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How beginners can get consistent results on the guitar

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 CHORDSMEMORISATION – 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 CHORDSMEMORISATION – 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.

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Did you know that a lot of successful people play an instrument?

You can look at this from two perspectives. One is that as a successful person, you will get an extra creative edge if you play an instrument (for example the guitar). It acts as a tool to relax you after a heavy day at work and enhance the creative part of you, which leads to bigger professional success.

The other way of looking at this interesting link between success and playing an instrument is that by playing the instrument; maybe you have more chance of success because you use the same tools that high achievers use.

People who study music, develop the following skills: patience, creativity, pattern connection and perseverance … Can you see that these skills project into our every day lives? By practicing these qualities every day, you will not only become a better guitarist but also a more successful person. By successful, I don’t necessarily mean huge success and mega bucks, it could be success at your own level.

Did you know that Google’s CEO Larry Page played saxophone and studied music composition? He says that being a musician was integral to Google’s success. Also the CEO of Microsoft, Paul Allen is an avid guitar player and in 2013 released an album with his band The Underthinkers called “Everywhere At Once”. Even Albert Einstein played classical music as a brainstorming technique. He could play the violin and the piano. He would play a little bit of music in between his study and work on revolutionary theories.

I think there is a strong connection between playing an instrument and success! So if you are still thinking about learning the guitar, start today – Online Guitar Lessons.

If you are already playing the guitar, you can be proud that you belong to that elite group. Use music to enhance your creativity, and enrich your potential.

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How good should you be on the guitar by now?

This is my favourite one! A lot of my students say the same phrase -“I should be” … For some reason, those three words are extremely popular amongst guitarists 🙂 “I should be much better by now”, “I should know this”, “I should be able to play this song because …”

As Tony Robbins once said, people should all over themselves with unrealistic expectations. The ‘should’ word is a magic pill that helps explain everything. I have done this in the past, are you guilty of it?

So the question is – How good should you be on the guitar by now? How do you know how good you should be? If you are a beginner guitarist you may not have enough knowledge to judge how good you should be on the guitar by now. You simply don’t know what you don’t know! Many times, it is a result of comparing ourselves to others.

Maybe you have a friend that started to play the guitar at the same time as you did and he is now “much better” than you. But should you be concerned? We all learn in different ways, we are all unique and because of that, the world is diverse and amazing… Certain things come easier for some of us and for some, things are much more difficult.

I have seen countless numbers of examples of guitarists for whom the initial struggle turned into total success. How come you may ask? It is learned stubbornness and persistence. Since things are not so easy from the very beginning, they learned that the only way to get better is by being persistent. As simple as this sounds, you will be as good as you want to be on the guitar, but you need to keep going. You can’t be discouraged by slow results. When you picked up the guitar for the first time you didn’t think about how long it would take to learn a particular chord progression or strumming, you just wanted to play the guitar.

Don’t worry about your progress, pick up the guitar every day, have fun with it and simply love what you do. It doesn’t matter if you are slow or quick. Just enjoy the music and the results that you want will always follow.

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How long does it take to learn the guitar?

Quora and online guitar forums are full of questions like this. How long does it take to learn the guitar? Can you learn it in 24 hours or one week? Or does it take years of dedicated practice?

As usual with everything, you have to know your outcome. What do you mean by being able to play the guitar? Does it mean that you can play a few songs comfortably, or do you mean that you want to play a touching guitar solo and work as a professional musician? Once you know your outcome, it will be much easier to measure if you reached your goal.

If your goal is to play a few simple songs, you can achieve this in a relatively short amount of time. You can learn the song Zombie by The Cranberries in around 30 minutes as a complete beginner guitarist. It is easy, fun and will give you the instant feeling of being able to play the guitar. You can learn this song HERE.

For the majority of songs, however, you will have to develop a good knowledge of open chords and strumming patterns and it may take you a few months of daily practice for 10 – 15 minutes. The transitions between the chords cause a lot of troubles, so you have to be patient and consistent. I urge you not to give up simply because something seems to be a little difficult. Remember that all guitarists, even the best guitarist’s in the world were in exactly the same place where you are right now, struggling with the same things you are struggling with.

Most probably, it will take you around 6 months to start feeling a little bit more comfortable with strumming and chord changes. I have noticed that it can take even more than one year to get quite good with them though.

During that time you can start working on some advanced chords, arpeggios and simple guitar scales. Any time you add some advanced stuff to your practice routine it is going to make material that you have learnt in the past feel a little bit easier. The key thing to remember is that you should all always be learning new stuff and use the older material to monitor your progress.

