Start With The Basics
I have seen many new students of mine who have been learning guitar for some time independently skipping many fundamentals, which ultimately holds them back as they try to progress further in their guitar journey. Many people skip the basics such as the body parts, open string names, basic fretting technique and picking/strumming/plucking techniques. Once these fundamental techniques have been practised it will make learning new songs a million times easier since you won’t be held up thinking about which string is the B string or why the note sounds weird since you aren’t fretting it correctly. There are many great YouTube channels to get you started (Justin Guitar, Marty Music) which is a great and extremely popular way to learn guitar in the modern age. A quality YouTube guitar lesson will slowly walk you through these basics which will lead to you being able to pick up new material quickly and efficiently.
Pick The Right Songs For You
A lot of my students start learning the guitar because they want to play one of their favourite songs! Unfortunately for them, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC or “Master of Puppets” by Metallica are not really songs that you can play after learning guitar for a few weeks. Picking the right songs for you in the beginning is extremely important for not only building up your guitar skills, but to also keep up your mojo for wanting to play your guitar. Let’s say you dive into “Master of Puppets” too soon and realise how difficult it is and how far off you are from playing it yourself. This could be a real turn off from the guitar for you and is the worst possible scenario when learning the guitar! By starting off with something much simpler but still enjoyable to play, this will keep your morale up and get you playing more often, which is exactly what you will need to improve! Some great beginner songs include “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People, and “TNT” by AC/DC.
On the flip side of that coin, if you are picking songs that are too easy and don’t challenge you, you won’t find yourself improving on the guitar which will in turn cause you to lose motivation. Don’t be too scared to jump into something that challenges you slightly whilst still being achievable!
Keep On Listening
One of the first questions that I always ask my students is what some of their favourite songs/bands/ artists are to get a gauge straight off of the bat of what sort of material we will be aiming to play over the next few months in our guitar lessons. By learning songs that you like, you will be likely to practice and also will have much more of a morale boost when you see yourself finally playing one of your favourite songs that you’ve listened to so many times! Listening is the key to learning a new song – by doing this you are allowing your ears to pick up on the rhythms used in the song to either play that riff or strum those chords. Without even having to think too much about it, having a listen to the song first will keep those rhythms fresh in your brain to be able to easily translate to your hands when you go to play it. I always tell my students if you can’t hear it in your head, listen to it again so it’s fresh to help you learn the song. Think of it this way – if you don’t know what it’s supposed to sound like how are you supposed to play it?
My final piece of advice for you is the age old secret to learning the guitar that no one wants to hear – practice! Yes that does unfortunately mean that there’s no immediate solution to becoming a guitar God but it does mean that you have an enjoyable activity to keep you entertained in your free time and a hobby that you can continue to build goals around. Repetition is key and you can’t expect to get anywhere if you aren’t putting in the hours. Make sure that you are picking up the guitar regularly throughout the week (ideally every day!) to see constant progress, follow the rest of the advice that we’ve just spoken about, and enjoy the ride.