How To Be a Better Guitar Player in Less Time

As a guitar teacher, I often come across adults who ask me “Is it too late for me to become a great guitar player?” And of course my answer is an emphatic “No! But let’s quit wasting time and get started today!” For those wishing maximize their results in a short period of time, here are some fundamental principles by which I guide my students, and they can help you, too.

The traditional method of learning any guitar concept works in a very “logical” order. The problem is the guitar is not like IKEA furniture; to be assembled in a step by step process.

Let me elaborate. Most guitar players will sit with (by that I mean practice) an idea or technique until it makes sense to them. At some point, many may even do so by sitting down and gradually increasing the metronome until they’ve reached a certain tempo.

This goal seems logical but isn’t necessarily as effective as it could be. I know! I’ve spent MONTHS working through various guitar techniques in this manner.  Assuming the goal is met, after reaching the physical ability, many students find that they are unable to apply this concept outside of the practice environment.

So one of the first “detours” from the traditional approach is to immediately begin applying this new concept while simultaneously attempting to master the mechanics of it as well as integrating this technique in with your other, well-established guitar techniques.

Sounds like a lot, right? It’s not. I will paint a clearer picture.

For example, you may have spent the last month on 2-hand tapping, and understand what notes you can tap as well as the circumstances where you can use this technique. Maybe you’ve even come up with your own exercise that showcases this new skill. However, like many guitar students, you find that you have difficulty getting into this technique from a fast scale run, OR following up the tap with a double-stop bend OR some other technique.
Obviously, this can be a problem. The most common solution? Simplify one of the sections to accommodate your skill level. So instead of doing a blistering scale pattern into a tapping sequence and following it up with a slow unison bend, you make some compromises: Maybe the scale pattern stops earlier than you want so you have time to prep the tap, OR you wind up skipping the double stop bend and just slide to the note instead because you don’t have enough time to get into position, OR you simplify the tapping. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to compromise!?!

The usual process is:

Identify the desire to learn a new technique;
practice it slow;
speed it up;
then find a musical context to insert it in;
then figure out how to flow seamlessly between other techniques.

The Quarter Bend Guitar Studio approach:

Identify the desire to learn a new technique;
Set a Goal;
Set a timer for 5-10 minutes;
Limit yourself to 5-10 minutes of practicing the concept;
In the same practice session, apply the concept to a backing track or chord progression for 5-10 minutes;
In the same practice session, practice getting into and out of this new technique from other techniques you’re working on for 5-10 minutes;

Finally, the last step is to  celebrate that it’s not going to take you 20 years (like it did for me) to master these concepts.

 

Practice Productively!
-Eric Dieter
Quarter Bend Guitar Studio

 

Like what you’ve read? Looking for a guitar teacher in Lancaster, PA? Look no further, book a free guitar lesson!