5 Useful Tips to Improve Your Guitar Practice
Who has 72 hours available in just one day? Nobody. And we all have to deal with the very little time available to us. Or better: we must learn to optimize it, to make it fruitful, to guarantee ourself a certain presence on the instrument even if that business dinner or change of shift is upon us. Not to mention the chronic fatigue of the 9 pm! Whether you are young or older, whether you are a novice or already experienced musician, here are five useful tips to improve your playing (and eliminate the annoying sense of guilt that you have not done enough, not even this week).
You have to decide how you want to play:
Oh yes, you never thought about it, did you? This is not a detail and is one of the most underrated aspects ever. Reasoning on your goals means selecting those two or three things at a time to bet on and which you can tap into to improve your playing. To be honest, I do not believe in the myth of “sounding great on everything”: everything is often synonymous of nothing. Better then to choose a style, a reference artist, a niche to turn to and go in that one direction rather than focusing on too many things at the same time. Do you need an example? Here it is: if you want to play Rock Blues and go crazy for the sound of Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, study Django Reinhardt and the gypsy jazz could be a little “out of context”. Think about it. Then, nothing is thrown away in music, but that’s another story. Harmony is only one, of course, but when you want to get better in a genre you have to acquire its language, study like crazy, catch its nuances, grab the right sound. In short, go to the bottom. In the study as well as in improvisation, the rule of “less is more” is worthwhile. And if you really do not know where to start, I can help you through the Membership option of my educational portal. We are here for this.
Making the daily study a good habit:
Finding the time to study every day – and I repeat: every day – is essential. I know, calm: it is not easy to find it, but somewhere – eliminating the distractions on social media, coffee breaks and stealing ten minutes here and there – we can get it out. Make a list of important, urgent and necessary things and you’ll see that something comes up. Returning to us: if one day you study for three hours and for the next three consecutive ones you do not touch the instrument, you will be a candidate to be the guitarist on Sunday but not the musician you aspire to become. It is very different to study an hour a day for three days in a row. This is because our brain needs to be continually stimulated and allowed to settle the thousands of information we supply. Having a program tailored to your level, to the time available, to you and know if you are on the right track are the necessary weapons to optimize your learning and make the process of improvement faster and more effective. What we said before is worthwhile: study a few things at a time but for good. Take a look at this article I wrote a couple of months ago. It might be useful!
Working on the Repertoire:
The goal of so much effort must be playing with others! If you have your own band and share your passion with friends, what should not be missing is the construction of a repertoire. Be careful: this does not mean neglecting the study of technique, harmony, and comping, indeed! On the contrary, it means to go down so deeply into a genre to be able, through the songs that you study, to express yourself through the right language. Dedicated to one repertoire at a time and not be superficial. What do you do with a hundred songs that sounds … “pretty bad” ?! Better to know ten of them … at their best!
Do not underestimate the comping:
Ok, we all dream of being on a stage in a club full of people and being applauded for our incredible and unforgettable solos, but rewind the tape: if you do not study the comping and you do not know how to stay in the groove of the band, who listens to you, rather than being excited by what you’re playing, they will ask themselves what to prepare for dinner or how to skip the next morning’s meeting. The goal instead is to hook and excite the listener. The more you improve your understanding of chords, the better the knowledge of scales and your ability to do the solo will be. Things are never separated from each other, conversely, they are closely connected.
If something in the past has not worked, change your way:
Get out of your “comfort zone”, listen to your gut and change what has not worked so far. If you are not satisfied with your method of study, the material you are studying and the improvements that you would have expected and that have not arrived, try to change your perspective. Often small changes translate into great improvements on the instrument, and not only. As I say to my Membership students during our weekly Masterclasses, the best way to improve their playing is to compare, share their videos with other students, to understand that the difficulties you thought of having only you are much more common than you think. And for this, I am honored to help so many guys around the world through my educational portal. After all, the world changes one “chord” at a time. All together.