How Do I Improve My Guitar Playing?

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The simplest answer to the question of how do I improve my guitar playing is practice. Yes, we heard these 3 words enough “Practice, practice, practice”. We know and are all guilty of not doing enough. But when we do play or practice, how do we ensure we’ll improve? Is there a strategy how to practice such that it’ll improve our guitar playing?

Of course, there are so many ways to do it. But most of the time, it’s very technical. I believe highlighting those technical requirements stresses more than help. My last post is about setting the right goals to improve our guitar playing and maybe that didn’t help.

So today I want to give you my take how I improve my guitar playing in a very not technical way. You’ll be surprised, a lot of these tips don’t even involve playing. I believe the song, knowing and listening to it is a big key to unlock this. So here are my recommended ways how to improve our guitar playing.

1. Establish Liking Your Basics

Modern western music essentially consists of only 7 notes (or 12 at most). Master these 7 notes., eg. A to G.

Know intimately what is 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 note of a song?

What is Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti?

Learn to like those notes as every scale and chords are built on those few notes.

Also learn your major scale and chords. Enjoy playing them. If you enjoy the basics and use it for the most basic of songs (for example”Ba Ba Black Sheep” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. You’ll most definitely improve your guitar playing.


Discover the joy of playing your first song


2. Get Your Confidence To Play Way Up

You have to be sure that there is a music or song, you want to play. A lot of players develop a fantasy of wanting to be a guitar player but do not have a song or music they want to play. It’s not sustainable. It is like for example to want to be a teacher but not passionate about imparting anything specific to the students.

The song and music you want to play is key.

Not only that, but that song has to be ‘you’. You have to own the music before you can get your confidence right.

So many times we play other people’s songs and we imagine we can play it like them. But in all honesty, we can’t and shouldn’t be able to.  Our confidence gets affected.

Get your confidence right in that you have picked a song that is personal to you and that you can call your own. And then believe you can bring it out … your own way. And that’s the basis of the confidence you need.

You are not doing to do it any other way other than your way.

3. Invest In Feeling the Music First Before You Play It

Feel the song by studying it. By studying it, I don’t mean with your intellect or your mind. I mean just listening to it and feeling it.

If you know how the song affects you, you will know how to play it to affect other people. Knowing what is the impact you want to bring across is crucial to playing. So invest in feeling the song first.

One of the strategy of learning to play is to listen to as many versions of the song as possible. I’ve listened to at least a dozen version of Autumn Leaves before I learned to play it. And my guitar playing improve as I feel the music I play (with the guitar) with.

So yes, If the song moves me, I’m ready to invest to play it.

4. Ask How Do You Play The Music Without Using A Guitar

Not yet. Hang on to the guitar first. There is one more step that is still not about the guitar playing yet. It’s still about the song and how you play it without a guitar.

Ask yourself how do you play it if you don’t have a guitar? Maybe you can sing it just with a metronome or a beat. Maybe you can accapella it. Or swing to it with just your body.

It is always good to know the tune and able to hum it or sing it before you start to play it. If you have another way of playing it without the guitar, how will you do it.

I always have a cajon, or a rhythm machine or even a metronome ready to play the song without the guitar.

5. Now With The Guitar, How Should You Play It Better

Now, with a song that you know, feel and are able to play without a guitar, you can bring your guitar into the picture.

With the guitar, explore if I should strum it, pick it, or just tap on it to add to the song you already have in you.

This is a tough part as you will explore the chord progression or the notes to the song. You’ll spend time here but if you do the first few steps, you’ll going to improve how you play already by a mile.

6. Play It Like No Other People

With the guitar, just play it like yourself. Don’t try to imitate anybody. Just be yourself and let the guitar be the instrument you were never born with and never had.

Now that you have it, make it a worthy extension of you. Play with your style and don’t let anyone judge you for how you play it.

What do you think? Does the article help you? If so great, if not, how do you improve on your playing?

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10 thoughts on “How Do I Improve My Guitar Playing?

  1. Karthik

    There is some unique information in here. Really nice. I’m guilty of trying to play like other people and imitating. I guess I’ll need to trust myself more on the wayI naturally play. Thanks

    Reply
  2. Matthew Owen

    My 11 year old son has just started learning to play the guitar and he wants to give up already as he can’t get the hang of it. I have just made him read this article and he is upstairs as we speak going through the chords that you have shown so i thankyou for this as the guitar wasn’t cheap and I didn’t want him to quit so easily.
    Cheers

    Reply
    1. HT Post author

      All the best helping your son. The learning journey may be long but he can really enjoy the journey if he make things simple. Focus on the 7 notes. The 3 chords and focus on simple songs first and do it his way.

      Reply
  3. James Crabtree

    I like this article it is very insightful. When I first started started learning how to play the guitar I found it very hard to get the basics down first. I even ended up losing hope. If I had have had this article back then it would of helped so much and I would not of struggled so much (vision).

    Reply
    1. HT Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Hope one day you can pick it up again! It’s never too late to start again.

      Reply
  4. Irischelle Meneses

    This is a really unique article. It’s very helpful and I can sense how passionate you are about guitar playing. I honestly want to play the guitar because it’s one of the most beautiful sounding instruments ever. Hopefully, in the not-so-distant future, I will be able to invest more time on it. Your tips are really useful and very different from other musical tips. Great job! I loved how you emphasized on being true to oneself and feeling the music coz that’s where the soul in playing instruments come from! 😀

    Reply
    1. HT Post author

      Thank you. Yes passionate since very young. Glad you like the article and hope you can one day get back into playing an instrument. It may not be a guitar. Maybe a harmonica, drums or simply a triangle. The key thing is to be musical and let the tools express that music that is in you.

      Reply

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