Guitar Playing Lessons, what I've learned

Guitar playing lessons are pretty easy to come by in all forms. From DVD's to books with play along CD's to online sites with instructors. I have found all of the above helpful, but sifting through the mountains of information can be overwhelming.

What I've found is that learning how to play the guitar is a process that differs for everyone, and that there is not a definitive set path for everyone.

We are all different in skill, physical ability, what we'd like to be able to play. A good friend of mine wanted to learn ten Christmas songs using simple chords. That's all he wanted to do, so his goal was much more achievable, and the guitar playing lessons he needed where pretty simple. My goal however, which is to play blues rock in a Stevie Ray Vaughan style is a little more difficult. I may never get there, but I'm going to die trying.

The point is we all have different goals, and guitar playing lessons will vary depending on your goal. Having said this there are some basics that I've learned and read about that will help every aspiring guitarist.

-Your strumming hand is as important as your fret hand. When I first started it was all about getting my fret hand fingers to land on the right string. Important of course, but without any thought of the pick hand, my left hand quickly outpaced my right.

I now practice emphasizing both left and right hand together, whether it be chord switching or string picking I always am thinking of more efficient ways of moving the pick, as well as keeping good time.

-I hate drills, but always practice with a metronome or backing track. If your new or advanced you always can use or need better timing skills. You'd be amazed at how well you will advance with a metronome, it's like a really lame rhythm section, but always in perfect time.

-Take a few minutes and relax before practicing. Avoid the death grip on the fretting hand. I used to hold the neck like it was a rail on the Titanic. I now concentrate on keeping as loose as possible, and keeping my fingers as close to the neck without actually touching the strings. You'll play much better loose.

-Remember that consistent practice is much better than binge practice. Playing everyday for a half hour is better than ten hours every Saturday. There have been many times where I just have to put the guitar down. Only to find that I could play the lick perfectly the next day that I was struggling with the night before.

-You need some theory, I still swear by a book I found called the Guitar Fretboard Workbook. It literally covers everything in a structured format.

-The most frustrating thing I've found in my playing progression is that only time will make me a better player. There is no rushing it, and everyone will learn at a different rate. You have to practice, and let it happen, good luck and don't give up.



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