Want to make fast and consistent improvement in your guitar playing?
There are many things you can do to ensure you make consistent and quick improvement in your guitar playing.
In this two part tutorial, we will look at 5 overlooked ways to improve your guitar playing.
Most guitarists know the most obvious thing you need to do to improve your playing—good old-fashioned practice.
Just like the old joke asks:
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice, practice, practice.”
Obviously, you won’t get better on guitar if you never play, but there is a catch. You’ve got to…
1. Know What and How to Practice
It’s not really about the total quantity of guitar practice. It’s really about the total quality of guitar practice that matters.
I’ve had new students come to me that are just not improving. These beginner to advanced players are often putting aside more than enough time to make improvements in their guitar playing.
Usually the cause of this lack of progress is discovered by looking at how they practice.
It comes down to 2 factors…
1. What they are doing with their practice time.
2. What they are not doing with their practice time.
Both are equally important.
What is surprising though, is that a lot of the time, it’s what they are not doing in their practice sessions that is holding them back even more.
Let’s face it, you could practice guitar for several hours a day, but if you are only working on one song in your practice session, your potential for improvement on the guitar is limited to what that song has to offer.
Just like if you only practice certain chords, or scales, your improvement will be limited by what you are working on, as well as what you are not practicing.
There are many things that need to be worked on during each practice session, or you are virtually guaranteeing slow to no progress on the guitar.
For a good overview on how to set up your practice sessions for maximum results, you can download your free copy of The EDGE: Maximum Guitar Results in Minimum Time, here:
The EDGE: Maximum Guitar Results in Minimum Time
Even when you’ve got a great practice session that includes everything you need to improve your playing fast, there is one very important factor that can stop your improvement dead in its tracks.
It’s a very simple but overlooked concept—focus.
Anything that takes away your concentration when you practice will slow down your progress.
Let’s say you have set aside 30 minutes for today’s practice session.
You sit down and start to practice.
Everything is going great, in fact you are in the zone.
You are really making some progress but then, “ring, ring” your phone goes.
You stop and answer it.
Now you return and pick up your guitar. Now the question is: “where were you?”
You now have to try to get back into the zone.
Unfortunately, more often than not, it will take some work to get back into the groove. Sometimes you never quite get back.
Even a short 3-5 minute conversation can steal a chunk of your practice time, PLUS whatever time it takes you to get back into your playing.
You can see how a simple phone interruption can end up stealing a big percentage of practice time.
So the takeaway message from this is don’t allow outside distractions to rob you of your practice time. This is especially important when you have limited practice time.
My recommendation is to turn your phone to silent, and let family members/roommates know that you are not to be disturbed during your practice session. Catch up on your phone and email messages after your practice session. It is supposed to be your practice time after all isn’t it?
3. Got Rhythm?
One way to broadly define music is the art of sound in time.
The tendency for us guitar players is to become very focused on the technical aspects of physically playing the guitar.
This often comes at the expense of rhythm.
Most guitarists learn the basics of keeping time and then tend to neglect rhythm.
But let’s face it. Playing the right note too early or too late, means you are actually playing a wrong note!
So be sure to set aside some of your practice time to improve your rhythm playing.
Keep in mind that rhythm playing doesn’t just mean rhythm guitar. When you think about the most popular memorable guitar solos, they all have strong rhythmic elements to them.
There are many ways to improve your rhythm guitar skills. The quickest way to make improvement is to work with a metronome.
Practice your scales and chords with a metronome.
The key is to vary the rhythms. If you are a beginner, you will need to work on basic rhythm patterns (see my tutorials Playing Rhythm Guitar Parts 1-11 for the basics).
Once you’ve got the basics of rhythm down, mix up them up. Practice scales, chords and technique exercises using different rhythm patterns. Use syncopated rhythms too.
This covers the first 3 overlooked ways to improve your guitar playing. Here is part 2 of this tutorial…