It could be a good idea to start learning barre chords after 3 -4 months of playing the guitar. These shapes are quite difficult to master so again, you have to be patient. Mastering the barre chords could take 1 to 2 years, but during this time you will probably elevate your guitar skills to an early intermediate level.

 

To reach a solid intermediate level, you will have to play the guitar regularly for around 2 – 3 years. At this level, you will need to be practicing for at least 1 hour per day. During this time you will learn a lot of different songs and you will probably develop a sense of style. You will start doing things in your own way. You will also notice that your musical preferences may get more specific. You may prefer to play more pop or blues songs, or you will simply start to specialise in a certain style and technique.

I would expect that an intermediate guitarist would be able to comfortably improvise using simple guitar solo pentatonic scales and being able to arrange songs in a few different ways. You should also be able to jam with other musicians comfortably. It might also be a good idea to join a band at this stage as it will really speed up your learning process and you’ll be able to test your ideas with real people. There are plenty of bands looking for guitarists of all levels, from beginner to advanced, so I am sure you will find something suitable.

Around the 5 year mark, you will start noticing that you are getting really good at playing the guitar and you will probably move into a late intermediate level player. By then, you should be able to play a lot of different songs, use comfortable barre chords, power chords and so on. You should be able to play more complex guitar scales (for instance 3 note per string scales) and have a good sense of rhythm. Keeping good timing is essential for being a good musician but you can develop your rhythm by practising to backing tracks and jamming with other musicians. You should also be building your own practice routines that will give you strong, consistent results.

To become an advanced level guitarist, it may take around 10 years or more (sometimes less – I know plenty of guitarists who get there in 6 – 7 years) but again it all depends on your goals and practising habits. By this stage you should be practicing for 2 – 3 hours per day (some spend as much as 5 hours or more!) to keep developing your guitar skills.

If your aim is to become a well-rounded musician, I would expect a good knowledge of music theory and harmony, good compositional skills and flexibility in using guitar techniques. You should be able to transpose music to different keys, feel comfortable improvising using complex scales and arpeggios and be able to deliver a quality performance in a band or playing with others.

So to answer the question how long does it take to learn the guitar – you can learn a simple song in 30 minutes, but it will take you 2 -3 years to get to a decent intermediate level. 5 years to get really good with what you have learned and 10 years to jump to a more pro level.

I am learning and practising every day and I am enjoying every second of it. I think keeping your expectations realistic whilst practicing regularly, will give you awesome results.

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3 Ways To Fit The Guitar Around Your Lifestyle

It is not always that easy to fit learning how to play guitar around your busy lifestyle. Long working hours and a busy life make it quite tricky to practice regularly. On the other hand, if we don’t practice we don’t get any results, which is a cruel truth. Let’s try to find out what these 3 ways that we could fit the guitar into our lives could be.

Before we discuss these 3 ways to fit the guitar around your lifestyle, its a good idea to remember that even 5 minutes of playing the guitar is better than nothing. A lot of guitarists don’t see any value in playing for 5 minutes, but in my eyes it is still better than nothing and at least you will remember how your guitar looks!

Keeping your guitar visible and out of the case is an excellent way to remind you that you actually play the guitar. Once you notice the guitar in the corner of your eye, you can always pick it up for a few minutes.

Remember to make it fun and social. Play for your friends, don’t be embarrassed! If your friends don’t know how to play the guitar even strumming 3 simple chords will make you a guitar god in their eyes and think about how enjoyable you find it listening to someone play the guitar.

So what are 3 ways to fit the guitar around your lifestyle?

  • Play in front of the TV.
    I have written an article about this subject, so if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, you can check it out HERE. Playing the guitar for just 10 minutes when you sit down in front of the TV is a really cool way of finding extra time to play the guitar. You can do silent chord change exercises or practice simple strumming patterns and work on your tremolo picking (tremolo picking is a way of picking very fast). I teach similar things to my online Academy Guitar Members, CLICK HERE if you are interested in finding out a little bit more.
  • Split your sessions.
    Try to practice for 5 minutes before you go to work and again after you come back. I used this technique for years (actually I practiced for 2 hours before and after work). This method really works and will give you truly awesome results. You can practice chord changes in the morning and strumming (playing songs) in the afternoon. It is also a cool way to trick your mind. Since you picked up the guitar in the morning, it will be much easier to practice in the afternoon, as it will feel like half of the work has already been done!
  • Take your guitar to work
    How about some lunchtime practice? It may sound a little bit crazy, but you could keep your guitar at work. Many of you have a 30 minute or an hour long lunch break. Why don’t you use it to play a few chords and or entertain your colleagues. I have quite a few students who practice that way and they really love it. BONUS POINT – you will also probably become very popular in your office!

