How To Solve Your Guitar Playing Problems Fast.
How To Solve Your Guitar Playing Problems Fast
By T. Hess
Are you constantly frustrated due to a lack of progress in your guitar playing? You’re not alone – all guitarists must overcome this frustration at one point or another. The reason why you are struggling to advance your playing is you have developed several bad playing habits that keep you from reaching your full potential. In this article, I will help you understand what these habits are and how to solve them.
Unfortunately, if you have already reached a major plateau in your guitar playing, you are very likely to experience this kind of frustration before seeing any progress toward your musical goals. If you are a self-taught guitar player, you are much more likely to develop bad habits and go through this because you have no teacher to guide you when your playing gets off course. This is something I see all the time when teaching new students who have been trying to teach themselves how to play for many years.
The good news is, you will significantly reduce the amount of frustration you go through by altering the way you fix bad habits and implementing the ideas I discuss throughout this article.
In my experience of turning average students into great guitarists for almost three decades, I’ve helped people fix any kind of poor playing habit you can imagine. The following list is just an example of some of these bad habits I’ve seen in new students who have to me to me for lessons:
1. Practicing methods that are not effective, because they are based off of misinformation or faulty premises. These types of practice approaches make it nearly impossible to accomplish what you want on guitar.
2. Very inefficient picking hand technique that stems from many years of practice using inefficient picking movements or a limited picking system.
3. Using one of the most destructive methods for learning scales – the CAGED method. This approach causes so many issues that I can’t list them all here, but in nearly all situations you will limit your creativity while improvising if you use it. It is very frustrating taking the time to undo the problems caused by the CAGED method and other foundational misconceptions, but once it’s completed, my students are very thankful to me for helping them become great musicians.
4. Undoing all the technique mistakes caused by years of using too much tension while playing.
Of course, the points above are only a few of the possible bad habits you might have. Whether you are suffering from ‘these’ specific bad habits or different ones, there are several steps you can take that will help you fix them and become a much better guitarist. These steps will help reduce the frustration described at the beginning of this article.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. BECOME EXCITED when you discover a fundamental problem in your playing, because you are about to become a much better player. Even if you feel a bit disappointed because you are not the player you thought you were, know that your playing skills can only get better. Instead of allowing yourself to become a mediocre player, you can simply fix your current playing issues and take one step closer to becoming the guitarist you always wanted to become. This is a reason to celebrate!
2. Think as specifically as possible. Before you will fix a fundamental playing issue, you need to:
A. Pinpoint the problem you are facing
B. Think about WHY this issue is keeping you from reaching your musical goals
C. Determine the steps you must take to eliminate the issue
D. Figure precisely why these specific steps are the best solutions for solving the issue
E. Picture how much better you will be once you have solved the issue and improved your playing skills
Each of the five points mentioned above are all highly important. To get inspired to go through the work needed to fix a fundamental problem in your playing, you must understand both ‘what’ the problem is and WHY the problem is keeping you from becoming a better player. Additionally, when you visualize what it will be like when you overcome your current issues (and what it will be like to play guitar how you want), you will drastically improve your ability to sustain motivation throughout the improvement process.
The majority of guitar players only focus on one or two of the points mentioned above (usually A and C) while completely ignoring points B, D & E. This increases the chances that they will run out of motivation long before they totally fix their bad playing habits.
3. Focus on correcting one issue at a time. It is very easy to become overwhelmed when you learn that you have tons of issues to work on (essentially making you feel like you are starting over as a guitarist). You don’t need to feel this way and I’ll explain why:
Keep in mind that simply being aware of an issue in your playing is the first step to correcting the issue and becoming a much better guitarist. This applies to all issues you may be having whether they are very core, fundamental problems or smaller less important mistakes. So don’t feel overwhelmed – put together an organized practice schedule and tackle each issue one by one until you have solved them all.
This transitions into the next point:
4. Don’t feel like you have to solve ALL of your playing issues at once. In other words, don’t put your other guitar skills on hold in order to fix your bad habits. This is something that many players do and their playing suffers as a result. Rather than doing this, simply set aside time to practice/improve your problem areas, but continue to develop in other areas of your playing as well.
5. Stop trying to solve you bad playing habits by yourself. If you did not have the foresight to prevent these issues from occurring, you’re not going to know how to fix them. Instead, locate an experienced guitar teacher who has invested a lot of time into helping players like you achieve their greatest musical goals.
6. Maintain your patience throughout the correction process and push through to the end. Eliminating very fundamental bad habits in your guitar playing is no easy task. As soon as you begin the process, you will have to strongly resist returning to your old, more comfortable playing methods. To make sure you stay on the right track, ALWAYS keep your mind focused on the end result you desire for your playing.
7. Make yourself part of a supportive community of great guitarists who will be there for you throughout the transformation process. By surrounding yourself with these types of people, you will drastically increase your motivation to get better and attain your musical goals. I know this works for a fact because I’ve seen tons of guitarists in my private student forum (full of motivated and supportive players) transform from ‘average’ to ‘virtuoso’.
After reading this article, you are now prepared to begin fixing fundamental issues in your playing. Carefully follow the points in this article, apply the concepts into your current practicing methods and find a great guitar teacher who will guide you along the right path. Once you do this, you will quickly reach your highest guitar playing goals and become the guitarist you always wanted to be!
Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, composer and successful rock/metal guitar teacher. He helps guitarists around the world improve their playing skills. On his website tomhess.net, you can find a free guide to choosing an effective guitar teacher, guitarist resources useful guitar playing assessments, and articles.
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