Think About What Has Drawn You to The Guitar
Now there must be a reason you’ve decided to pick up a guitar in the first place, especially if it’s as an adult so you can’t blame your parents for forcing you into lessons! Perhaps there’s a famous guitarist that you have always admired or a band that you love the sound of? Maybe you saw a concert and were drawn to the guitarist and decided you wanted to give it a go? Whatever it was, the reason why you first decided to pick up this instrument is something that you shouldn’t forget, as this will be important in establishing your goals. If you saw AC/DC live in concert and were obsessed with Angus Young’s guitar skills, perhaps a goal of yours is to learn a few AC/DC songs to jam at home. Or if you were out on a camping trip with a few friends and one of them decided to bring their guitar along, perhaps your goal is to be able to strum a few songs next time you go away for a weekend. Having some goals in mind will be very important in your guitar journey, as you will want something to move towards.
Find a Teacher That You Connect With
Although there are many resources online giving out free guitar lessons, it can be hard to keep up the motivation to continue learning and in a way that is appropriate for you, so finding a good teacher is very important especially in the early stages of learning the guitar. Having a teacher that you get along with and enjoy having lessons with will be one of the best ways to get you learning quickly, and to fuel your hunger and motivation for practice. A great teacher can be very inspiring, as seeing first-hand someone who is playing what you want to play is a very cool thing and an opportunity that you can’t really get any other way apart from perhaps seeing a live concert, but then the performer probably wouldn’t be too happy with you disturbing them mid-song to ask about what chords they are playing!
Practice, Practice… Practice!
There’s really no secret to successfully learning and improving on an instrument, practice! There is no way that someone can get good at the guitar without putting in the hours. If this was the case, everyone would be good at the guitar! This can go hand in hand with having a great teacher, as they will be able to advise you on an appropriate practice routine that will suit the student around their work, uni and personal commitments. The amount of practice that a student should commit to will vary from student to student, although I always say for someone who is starting to learn the guitar casually approximately 30 minutes a day every day (or most days) is a good place to start!
Once you start getting into a good practice routine you may find that you initially make improvements quickly as you learn the basic skills of playing the guitar, but after a while, you may possibly plateau in your progress. This is common for many students, so it is important to remember that you must be very patient when learning the guitar. It really is something that you can chip away at over a lifetime and never really master it, which in a way is the beauty of it. Learn to enjoy your progress and the material that you are practising at the time, rather than always getting down about the next goal that you have not yet reached.
Is Your Guitar Right For You?
Very often I see students come into their lessons with an old dusty guitar that they found in their parents basement, or a cheap guitar they’ve bought at a garage sale thinking they can start their guitar lessons with. Although it may not necessarily be wise to spend a fortune on your first instrument, you also need a guitar that won’t be holding you back and will play comfortably. Often the string height on older or cheaper guitars will be higher after not being properly maintained, requiring more strength to push the strings into the fretboard. Also, think about what sort of guitar you will need. If you want to be playing AC/DC songs at home it doesn’t make much sense to have a classical guitar with nylon strings, as what you are playing will never sound close to the original recording. This could also be a reason why you aren’t feeling motivated, when in fact it might not be you at all, it could be your guitar.
Is Your Home Setup Working in Your Favour?
Having a comfortable practice space at home is also extremely important to seeing progress on the instrument and enjoying your practice time, and often won’t require any money being spent! It can be as simple as having a good chair setup at a desk or table where you can clearly see the worksheets from your lessons to encourage good posture. After a while, you may want to purchase a few extra pieces of equipment to make your setup even more streamlined, such as a music stand, guitar tuner, plectrums, capos, and a footstool. All too often I noticed that students are trying to practice the guitar on the sofa while their worksheet is on the floor in a dark room, so I’m not surprised when they get frustrated during their practice sessions!
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