We all love the guitar, but we don’t always feel like practicing. I hope these 3 ways to fit the guitar around your busy lifestyle will help you practice some more.

Have a great practice routine today!

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You should practice the guitar in front of the TV… sometimes

Holiday season is always great because I have a little bit more time than usual to play the guitar … but in front of the TV! This is my perfect holiday emergency practice. I simply sit on my sofa, watch the TV and practice the guitar! It is my little secret to finding extra time to practice the guitar and be more social at the same time.

When I practice in this way, I only work on very simple exercises, such as scales or chords and watch the TV with my family. My goal isn’t to learn anything new, it is just about being more in touch with my guitar, so I only ever play what I have already memorised in the past.

For example, I might be struggling with some chord changes, so I just try to do some silent transitions between two chords. I also do simple chromatic runs up and down the neck. These are really simple exercises, but they give your hands a really great workout, especially if you are talking and you can’t concentrate fully.

If you are into soloing, watching movies and playing the guitar is an awesome way to train your improvisation skills. These days, movies are full of music. I use them as my backing tracks for improvisation and it really is awesome! If you try this, it will train you to find the key and corresponding scales.

For example, if there is a new song playing in a movie, I try to identify the key of the song and then I will try to match it with the scale. I don’t try to use any fancy scales, I simply use the pentatonic scale. So after I find the key, I then ask myself whether the song is in a major or minor scale. I usually play the minor scale first and then the major and my ear will tell me which one it is. After that, I just play some simple licks to the music I hear! It is a great way to train your ear, gain knowledge about scales in different positions and also improve your ability – all just by watching TV! (By the way, if that sounds a little bit blurry to you, I explain all of this in detail in my Online Guitar Lessons at guitar couch).

I found this to be my perfect ‘NO TIME FOR PRACTICE” practice routine. It keeps me motivated and gives me the feeling of achievement. My family is also happy, as I spend more time with them and my hands feel like they did a workout, so I feel more motivated to play! It is a great win-win situation. So don’t forget to go get your guitar and have a practice session, even when you are watching the tv or sitting on the couch 🙂

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How to turn a band audition failure into an inspiration

A lot of people see failure as a dark moment in their life. Let me tell you a story of the failure that turned into something very inspirational and rewarding. One band audition changed my life but let’s start from the beginning.

Right at the beginning of my musical journey I was totally into metal. I would play Metallica and Slayer covers with my friends in the dark corners of cellars and factory changing rooms. Back then, there were no proper practice rooms and studios, so we had no choice, but It was fun.

As much as I loved heavy music though, I was always open to different musical styles. At the end of the day, to me, music is music, so I would listen to anything that was on the radio. I knew that I wanted to be more than a single genre guitarist. I wanted to play and learn music as a whole, without narrowing down my options and religiously fixated on one style of music. I always found different musical styles highly inspiring. Instead of judging and refusing to listen to them, I would think how could use the melody or catchy tune to learn something new from it. So after playing exclusively heavy music for a few years, I decided that I want to try something new. I felt like there was something new waiting for me. I decided to join a pop-rock band.

I found an add in the newspaper (pre-internet times – things have changed since then). The band was looking for a versatile guitarist to play the 80s and 90 covers (it was back in the 90s so this music was very fresh). I decided to get in touch. The band invited me to their rehearsal. I appeared at the audition with my guitar, amp and with a hope that I would join the band. To cut a long story short, I did not get the job. Unfortunately, they did not like my style at all – I had too much metal influence and we really did not click together. Although it was a total failure, I was delighted. The fact they refused me to join their band was irrelevant. It was the first time I was exposed to a completely new way of rehearsing and working on music. I was so inspired by seeing real pros (they all had music degree) working together and I was blown away.

That night, on the way back from that audition, I sat on an empty train station. I watched passing trains and I was happy 🙂 I was so grateful that I had a chance to be in one room with this band. From this one audition, I learned so much. It opened my eyes to the communication between musicians, which is a required skill to be truly great ( it was the first time I saw a bass player doing proper sight reading during a rehearsal) and a whole lot more.

This experience gave me direction and kind of a virtual practice plan for the future. I saw exactly what was missing in my musicianship. I knew exactly what I had to fix in my guitar playing.

