A Method to Learning the Guitar
Despite there being so many resources available these days for people wanting to develop their acoustic or electric guitar skills, the vast majority of guitar players end up progressing at a rate that is often much slower than it needs to be. This is due to several factors including:
- Attempting to interpret mixed information from too many sources online
- Not receiving feedback in real-time from a skilled guitar teacher
- Not clearly understanding that the skills we need should be developed in the right order
There are two basic principles that I use in my teaching. The first is that what we need to acheive is to build complex skills out of smaller and more simple skills. The second is that the way we build any skill is to persistently train a certain action until it happens automatically. Only when skills go on auto-pilot is it time to work on the other components involved!
“When you take this approach to learning guitar skills the results will come quickly, you will have good habits from the beginning and you will avoid the frustration that so many guitarists encounter along the way”
What you can learn using this method
Starting From Scratch
I know that in the beginning the process of learning guitar can be very daunting. I actually started to learn left-handed a few years ago just to remind myself what my students were going through and it was humbling! Fortunately you do not have to be stuck in these early stages for a long time. By breaking down the tasks required in the beginning (changing chord shapes quickly and strumming) into simple actions, you can be proficient within several weeks. I have worked with many beginners to get quickly through this phase on the guitar and the rewards are worth it.
Many guitarists feel that music theory is an elusive and difficult subject but it really doesn’t need to be. In fact, understanding theory is empowering and can open up a whole new world on the guitar for you. This method is particularly good at breaking down the process into simple steps and targeted exercises that really show you how theory works and how to apply it. This is particularly useful for those who have been learning guitar for a while but feel that they would like to properly understand how it all works.
Learning To Jam and Improvise
Once you understand a bit of theory, the first thing you want to do with it is to be creative! There is no better feeling than jamming with other musicians- all of you using the understandings you have gained to create music at the same time together. And yes, ANYONE can learn it. I have taught many students how to improvise creatively and be responsive in a musical situation.
Learning Specific Songs and Techniques
Let’s face it, it’s almost always a certain song that inspires us to learn the guitar. For me it was Under The Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers! This process of dividing skills into a sequence of simple actions really makes its mark when applied to learning songs. If we get the order right and practice the components until they happen automatically, we can build up the complex skills required. For example, the song Neon by John Mayer seems like an impossible technique on face value but in fact, it can be learned quite quickly by learning 5 simple steps in the right order.
Use the time that you spend practicing in the best way possible. By focusing on getting the actions right, one step at a time, you will fly through the stages and before you know it you’ll be reaching your goals.