In part 1 of this series, we looked at three important tips to get you learning to play the guitar quickly. Now let’s continue with some additional and equally important tips.
4. Devote Some Practice Time to Improving Your Guitar Technique
When you know the most common scales and chords used in songs, you will find that you will learn songs much, much faster. However, one thing that can hold you back is your guitar technique.
Knowing how to play chords and scales is great, but without good chops (playing skills), you will need to spend way too much time on the technique aspects of the song.
This is where guitar technique exercises come in. There are certain guitar technique exercises that will improve your overall guitar skills. This will allow you to easily tackle even the most challenging songs.
The idea behind technique exercises is simple. Their goal is give you challenges that will improve your playing in specific areas. This means when you go to a song it will be much easier to play because you’ve already got a good technique base.
This is just like going to the gym and beginning a fitness program. As you continue to workout, you will soon reach a point where your everyday activities seem so much easier compared with what you’ve been doing in the gym.
5. Learn the Basics of Guitar Music Theory
A lot of guitarists get scared when the words “music theory” come up. There are many misconceptions about music theory.
Music theory is simply a way of organizing the things composers have used for hundreds of years.
When you understand the basics of how music theory can be applied to the guitar, you will learn everything on guitar faster.
Think about it like this…
Image someone walks up and starts talking to you, but you can’t understand a single word. He keeps saying the same thing over and over as you shake your head and reply: “I can’t understand you.”
Finally he makes a gesture to look out the window. Now you get it, he was telling you that your car is being towed!
Music is a language of its own. The more of the language you understand, the easier it is to learn. You will see connections you never knew existed.
When you understand the basics of guitar theory, everything you do on guitar will start to make sense. You will see the big picture of how music works. When you understand how things work, you learn things faster. You will get lots of those “ah, that’s how that works” moments.
6. Focus on Rhythm
You can play all the right notes and chords, but if you play them a bit too early or a little too late, the song won’t sound right. In fact, playing a correct note at the wrong time means you are actually playing a wrong note!
This is why it’s so important to have some good basic rhythm skills.
Now don’t get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with learning songs! In fact, learning songs is very important. After all, learning songs is the main reason for playing guitar. Nobody picks up the guitar just to learn chords, scales and theory. Of course, knowledge of chords, scales and guitar theory will allow you to learn songs much, much faster.
Improving your rhythm skills will improve all aspects of your playing, so you will want to devote some of your practice time to improving your rhythm chops.
7. Learn Songs
This one is a no-brainer. Obviously you wouldn’t want to play the guitar if you didn’t want to play some fun songs.
So yes, you definitely want to spend time working on songs. It’s funny because, this is one thing I don’t have to remind beginners about, but once guitar players start to really advance, they can sometimes start to really focus on advanced technical stuff and often forget about songs.
Playing guitar is ultimately about making music, so it’s crucial to devote some of your practice time to playing songs, whether they are your favourite guitar player’s, or songs you have written. The key point is learning songs should not be your entire practice session. As you’ve already learned, there are other important things that you need to cover every practice session if you want to advance quickly as a guitarist.
If you are a beginning guitar player be sure to learn songs from professionally transcribed sheet music/tab. A lot of the free guitar tab you can find online is not accurate. This means you may end up wasting lots of time trying to learn a song and then wonder why you just can’t get it to sound right. It’s because the tab was transcribed wrong, or has a typo, so no matter what you do it won’t sound right!
Here is a link to a free tutorial I created on what to look for in guitar sheet music and guitar tab so you don’t waste your time.
In this tutorial, we have looked at 4 additional tips that will help you to learn guitar on your own. Obviously we’ve only scratched the surface of effective things you can do to learn guitar on your own.
Are ready to learn more about each of these tips and how to use them in your next guitar practice session? If so, check out these resources:
If you are a beginner to intermediate player and you want to improve your guitar technique, consider the Top 30 Most Powerful Guitar Technique Exercises of All Time.
If you are an intermediate to advanced guitarist, check out Mega Chops: Scale Mastery Beyond Hanon for some powerful ways to improve your guitar technique.
To totally understand guitar theory and apply it to the guitar, check out the Absolute Essentials of Music Theory for Guitar.
To learn songs faster, check out 21 Secrets to Learn Guitar Songs Super-Fast.