Why is it so hard to learn the guitar?
Jane's 27 years old and she's been playing guitar for 3 months. She gets rather irritated when she keeps seeing those advertisements that claim you can learn guitar in 3 weeks and be playing like a pro in no time. Highly annoying!
Deep down she knows that it takes years of dedication to get to a high level of skill. Jane also understands that there are many common similarities that most beginners will run into when they are learning the instrument.
Since so many new players are going through the same problems, I decided to do a quick post about the most common ones, (as basically every novice guitar student will find something useful and relevant among them).
Here are the most common problems that new guitar students have, and a few tips for what to do about solving them.
STARTING and KEEPING A PRACTICE ROUTINE
We live busy lives, which means that a lot of guitar students don't have time to practice. But, even worse, new students have no routine for practice and it is very difficult to create one. Especially students who have never played an instrument before. If the person has no prior practice knowledge, (of what it is like to maintain a framework of study), it will be incredibly difficult to cultivate this into daily life.
Treat your study time as shorter in the beginning and keep what you're learning to the point, reviewing concepts a couple of times each. Keep your study sessions down to about 20 min. or at most half an hour.
Print out your TAB and music lessons placing them on a music stand in front of you, and practice guitar techniques for a set period each time, (which means that you can practice and just fool around at any time of the day afterwards).
Begin with very short study session segments - even 5 minutes at a time per topic will be to your benefit. Keep the guitar out and play at other moments during the day as well. While you're watching TV, while something is in the microwave, while you're talking on the phone, while you're waiting for someone or something, etc.
The point is to have your guitar out where you can see it, making it easily accessible, and able to pick up whenever you can.
LEARNING TO STRUM CHORDS
This is definitely the first serious problem that beginners run into. They learn to "sort of" hold down a couple of chords (which takes a considerable amount of getting used to in itself). Than they realize that they'll need to change in between all of these different chords. This is where the trouble begins.
Start with an easy to finger chord shape, such as an, "E Major," "A Minor," or a, "D Major." Develop the tone, get rid of flubbed notes and aim for clarity of sound at first. Then, work on another chord that starts getting more challenging, like learning to hold down a "C major."
It may seem impossible, but it will get easier to hold down and get decent sound from each chord. The same thing holds true with chord changes. Learn how to change between chords correctly, and work hard at it.This means going from a chord you know well, to a chord you're still learning.
HOW TO PRACTICE A SONG
"I have no idea how to properly study a song?" ...This type of statement comes mainly from students who like to skip between songs, without really learning them and without mastering the techniques that the song can offer the player.
What usually happens is that the student will start learning one of the beginner guitar songs, run into a problem and decide to go for another song leaving the first one behind. But the new song is a bit difficult as well, so they try something else, and so on.
The result is that without having learned any of the songs properly (or with dedication) and thereby not having improved at all, they feel like they've looked at every song, and don't know what to do next.
The better approach is not to give up on learning a song when you run into the first sign of difficulties. This is why you need to practice learning songs that are manageable. Often the beginner song books can be an excellent place to start.
For example, one song I recently taught in a class was Audioslave's, "Doesn't Remind Me." The songs' chord changes are really straight-forward with the verse only using "E and A" major chords. The chorus adds the "D Major" and the "E Minor" so overall, we have a perfect song for a beginner strumming piece.
Get the TAB here for "Doesn't Remind Me."
Finding songs like this would be the perfect place to start for a beginner. But, the most important factor in learning this piece (or any piece like this), would be to develop the chords outside of the song. Then, add them in one by one. Afterward, study the strum pattern. In other words, learn the song in pieces, in small chunks. Keeping everything manageable.
TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL ALONG THE WAY
The last point I want to make is how important it is to speak to a professional teacher along the way. I conduct Skype Classes with people from all over the world who often only touch base with me once every few months. They want to be assessed and then be reassessed to know that they're on the right path to learning most efficiently.
This is a critical key to development. Going at this alone places you in a vacuum and that will do nothing but foster a lot of bad habits. Those bad habits will cause you a ton of grief as time goes on. So, avoid them with either a private instructor, or through using a proper guitar learning system (like my Creative Guitar Studio course).
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