minutes. I reckon it depends on where you are in your learning and progress. If you’ve literally just picked up the guitar, 10-20 minutes a day for a couple weeks may be all you can do, especially as you develop finger strength and calluses. The basics, especially the basic beginner guitar chords, take a lot of physical and mental energy at first, so 10-20 minutes may be all you have. Work it up to an hour and you’ll be enjoying yourself in no time.
2. Make Yourself Comfortable, But Sit Properly
I think this tip is often overlooked. A lot of the time, new guitarists don’t have a spot in their house dedicated to making music. Perhaps you’re practicing on the couch or sitting on the bed; don’t do this. Sit on a chair (without arms!) or a stool to sit on. You’ll be more comfortable this way and you’ll have full range of motion to play and practice.
I appreciate that not everybody has space in their home for a music room or even a music corner, but most people should have a chair or two! As I said though, make sure the chair doesn’t have arms. Chair arms get in the way of human arms.
3. Slowdown And Loop Difficult Parts
If you’re having trouble nailing a riff or getting a certain chord progression or rhythm right, slow down then play the part you’re having trouble with over and over. Then slowly get faster until you can play it at speed.
You’ll find that you may be able to play 80-90% of a song but there’s one aspect holding you back. So concentrate on the bit that’s holding you back!
- Chord change difficulties: maybe you’re playing an easy guitar song with only a few chords, but one change is hard. Don’t play the whole song and keep stumbling in one place, sit and practice that one change repeatedly until you get it.
- Rhythm difficulties: if you can hit the chord changes but the rhythm is hard, isolate the rhythm and ignore the chord changes (for now). Stay on one chord and do the rhythm slowly until you get it.
- Difficult riffs and licks: go slow and repeat. You’ll get it!
4. Concentrate On One Thing At A Time
When starting out on the guitar, there’s a lot to learn. You may be tempted to try and learn everything at once. Avoid jumping around too much. Sit down and say “today I’m going to practice chords” or “today I’m going to practice scales.” Even “today I want to learn this song.” Use your practice time effectively and efficiently.
5. Put The Guitar Down
This may sound counterintuitive, especially when you’re told that the only way to get better is to practice. But sometimes it’s a good idea to walk away from a challenge temporarily and come back to it fresh. If you’re having trouble with a certain technique, song, chord, or anything and you’re simply not making progress at it, it may be time finish practicing for the day and take a crack at it tomorrow. The frustration of not being able to do something may be what’s holding you back, so coming back to it later when you’re no longer frustrated can often be helpful.
6. Don’t Put Your Guitar Away
A guitar than you see every day is a guitar that gets played every day. It also means if you have a spare 10 minutes, you’re more likely to pick it up and have a quick strum.
Plus, if the guitar is somewhere visible, when people come over they’ll say “oh, do you play guitar?” And then you can say “yes” and people will think you’re cool.
7. Get A Music Stand
Just like getting comfortable and sitting properly, get a music stand. I’ve seen a lot of people try to put their music on the table then have lean over to read it while playing. You’re not comfortable this way and it’s not optimal.
Sit somewhat side on to the music stand so that both your fretting hand and the music is in your field of vision. You’ll soon learn to be able to play without looking at your hands, but keeping your hands in your field of vision will help keep track of things as you learn.
8. Play With People Better Than You
It’s never too early to start jamming with other people, and it’s not a problem if the people you play with are much better than you at guitar. Every guitarist has been in your shoes, so no one will judge you for being a beginner. In fact, they’ll want to help you, encourage you, and maybe even give you some pointers.
Playing guitar with someone who’s better than you will help you improve and ultimately have more fun when playing guitar.
9. Share What You’ve Learned With Others
Find a supportive friend or family member and show them what you’ve learned. Even if you only know one song, play that one song for them. Your friends and family want to support you and want you to succeed at your new hobby, and they’ll likely be impressed and how quickly you’ve learned even your one song.
10. Remember To Have Fun
Sorry, this guitar tip is a bit lame, but it is important. It’s easy to get frustrated when trying to learn something new, but remember, it’s just a hobby you’re supposed to enjoy. So enjoy it!