My friends were so confused. They could not get why I was so excited instead of being down. In my mind, I was the winner, this one unsuccessful audition started a completely new chapter in my life. It made me realise that I wanted to be much more than a one-style guitarist. I changed my practice routine and consciously started to listen to blues and jazz. After a few months, I auditioned for a blues band. These guys where much more understanding and gave me the chance to become one of them. It took a lot of work and ego shaping. Since then, I played in a lot of different bands. I gigged with blues, funk, electronic and experimental music bands.

I feel that without this one bad experience, I would never get where I am today. My failure turned out to be one of the biggest and most rewarding lessons in my life.

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How can I stay motivated to practice the guitar?

One day we are full-on and motivated to practice the guitar, the next we are completely flat and don’t even want to look towards it. Why does this happen to us? Self-motivation is difficult. I guess you have to ask yourself why you want to play and practice the guitar in the first place?

Is it because you love the look of the guitar or is it because you want to play your favourite tunes? Or maybe because you think it is easier to find a girlfriend or boyfriend (this one is funny because a lot of relationships are not very guitar friendly, Eg. After a while you may hear “honey put aside that noisy box and help me wash the dishes” or “Can you please stop making so much noise, I’m trying to watch tv).

We all have different reasons. For me, it is all about my love for music and weirdly enough about practising. I love practising the guitar 🙂 I do it every single day, its the first thing I do in the morning, together with my coffee. When I was working in my 9 to 5 job, I used to get up at 5 am to practice the guitar. It was my mental reset before starting work. Nothing else mattered at that moment. I had my headphones on (I used to live with flatmates) and it was all about the music.

Funnily enough, since I started to teach professionally, I do struggle to find the same initial passion and drive inside of me. I guess since I am surrounded by music all the time, I am kind of getting numb to it. I’m constantly searching for that same spark, but it is difficult to find it. I had to create new goals – the goals that are in line with my current mindset. I would say this, our reasons for practising and playing the guitar change all of the time.

Make sure you update and level up your goals and expectations and don’t be self destructive. Don’t challenge yourself with crazy un-achievable goals. This stuff kills or passion for practising the guitar. Set up realistic goals, i.e. I want to improve the changes between two chords within the next 2 weeks (not next 10 minutes), or I want to learn this song in the next two weeks. If you are struggling to achieve this goal then just adjust it, look from the perspective of what you have achieved by working towards it. Sometimes achieving our goal is not the most important thing, it is the journey that shapes us. What did you learn by working on a particular song or chord transition?

Find inside of you what you like about the guitar. Why did you want to start learning or playing? And keep it in your mind every time you pick up the guitar. Reasons come first, answers come later.

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Can I learn how to play the guitar if I have a physical disability?

A lot of people dream about playing the guitar but for some reason, they feel as though it is out of their reach. Accidents can damage or deform our hands, but the question is – can I still learn the guitar?

In my opinion – yes. Playing the guitar might be the perfect therapeutic activity you actually need. Consider that by not playing the instrument, you could potentially rob yourself of a faster recovery.

But what about these complex looking chords, you might ask? The good news is, that you can always tweak the chords – the common shapes that you see when people play the guitar can be adopted and simplified to allow people with disabilities to play the guitar. After such tweaking the songs may lose a little bit of the original spark, but who cares! If it sounds good to you, then it is great.

Playing the guitar is a very individual thing. It may look like we all play in a very similar way, but that is very far from the truth. Guitarists personalise their playing style, use customised chord shapes and so on. Back in the 60s and, 70s most of the guitarists only used 3 fingers to play the guitar. So if you are missing one of your fingers you will still be fine to play.

Check Django Reinhardt – after the accident he was left with only two fingers and played the stuff that people with all of their fingers would never be able to recreate. How awesome is that?

So yes! Probably you will also learn how to play the guitar. Don’t give up because you think it is impossible! Share some thoughts with me, let me know what you think info@www.guitarcouch.com

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You are never to old to play the guitar

We all think that in order to become amazing on the guitar, we need to start at a very early age. This is not true at all. I have been teaching the guitar for many years. 90 percent of my students are adults who had never played the guitar before.

What is amazing about that, is that they all have really great results. Not everybody wants to become another Jimi Hendrix or Slash. Some people just want to strum Knocking on Heavens Door in the evening and have some fun with their friends. A lot of people who started early also gave up early. I have a lot of friends who don’t touch the guitar anymore. They started playing at the age of 6 or 7, and by the age of 20 they had burned out. They lost their passion for the music. Isn’t that proof enough that you are not too late to jump on the guitar journey train.

You can do it, you can have amazing results and have so much satisfaction from your “hobby”.

It is not about changing the world by recording albums and playing big stages, it is about sharing the love for music with our families and friends and having something else relaxing to do, after a long day at work.

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