You are on a weekend getaway with your friends and it’s time for some music. One of your friends has brought his acoustic guitar along and he starts to play it. Almost instantly, the evening comes alive, the atmosphere is magical. His fingers move faster on the fret board than yours move on the computer keyboard. He is the toast of the evening and clearly steals the show. You, on the contrary are left wondering, ‘Only if I could learn to play like that.’ The question is ‘Why can’t you play like that?’ What does it take to play the guitar? Does it require extremely fast fingers? Or maybe a musical ear is what you need. Is your friend gifted with some special powers that the ‘guitar genie’ from the lamp bestowed upon him? The fact is that just about anyone can play the guitar provided you are willing to put in the time and the effort. The reason most people are unable to do it is because they pick one of the ‘five golden don’ts’ of guitar learning. These are mistakes that almost every one of us can make and yet, they can very well end your aspirations to be a good guitarist. Wouldn’t you like to know what they are?
Number 1: Trying to self learn: Are you bitten by the do it yourself bug? I love the do-it-yourself bit too. But there are certain things that require the special and skilled hands of a teacher and the guitar is one of those things. There have been and will be self learners. But these are the gifted guys or girls that we spoke about earlier. For the rest, there is the safer and saner option of finding a tutor. All the literature floating around the internet cannot replace a good guitar tutor. So, if you have been dabbling with the thought of self learning, then drop it and find a tutor unless you are gifted of course.
Number 2: Trying to learn too fast: I must have heard this a million times. ‘I want to learn fast.’ Now why would you want to do that unless you have a trip to mars coming up in the next couple of months? If you feel that the guitar doesn’t deserve too much time or is as unimportant, then you shouldn’t be learning it in the first place. And thanks to the demand for ‘fast learning’ courses, there are hundreds and thousands of websites and books that are dedicated to such learning techniques. ‘Learn to play the guitar in 7 days’, ‘Learn to play basic guitar tabs in 3 days’. Why I have even seen the extreme in which you can learn to play the guitar in two hours! Absurd is the word to best describe such courses and websites. Do yourself a favor, stay away from them. Go slow, go steady and you will win the race.
Number Three: Lack of Practice: The guitar is an instrument that requires immense patience and resilience in order to master. If you learn a new lesson, then it must be practiced ‘at least’ once everyday until you can play it blindfolded. This is the technique that I successfully used. I have seen people practicing the guitar once a week. Believe me, you are going to find it very difficult to learn it if you practice in that frequency. Another common problem is that people only practice what they are good at, easily avoiding the rest. The reason is very simple. If you are good at something, then it obviously sounds good when you practice. But you are limiting your progress by avoiding the difficult parts. So start practicing the worst part before anything else. Slowly, you will learn to play it with equal ease.
Number Four: Jumping to chords: Another trait that is commonly seen in the ‘fast learners’. Chords are the mainstay of guitar music. Yes, they certainly are very alluring. But most people want to jump to chords and start playing songs as soon as they start to learn the guitar. This is extremely difficult, almost impossible. You have to master playing the scales first. Not only will the scales help you to build a musical ear, but it will also help you to spread out your fingers. Finger exercises are an extremely important part of building a strong foundation. And yeah, don’t forget to use that lil pinky.
Number Five: Give up too soon: You are going to be miserable at it for the first 5 to 6 months. Admit this fact and get along with it. It is human to produce those dead sounds at first while learning to play. But do not give up. You have to stick to it. Most people quit when they are nearly there. It’s up to you whether you want to make it or quit midway. It’s different strokes for different blokes. Do not be flabbergasted if your friend is learning faster than you are. Work hard, keep practicing and you will definitely be a good guitarist one day.