Once you pass the initial beginner stage of your guitar playing, you’ll realise that in order to grow your skills, you need to do more than just play the same songs over and over again.
You might think that just by simply playing the guitar you will get better, but will you? Of course, your chord transitions for your favourite songs will get smoother and it will feel a little bit easier to strum these songs, but after a while, you may have this frustrating feeling that you are actually not progressing anymore.
Here is my point of view – you need to challenge yourself regularly so that you keep getting consistent results.
Make it a goal to learn a new song every few weeks. It should be something out of your comfort zone, something that will make you think, focus and should feel difficult.
Now here is the important thing to remember – it is our practice song. It means that you can’t get frustrated simply because it takes you a long time to learn the new chords or the transitions between them because even the rhythm will be unfamiliar.
You might start working on your new songs by analysing the first few chords in the intro or the verse. These days, guitar tabs and chords for the songs are readily available, so use them to your advantage.
This exercise will force you to do things in a different way. Now here is the truth. It will be difficult, but that’s where the value is. Trying to learn a new chord or the transition between a group of chords that are out of your comfort zone, will stimulate and strengthen your memory and help you develop memorisation techniques.
Once you have a few new chords to work with, you can build a new practice routine:
- CHORDS – warm up by playing simple chords that you already know (practice changing between them)
- RHYTHM – do some simple strumming with simple chords such as A minor or E minor (try to get a consistent sound from your strokes).
- SCALES – practice the A minor pentatonic scale or do some chromatic exercises
(as an example)
- NEW CHORDS – MEMORISATION – memorising is about learning and forgetting – in my case, it takes me a good few days to get familiar with a new chord or scales – that’s just how it works. So every day you need to try to memorise it again until you finally remember it 🙂
- SONGS – switch to something you are familiar with – play one of your favourite songs from start to finish.
- NEW CHORDS – MEMORISATION – repeat this step, again, don’t get angry if you don’t remember the shapes. It’s normal; you will need to repeat this for a few days.
- HAVE FUN – enjoy playing your favourite tunes
Once you are familiar with the chords you are trying to memorize, you can replace the MEMORISATION steps with the CHORD TRANSITIONS and then swap those out with STRUMMING/RHTYHM practise.
Remeber not to get frustrated with yourself. It is a long-term process and just an addition to your routine. Enjoy it and try to feel excited that you are going to learn something new.
As a final word, I want to say that working on more difficult or challenging stuff will boost everything else you have learned up to that point. This is a great way to accelerate your progress on the guitar. Give it a try and let me know how it worked for you.