Learning any new instrument takes a period of patience and practice. All of your favorite musicians were beginners at one stage, so don’t be down heartened if you aren’t performing to virtuoso standards within the first few weeks of picking up your guitar! There are a few tips which should make the initial learning curve that bit easier.
The first few months of learning will be the most frustrating, not to mention the most painful! For those who are not used to the friction of pressing down strings on a fretboard, it can become quite painful on the fingertips.
As your fingertips become used to the tension of the strings, they will begin to harden and develop calluses. These will ensure that you are able to play pain-free in the long term, but it is advisable to take breaks when first learning if the pain becomes too much. There is no sense in rushing through the pain barrier and needlessly pushing the limits, as calluses will form and allow you to practice in your own time, at your own speed.
While you may have purchased a series of beginner’s books with scales and an introduction to music theory, what you are likely to really want to get down to is learning how to play your favorite song!
Make a list of the tracks you really want to learn and narrow it down to one or two you can really sink some time into. Break the track down into sections. These are typically:
Concentrate on one section at a time – don’t go and try to learn the entire song in one sitting. It is much easier to break songs into sections and progress through the learning experience in this way. Once you think you have mastered a section, stick the song on and play along.
You should not worry if your timing is out or if you hit the wrong notes when trying to quickly play along while remembering exactly which fret to hit as this is all part of the learning experience. It can be frustrating, but stick at it and the section will soon become second nature. It is then time to move onto the next section and repeat the process. You could then try linking them together and gradually build the complete song in this manner.
One of your new best friends should be the metronome. I know that this can be tedious to merely practice your timekeeping, but when it comes to playing the guitar, timing really is everything. There is nothing worse than a sloppy guitarist who is unable to keep in time with the rest of his band and nothing is more frustrating for a rhythm section that has to keep the beat together.
Putting the hours in with just you and the metronome for company can seem boring, but it is one of the most effective ways to quickly improve your playing. Set yourself basic lessons to follow, these could be:
- Play through a descending scale and then play it back up. Keep to the beat of the metronome. Once you have become more comfortable with the scale, begin to increase the tempo the gradually improve your playing speed.
- Simply playing through a chord progression in time to the metronome. This will allow you to improve your timekeeping while also working on your strumming pattern. Speed up or slow down the metronome depending on your comfort level, and also experiment with new strumming patterns. It will all come in useful in the end and developing skills early on will be extremely beneficial.
Sam Mulder is a writer who has a keen interest in technology. He believes that to get the best sound out of a stereo system, MP3 Player or electrical instrument, you need to use floor standing speakers to give your music that necessary boost.