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, there are some fundamental principles by which I guide my students. In order to understand how to achieve significant results, we need to understand what the biggest obstacles are so that we can remove them!
When I was first learning guitar, I attempted to walk through the learning process in a linear-type fashion. Obviously there are a few step-by-step processes that I needed to take in the VERY beginning (buy a guitar, get some picks, search for a teacher, hire a qualified guitar teacher, form a band, etc) but you will quickly find that my step-by-step “Guitar Skills Installation Guide” wasn’t really suiting my overall goals. Worse yet, this guide seem to be written in a language that was difficult to read, with wacky symbols and strange rules that almost made sense. Do I really need to be able to sight-read 16th notes before I can play my first guitar solo?
Don’t get me wrong, some of it was fun, I wouldn’t have stuck with it if it wasn’t…but I found myself skipping around a lot. Before I knew it, my-step-by-step guide became a choose-your-own-adventure book. And I missed a lot of things. Most importantly, I missed the chapter on how to practice. It seemed to have been omitted from my copy of the method book.
So I spent MONTHS working through various guitar techniques with a “grind it ’til ya get it right” approach. Assuming my goals was met, after reaching the physical ability, I would find it very difficult to use this thing I practiced outside of the practice environment.
There was a bit of frustration early on when I ‘d go to play with my friends. While I was confident in my playing, I also knew I was capable of more. Even though I was practicing all of these cool scales and arpeggio patterns at home, when I was playing with others, I kept leaning on same 2-3 “shapes” that I learned 6 months earlier. I wanted so badly for my friends to see all of the cool things I could do, but in a real setting I had to water down my playing because I wasn’t sure if I could pull of the difficult passage or not.
I’d keep coming back to “why can’t I pull this technique off ALL OF THE TIME?”
Here’s what I discovered after playing guitar for almost 25 years and teaching guitar for well over 10 years:
The Standard Guitar Learning Process Is:
1.Get bored or frustrated with limited guitar vocabulary;
2.Identify a new technique to learn;
3.Practice it slow;
4.Speed it up (maybe even with a metronome, like everyone tells you to do);
5.Find a song to cram it into whether it fits or not;
6. Figure out how to seamlessly connect it within the context of the song;
7. Discover that this technique can only played in certain situations/keys/positions on the guitar/ when preceded by a specific sequence, etc.
This usual process is frustrating and limiting. It has even left some players musically unreliable. When I was younger, this “learning” process left me feeling insecure because my playing was inconsistent. Some gigs my fingers would land in all the right places and my brain was making all of the right choices. Then I could play another gig the very next day and deliver a sub-par performance.
It took me a long time to figure out… and a lot of money spent on schooling and impressive teachers and great mentors. I’ve put together a program for my students that helps them achieve exactly what I sought. I have found a process that can take nearly anyone and turn them into great guitar players. All it takes is a commitment from my students and the willingness to follow my simple instructions.
Are you ready to break out of mediocrity and become the guitar player you’ve always wanted to be?
Quarter Bend Guitar Studio
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