2 Secret Keys to Improve Your Guitar Playing

Like any instrument it takes lots of knowledge of the instrument. To truly improve your guitar playing it will take consistent practice and time to learn to apply what you’ve learned and lots of patience. This is common sense, but for many guitar players, there is a feeling that they are missing some kind of secret. Well, this is kind of true. Today we will look at two very important elements you will need to become a great guitar player. Whether it’s just to be able play what you want from home or to preform huge concerts. These are not all you need, but they are necessary. I am calling these secrets, pillars because, to have a large fortress you need a strong foundation and stable support to uphold what you’re going to build on the top.

So, why do some people seem to be born with it? Did they learn from some guru or are they just “gifted”? They may have been taught it and they might be a little “gifted”, but that isn’t enough in the long haul. If you think that is all you will need then you might been listening to other people too much. People make up excuses like, “they were born with it” because, they feel inadequate themselves. They are afraid to try and fail, so they never try. I believe you are ready. Do you believe you are? Even if you don’t feel like you are, you’re reading and that is a good sign this is the right time.

Now, for some of you, there is something important I have to follow up that last paragraph with. If you have tried,then why have you been stuck in the same spot for a very long time? It could be that you stopped learning, but I doubt that was your original intention. You may have stopped applying what you already know and as a result stopped learning further on the guitar. For a lot of people, once they “know” something they think they have it all figured out and it should just magically work. Everyone does this from time to time, but some do it a lot. Don’t be that kind of guitarist. The greats all had mentors, teachers, or they were asking the greats before them for the answers. Walking in their footsteps as close as humanly possible; immersing themselves in greatness and finding it rubbing off on them.

Getting deeper – the next steps toward a breakthrough

I imagine and hope that at this point in the article you are thinking a little about the journey you’ve taken, the progress you made, when you made it, and when you had pitfalls. If you aren’t thinking about it, then stop for a couple minutes and think about it. Write these thoughts down. All the details, dates, and correlations they have to one another. I say write it down so, you see it with your eyes and refer back to it in the future. It wouldn’t hurt to start a guitar practice journal of your journey. Not the kind of journal where you pour out your feelings(you can do that if you want), but a journal where you keep a record of your progress. There is value in seeing that what you’ve been doing is or ins’t working. Looking at the journal can jar you a little. It will let you know your inconsistencies in discipline to practice. It will show you that you should probably change up your routine or get a routine. If you want the truth, it’s going to hurt a little. You have to be honest in it. If you’re not then you are lying to yourself. Write down why you were progressing or not. Do you have a guitar teacher? Do you practice guitar everyday? How long are you practicing guitar? What are you practicing? Do you play with other musicians? Etc.

One of the overlooked keys is mentioned above, but not clearly explained. I needed to preface it to clearly relay the value of this key. Some common words will give this clarity; humble and hungry. Hungry? Yes, hungry. When you are hungry enough you will find food and certainly eat it. If you want to be a great guitar player as much as you want to eat when you are hungry then you will get better. A humble or teachable person is not someone who belittles themselves, but someone who acknowledges their inadequacies and sees the opportunity to learn from others and does learn it for life. Now, I’m sure you’re openminded and that’s good, but lets go beyond that. What is even better is someone who is humble and hungry. I say both of those to bring out a perfect match. A humble person is willing to learn and a hungry person is dying to learn and will learn to the point of it being permanent. Knowledge can be like a map, but it’s not the journey. As you go on the journey you will grow so much more. Imagine a person looking at a map and saying that they’ve been everywhere on it. You’d call them a liar. Let’s make sure we are not lying to ourselves.

Now I said a key was mentioned above. I touched on it earlier, “once they “know” something they think they have it all figured out. A humble and hungry person is always looking. Sometimes we fall for the trap that knowledge is the answer. What we often overlook is the foundation or basic skills of our playing. For example someone might learn chords, the pentatonic scale, etc. and think they know them and that’s all that’s needed. Lets get to the sweep picking! Why? Is that all there is to music? certainly not. I love sweep picking as much as any metal fan, but if you can’t play the basics exceptionally then sweep picking isn’t going to happen. Or you will be a one trick pony. Have you ever tried to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and make it sound passionate and moving? Probably not, because it’s a children’s song and it’s pretty easy to learn and play. I use this song to challenge you. You probably don’t connect with it personally unless it reminds you of the safety of childhood you felt as you learned to sing it with Mom. Pick up your guitar and start playing it without rushing through it. Play it perfectly. Play it passionately. Really mean it and see how it will sound different. If you can record yourself the first time you play it and after you’ve worked on it.

SUMMARY – The 2 Keys

Mental Attitude

Stay humble and hungry; don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know something because you have knowledge of it.

Practical Physical Application

Take the knowledge you have and make it yours forever. Do this through taking the basics you’ve learned and making them so permanent that they sound flawless and pristine while still being personal

Once you can do this then you can move forward to the next level and repeat the process. Think of a car. Everyone always sees and loves the looks, but if the engine is thrown together without precision then it’s a lemon. Don’t be a lemon guitarist.