Just wanted to write a quick article that has to deal with a few common things I come across regularly when teaching guitar students. Often I will ask students, "What would you like to learn today? Do you have any new music you've been listening to that you're into?". Many students reply with, "I don't know, I don't care what I learn!".
This response isn't good for a number of reasons. One, it demonstrates lack of interest, and two, if you don't tell your teacher what you are interested in learning, there's a good chance they may spend the guitar lesson teaching you something that you might not be enthusiastic about. Also, more often than not, this results in the student not practicing as much slowing down their learning process.
1. Learn Material That Genuinely Interests You
This leads me to my first point. You should learn material that gets you EXCITED. Don't get me wrong, your teacher should have a lot of good stuff to teach you, however, you should be learning stuff that you have a genuine interest in. The more excited you are about learning something, the more you'll practice it and dedicate yourself to learning it, which will in turn make you a better player. So always make sure that your teacher leaves you with something that you're stoked about learning and playing!
2. Slow Down When You Practice
Another mistake I often see students make when learning new material is that they try to play WAY too fast right off the bat. Last week I was teaching a student how to play the opening riff from Ozzy's 'Crazy Train'. The student was getting the main idea but continually attempted to play it at the actual speed of the recording. Over and over again the student kept repeating the same mistakes. Finally, I turned on the metronome to a tempo that was drastically slower than the recording and told the student to practice at that tempo first until they could play the riff through five times perfectly. Once they achieved that, we began increasing the speed of the metronome in increments of five beats per minute.
If you practice at a speed that is too fast for you, it will end up taking you longer to learn in the end. The slower you practice something the quicker your hands and brain will be able to memorize and learn it! I remember when I was first learning guitar, I would always want to practice new songs as fast as I could too, but it's best to slow down and take the time to learn how to play things correctly!
3. Commit To A Practice Schedule
Lastly, one of the most important keys to learning guitar is to set aside time each day dedicated to practicing your instrument. Even if you can only set aside ten or twenty minutes, that's still better than nothing. Ideally you should try for at least an hour or more... I know people who practice for six to eight hours somedays! A lot of students tell me, "I couldn't practice this week, I was too busy..." Later I find out from their parents that they weren't busy, they just chose to watch t.v. or play video games instead of practice. The more practice time you put in, the better you will get!
Keep these points in mind and you'll be well on your way to Rockstar status!
Simon N. is a RockHome Instructor that specializes in teaching guitar, bass guitar, and drums in Los Angeles, CA. Simon holds an associate degree in guitar performance from the world-renown Musician's Institute in Hollywood, CA. He is currently involved in multiple rock based music projects in the Los Angeles area.
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