Friday, May 4, 2007

Ten Random Tips for Guitar Beginners

Here are some of the stuff I did when I started playing guitar and began learning new songs years ago, most of which mostly happened to me along the way unintentionally. As a matter of fact, it's only now that I was able put them into words.

1. Always give time to play guitar daily
Constant playing will make the player more accustomed to their instrument of choice. For the ardent guitarist however, one does not even make a conscious effort to put in the mileage on their guitar. It just happens. In my case, it's the most natural thing, almost instinctive, to go to my room and pick up the guitar.

2. Complete songs from the beginning to the end
It would be a memory practice and the same time, every completed song would be an addition to your repertoire whenever the need to play presents itself.

3. Learn to sing while playing guitar
An aspiring guitarist may not have the pipes that could be considered gifted, but that is a moot point. Being able to sing while playing is almost like a default function for a guitar player. It's definitely a desirable skill to acquire specially if your goal is to be in a band, but even if you desire only to play by your lonesome, singing along with your guitar playing can be an enjoyable experience as well.

4. Use a metronome
I've heard many play the guitar without correct timing. It may be a bit acceptable when you're playing solo with a free form kind of music but when your objective is play in a band, then you're in for a rough sailing. It is imperative for band members to play in synchronous fashion. Otherwise it will be a sonic disaster. Practicing with a metronome early on will aid in the development of getting the proper timing.

5. Hang out with like-minded and guitar (or musically)-inclined people
Even if you're not in a band with musician friends, just being with them is extremely helpful. You guys could be discussing theory, practice routines, exercises or just about your favorites bands, either way you're totally immersing yourself into guitar and music.

6. Try mentally dissecting songs
This might also be considered a part of "ear" training. Try hearing the segregation of the different musical instruments playing in a given song. It's fun once you get the hang of it!

7. Learn from the masters
Most of the stuff we hear are just recycled music from an older period, but given a touch of individuality by players considered as legends. Page, EVH, Satriani, Vai, Lukather, Hendrix, May, Clapton, these are all guitar heroes depending on which genre one is inclined to listen to. Hear what they have to offer, it's a lot for mere mortals like us.

8. Make small goals, one at a time, to cover a bigger goal
Sometimes a song you're practicing or a technique you're trying to learn may look daunting. But if you cut it into smaller bits, then focus on each small part, it won't look and feel as difficult. Each small target accomplished will get you one step closer to the bigger overall objective.

9. Keep listening to music
When you always listen to music, you tend to have more musical inputs in your mind. This broadens you tastes and makes you want to learn more styles and genres.

10. Join a band
There's no better way to practice while having a good time! No amount of backing tracks, even though how accurate and life-like it may sound, can measure up to the energy that a live jam session with a band generates. If you haven't tried it yet, then you're missing a lot!

I'm not saying all of these will work for everyone, as one man's wine could be another one's poison, but it worked for me in terms of my personal goals concerning guitar-playing. I'm still learning up to now, there's no end to learning stuff because as they say, the more you know, the more you know that you don't know!

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