7 Top Tips to Start Get You Started
Author: Lachlan Bush & Nick Drakakis Date Posted:16 November 2020
1. No Need to Rush into it!
Focus your goals on what you actually want to achieve. You run the risk of becoming overwhelmed if you try to take on too much. Pick a few good exercises or a song you want to learn and work on this.
Say you want to learn a particular song. Spend the first session learning the finger positions of the chords. Next time, come back and practice changing between the chords. Then you can put them in the right order and Bingo, you’ve learned a song!
You can do the same with scales and strength-building exercises. One goal at a time!
It may seem like it takes longer, but by learning this way and focusing on one aspect at a time your practice time will be much more productive. Accomplishing many small goals is, in the long run, going to be more beneficial than choosing impossible challenges and getting disheartened.
2. Play Often.
In the ideal world, you would play 6 to 8 hours a day, 7 days a week! For most of us, this is simply not possible. However, practicing every day, even for just 5-15 minutes at a time, is going to be more effective than practicing 4-5 hours once every fortnight.
The constant playing will build your strength and muscle memory much better and you’ll improve much faster.
3. Theory or Practical?
Both! It’s important as a beginner to distinguish between these so that you can focus your practice sessions on both areas.
When you start out on the guitar there is so much to learn - How the guitar makes a sound, how the fretboard works, how the separate notes in a chord make up that sound, and the list goes on. This knowledge about your instrument and music is vital to progress on your instrument. To play it properly you should know how it works, right?
Or to put it another way, every musician, whether self-taught or guided by a teacher, will come up with some way of organising all of the knowledge they have learned into their own personal ‘theory’. Along the way, you’ll notice that some patterns emerge, some chords look, sound, or feel very similar, and you’ll inevitably start to categorise this knowledge.
‘Music Theory’, as we know it today, is just a generally agreed-upon way of looking at music and its underlying patterns. But you don’t have to worry too much about that at the very start; instead, follow your instincts, try to spot patterns, and don’t be afraid to come up with your own lingo for music. When you want to be able to communicate with every musician, it might be time to learn the language of ‘music theory’.
4. Learn Songs or Learn Exercises?
Again, Both! Exercises will build your skill level to be able to play the songs you like. So that you don’t go insane on the same repetitive exercises every day, you should break up the monotony by learning your favourite songs! There is a wealth of information out there for learning popular songs. You can find some more info on how to find this Here.
If you’re not sure what song to learn or where you should start, we recommend starting with a teacher. We offer an introductory lesson with a teacher in your area, with every guitar! This is completely free, no strings attached so you should take advantage of this offer! A good teacher will set you up with the correct technique from the beginning. There’s nothing harder as a musician than un-learning bad technique!
5. Slow it Down and Play it Again.
If you’re having trouble with a certain exercise or part of a song, don’t give up! The most frustrating part of playing is when your brain wants to do something that your hands can’t play yet. The key is to slow it down. Slow down and play it over and over. Once you start to play it correctly you can very slowly start to speed it back up. If you fall off the wagon again, just slow it back down and keep repeating it. Eventually, your muscle memory will take over and you won’t have to think about it!
This is where a metronome or a drum machine comes in handy. You can slow it down and play in time with the beat or click and work on your timing at the same time. Two birds with one stone!
6. Get Inspired!
Listen to a wide range of music and try playing different styles. Listen to the parts that are being played. It’s funny how your perspective on music changes when you morph from a mere listener to a player. Everything changes! You start to hear the instruments individually instead of just the song. And you learn to appreciate the music that you may not have given a chance previously because now you understand that somebody actually played that!
By listening to a wide range of styles you take inspiration and techniques from different places and compile them into your own knowledge base. This eventually becomes your own personal playing style, so you should nurture it and feed it as often as you can!
7. Look Back and Smile
Every now and then think back a few months or years and give yourself a giant pat on the back at how far you’ve progressed. The learning curve is very steep in the beginning stages so it’s an exciting time. Make sure you keep track of your progression so that you can see that all the hard work is paying off!
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