How To Play Anything On Guitar Using A 3 Step Practice Approach
By Tom Hess
Did you ever practice to get good at something on guitar only to end up making next to ZERO improvement? Although you worked really hard, progress always seemed just out of reach. making you feel frustrated and pessimistic about your chances of becoming a great guitarist.
Before I reveal to you how to figure this problem out and play guitar like you want, you must know and believe that you CAN achieve your musical goals, just like your favorite players. However, if you struggle with problems in your guitar playing, it doesn’t mean you lack talent and will never become a great guitarist. It just means the following:
1. You never understood the right steps to take while practicing to play anything you want on guitar (more on this below).
2. You were never properly taught HOW to practice using the steps from above. This is tricky to understand for many guitarists (in particular, self-taught guitarists) because it requires an expansive understanding of how to practice guitar very effectively. It’s simple to understand WHAT to practice (since these things are often rooted in common sense), but implementing them correctly is not so simple.
The 1st thing you need to do is see your guitar playing as a battle between two forces: the practice you do to make your playing feel easier, and the challenges that make your guitar playing much more difficult than necessary. Whenever one side wins over the other, your goal splits into two halves:
- To keep practicing guitar in the most effective way possible, in order to make fast progress (I’ve explained many approaches to this in my past guitar improvement articles).
- To move beyond certain challenges that keep you from playing the things you want to play as well as you’d like to play them (this is what I’ll show you below).
To help you totally understand the practicing process explained below, first check out this video that shows how this method makes your guitar playing better. Do this now before you read the rest of this article.
Note: the video above is a demonstration of how to practice guitar correctly using only a single context. However, the general approach for correcting problems works the same for any technique or musical style (metal style sweep picked arpeggios to blues guitar style double stops ).
Start playing whatever you want on guitar by following these steps:
Step One: Act As A Doctor While Practicing Guitar
The fundamental mistake guitarists make while practicing is attempting to solve symptoms (things they believe to be problems) in their playing, instead of focusing on ROOT causes (the real problems). This applies in particular to the majority of self-taught guitarists, who were never shown how to effectively practice guitar. As you observed in the video above, it’s easy to misdiagnose a problem and falsely assume you know its cause, only to waste tons of time practicing the wrong things (all while making slow progress at best).
The best way to prevent yourself from wasting time on mere symptoms of problems and to truly improve your guitar playing, is to get feedback from an experienced guitar teacher who can watch you play and pinpoint the specific things that are holding you back. In addition to giving you the immediate solutions to your musical challenges and frustrations, working with a proven teacher will help you to ultimately become your own guitar teacher and fix your guitar playing challenges by yourself. This is easily the greatest benefit of guitar lessons, and is the reason why guitar players who learn with a great teacher quickly become killer players.
This is not unlike going to a doctor with some symptoms of not feeling well or having certain aches in your body. Rather than giving you medicine for the most obvious symptom of a problem, an effective doctor identifies and fixes the root of the problem, so you can feel better (fixing all the symptoms at the same time). Of course, doctors aren’t born with knowledge of how to solve health problems – this knowledge is gained and learned. The same can be said about your guitar playing: even if you have a difficult time accurately pinpointing the causes of the hardest guitar playing problems right now, you surely CAN learn to fix them and (over time) be your own guitar playing doctor.
Step Two: Turn Your Problems Into Self-Sufficient Guitar Playing Exercises
Once you’ve identified the problem that is preventing you from playing what you want on guitar, your next move is to find out how to correctly isolate and fix it. As you observed in the video above, spotting the specific issue (the hammer on and pull off in that particular example) was NOT enough on its own. The next step is to place the problem into the original context to transform it into a self-sufficient exercise. “Self-sufficient” meaning you do not need to research additional new guitar exercises to fix it – because the issue BECOMES your exercise.
To understand more about how to correctly perform this step, check out this article about how to correctly practice guitar.
Step Three: Don’t Stop Drilling…Until You Strike Gold!
Once you identified the exact problem that must be solved to move your guitar playing forward and you correctly transformed it into its own exercise, you now have to practice the problem until it’s solved.
The mistake that most guitarists make in this step of the process is not performing plenty of quality repetitions for the exercise in order to develop a new guitar playing habit to replace the previous one.
Version One: Some guitarists simply give up on practicing the exercise too early - they get disinterested after practicing for only a few minutes. never to practice the exercise again. In the end, they just don’t do enough repetitions of the exercise to improve their guitar playing to begin with.
Version Two: Other guitarists will discipline themselves to practice the exercise for many hours without stopping. Although they perform many repetitions of the exercise, the quality of each repetition begins to decline as they play the exercise over and over, eventually losing focus. Check out this article about practicing guitar without direction to discover more about this.
The right way to create a good habit is by continually practicing guitar in bursts of concentrated effort for several minutes at a time. Rather than forcing yourself to practice the same thing nonstop for many hours, practice it for several minutes at a time, various times throughout the day, accumulating tons of repetitions over the course of a day.
Version one of the mistake above happens often to guitar players who practice randomly (without any kind of schedule). Their practicing is completely unorganized and messy (directly affecting their guitar playing).
In contrast, version two of the mistake above happens frequently to guitar players who don’t know the nuances of correctly training the body and the mind to play guitar. Rather, they try to build their practice routines using a linear guitar practicing method with a pen and paper.
To steer clear of both mistakes, you must be aware that teaching a human being to play guitar is much different than programming functions into a computer. This is why you need to use effective guitar practice routines that are designed specifically for getting fast results.
Now that you know what is required to play anything you want on guitar, begin taking action on the tips given in this article (as well as the resources offered throughout) to make your practice sessions highly effective and your guitar playing less difficult.
If you still have a hard time attaining the results you desire from your practice time, you will achieve your guitar playing goals faster by working directly with me. Read about online lessons for guitar and tell me about your guitar playing challenges that you need help with.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional musician, composer, and highly successful guitar instructor who trains and mentors guitarists with online guitar tuition . Visit tomhess.net to get free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources, mini courses and more guitar playing articles.