New Year's Resolutions for Advancing Guitar Players
14 IDEAS FOR IMPROVING IN 2014
If being a better guitar player is one of your New Year’s resolutions here are some great ideas to help you accomplish that goal. Winter is here, the days are short and the nights are long. Now is the perfect time of the year to get away from the TV and spend some extra time improving your playing. (You may have read this last year but it's always a great refresher for each new year.)
1. Take private lessons-- Either Skype or in person will make you accountable to practice and motivated to improve. It’s always good to have a qualified teacher watch and hear you play, they can not only teach you but also trouble shoot your playing and set you on the right path. There is usually too much information to remember so record your lesson, so you can go back to it and work on all the points covered. Set up your next lesson date while taking a lesson so you have a deadline. Give yourself sufficient time to learn all the material, 2-4 weeks is usually plenty. Don’t give yourself too long or you’ll procrastinate and never take another lesson. For more information about Skype lessons go to http://www.guitarcollege.net/1on1lessons.html
2. Attend a workshop or conference--Our workshop alumni come back over and over again. Not only is it a fun and affordable vacation but it keeps them motivated to improve. Sharing ideas and insights with other students is also very helpful. There are local music stores or church clinics, workshops or conferences that you can attend. We hold an annual jazz workshop in Yosemite http://www.guitarcollege.net/workshop.htm. You’ll master some jazz standards then play them live with a rhythm section. We have students at many levels so jump in and enjoy the fun.
3. Get a gig--Even if it’s for free, start somewhere! You can find open mic nights or jams sessions at local coffee houses, restaurants, book stores, bars or libraries. Consider doing special music at your church or entertaining at a hospital, convalescent home or school. If you would prefer to perform with others often your community center or local college will have a band you can join.
4. Get a music buddy, group or band--Playing alone all the time can get lonely and boring. Playing with others makes you accountable to someone else and will encourage you to practice. Meet weekly or monthly, and stride to learn some new tunes together. Find another guitarist, a bass player, keyboard player, a vocalist or all of the above with musical interests similar to yours. Start a guitar club at your church or in your community. If you don’t know anyone, Craigslist and music store bulletin boards have ads for musicians and bands. You can either answer an ad or post one.
5. Practice something new—Learn something that you’ve always wanted to learn. Most players practice the same old licks, solos and songs for years and wonder why they haven’t improved. Find some learning material compatible with both your musical taste and skill level. www.99centGuitarLessons.com might have just what you need. Better to error on the side of material being too simple and mastering the piece then moving up in difficulty. Even 20 minutes a day working on something new will help your playing.
6. Teach, share what you know--There is no better way to learn than to teach. Share your knowledge with others and it will motivate you to learn more, just stay one step ahead your students. You can even make some extra cash or be a positive constructive influence in someone else’s life. Teach privately or start group lessons at church or in your community. Teach alone or with other musicians rotating instructors weekly. You can even start a guitar club and just have the group share ideas and information and jam.
7. Buy a new guitar-- Nothing makes you more motivated to play than a new guitar. Maybe you can sell some of the old guitars in the closet and get a new one. Be sure it is set up properly so it’s easy to play. Even new strings and a good set up on your old guitar can make it play like new!
8. Go see a live performance--Seeing someone playing in person in a style you like is very stimulating. Watch a local performer (or a pro performing in your area) that you admire, sit up close and take it all in. Figure out what it is you like about their playing and try to incorporate that characteristic into your playing. Ask if they offer private lessons or workshops. Influences from many players help you create your own unique style.
9. Record yourself-- Recording yourself is like looking in the mirror, the recorder doesn’t lie. You will hear exactly where you need to improve. Beware, it can also be discouraging so guard your attitude. Recording yourself is also a great way to chart your progress, you can go back and listen to earlier recordings and hear how far you’ve come. Make a CD to play for others; this will motivate you to practice. If you know someone else will be listening, you’ll work hard to play your very best.
10. Listen to lots of players--When you want to learn a new song, do some research and listen to how your favorite players interrupt it to inspire your creative ideas. It is so easy to download an Mp3 or look on Youtube to hear a variety of arrangements of the song you want to master. Again, influences from many players help you create your own unique style.
11. Practice daily-- Pick up your guitar and play some scales and exercises daily. Even while you watch TV play your guitar, you can maintain finger memory and improve your skill. Find 10 ways to practice more efficiently at http://www.guitarcollege.net/20minutes.html
12. Take a music class—You will find classes in your area at local music stores, colleges, adult education, or go online if necessary. Learn more about music. It can be a guitar, theory, piano, music ensemble, jazz, music appreciation or whatever else is available. The more you learn, the more motivated you will be to practice and you will become a better, well rounded musician.
13. Subscribe to a music magazine—There are so many music magazines you can find one that suites your musical tastes. It’s inspiring to read about musicians, learn a new lick or song and see all the new gear. Many magazines even offer free online editions, check their websites for details. BTW, Rich will be writing a regular article/lesson in the brand new Collectible Guitar Magazine. For you jazz lovers give Just Jazz Guitar Magazine a try, we think you'll like it!
14. Attend a guitar show—Guitar shows are held are yearlong all around the country. This is a great opportunity to see and hear all the different new and used guitars you might be interested in. Often you can bring your old guitars and gear and sell them or trade them in there as well. Our favorite shows are the 4 Amigos Guitar Shows www.texasguitarshows.com but there are many more to choose from. I can guarantee you’ll go right home and practice! Maybe we’ll even see you there some time.
Hope you have a great 2014
Rich and Gail Severson