Friday, May 1, 2015

Getting Better - Adult Edition (Updated 6/2/15)

A friend of mine asked me for some tips on how to get better.  And like many adults with jobs and families he doesn't have a lot of time. Here's what I told him...

Some thoughts on getting better on guitar.

1. Practice 5 minutes a day. That’s easy, 5 turns to 10 to 15 to 30, etc. If I told you had to practice an hour a day you’d never do it. Like me trying to get to the gym.

2. Keep guitars handy. If you have a lot of down time in what you do, make sure the guitar is out and ready to be played.

3. Dig your left thumbnail into your finger tips (pads) to toughen them up when not around the guitar. Or right if you are left-handed.

4. Your right hand should lock to the drummer’s right (HiHat) hand. (Or left if, well you know...)

5. If you are struggling with a new chord practice going to that chord from all the other ones you aren’t struggling with. For example… say F was your hard chord.

F C F G F Am F Em F E F D F Dm F etc.

… and just do one strum of each, this is left hand work not right hand. Don’t waste valuable time strumming four beats each.

6. If you want to be playing electric guitar, every now and then practice loud. Maybe when no one else is home. The guitar is a whole different animal to tame when cranked. That’s why Eddie Van Halen is so amazing because that guitar is a tamed tornado in his hands.

7. Practice standing up if you are going to be performing. The ergonomics are very different sitting than standing. Otherwise after the gig you’ll be all like “But I played so good at home.” 

8. Jam with others better than you. Like playing tennis with someone better it’ll raise your game.

9. Take a lesson every now and then.

10. Spend too much on a new guitar. Out of guilt you'll be motivated to get your money's worth.

11. Watch videos of great players to get inspired. Watch how they approach the instrument.

12. To be able to play like your favorite players, study their influences. That will give you greater insight.

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