Did you know more than 70% of people that start to learn guitar give up? Lots of practice and dedication are essential in improving guitar skills. However, you might lose motivation with aimless exercise, so applying the most effective methods of learning guitar should be a priority.
You can fast-track the improvement of your skills by applying specific drills and techniques. Read on to learn proven methods to ensure you quickly get better at guitar.
It is easy to overlook basic guitar theory, but deliberately paying attention to it is a sure way to speed up your progress.
As a foundation, have the finger position of each note at your fingertips by knowing the fretboard. Don’t be rash to jot down sheet music, but take time to master the note’s position in the standard tuning of a guitar.
During my initial learning of guitar music theory, one of the most valuable methods I used to recall the notes was to master the notes labeled with dots and positioned on the frets. Typically, these frets are the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th on standard guitars.
If you are a complete newbie in guitar, the best practice is to pluck each note and say it aloud. This exercise will ingrain the notes in your memory.
Try playing the low-E string, for instance:
Meanwhile, the high-E string is similar to the low-E as their notes are positioned the same.
Try out the exercise on each string, and memorize each string, on the second string:
Once you complete the drill on each string you will notice a pattern and become familiar with each note’s position. This pattern will help navigate the fretboard.
Although these basic exercises may sound mundane, you will realize that memorizing them will improve your guitar skills. Additionally, you will be in a better place to tackle the more physical and technical aspects of playing guitar.
After you grasp the positions of notes on the fretboard, you can move on to strumming. Strumming is the most critical skill you will require for playing guitar.
Unlike popular belief that most of a guitar player’s skill comes from the fretting hand, it does not matter what you do with your fretting hand without good strumming technique.
As long as you commit to regular guitar practice, it is easy to improve your strumming technique. Simply put in more practice time if you want to get speedy results. Setting aside half an hour a day will guarantee vast improvements.
It’s prudent to start with the very basics. Use a metronome to set up a tempo that you find comfortable. Then, with your strumming hand, practice four downstrokes, followed by four upstrokes.
Pay close attention to the metronome, and keep time when strumming. If you are sure you have mastered playing four upstrokes followed by four down-strokes, you can spruce up your practice by halving the number of strokes to two.
Don’t worry if you fail to stay on track with the tempo. The exercise aims not to achieve perfection but to develop the muscle memory of your strumming hand.
When you grasp playing two upstrokes and downstrokes, attempt strumming alternately. Alternate strumming means you strum down on the strings, then strum upwards with ease.
Steadily increase the metronome’s tempo as you improve in your strumming. You will soon discover significant advancements as your rhythm and coordination becomes ingrained as a habit.
Trying to position your fingers to play guitar chords can be frustrating for a learner. Many guitarists take time to achieve fretting muscle memory because they use their weaker hands.
However, you can quickly improve your finger strength and technique if you work at chord shapes for a few hours. Start with the simplest chord shapes located at the low-end of the fretboard.
The easiest chord shapes comprise
These chords are initially the easiest to learn because you don’t need to barre the strings. Barring refers to when you use your finger to press down across all strings to create a chord.
Barring can be a challenging skill due to the considerable amount of finger strength and stamina it requires. Therefore, the chords previously listed are a better option.
Work on improving your fretting. Research the finger positions of each chord shape, and execute them with your fretting hand. Practice your guitar playing until you hear the sound of each string nicely forming the chord.
Initially, you may muffle the chords as your fingers get stronger. That is perfectly normal; just concentrate on memorizing each chord as mentioned earlier and create the sound by applying sufficient pressure with your fingertips.
Practice makes perfect. Invest only twenty minutes per day practicing the positioning of a single chord until you can play it perfectly. Within a week or so, you will have a collection of chords to work with.
Once you can confidently play each chord earlier listed, then you can move on to switching between them. Like previous exercises, use a metronome to set a comfortable tempo.
In the next exercise, you will practice guitar chord progression of chords. The chord progressions consist of the ones you previously practiced but in their correct key signatures to simplify the exercise.
The above chord progressions consist of three major chords in the key 1, 4, and 5 positions. You will learn more about chord positions as you go along.
The main goal of this chord switching exercise is to ensure that you thoroughly retain your timing. Start by playing eight beats per chord, then focus on smooth transitions to the next one.
When you become confident in your transitions, shorten the length gradually, to four, then two, and finally a single beat on a chord before quickly switching to the next. This will considerably improve your finger strength, technique, and timing.
After completing all prior exercises, you should have honed your knowledge of note positions, strumming technique, finger strength, chord positions, and transitions. These skills are the foundation of playing the guitar.
Once you arrive at a good balance of them, you can move on to scales. Like previous exercises, scales may seem daunting and complex at first, but simple once you get hung of it.
A scale is a succession of notes that make up a specific key signature. In other words, when you play them over a particular chord progression, they sound “correct.” Even though there are many scales, start with the simplest: the pentatonic scales.
There are two varieties of pentatonic scales: major and minor. In this exercise, the key of A minor pentatonic is used as a guideline, but you can use any key once you understand the sequence.
Start by positioning your forefinger on the fifth fret of the low-E string; the note you create is A of A minor, also known as the “root note.” Next, position your other fingers over the following frets, ensure there are no gaps in between.
Slowly go through the scale. Do you notice anything? You will find out that you don’t need to change the position of your fingers at all. You can then develop the habit of using all of your fingers in the fretting hand.
Don’t forget about the metronome. Depending on your confidence, practice with different tempos, strum each note four times, two times, or singularly. You can then alter the position of your starting note to play a different minor scale.
I was a self-taught guitarist, and it worked out okay. But I know for a fact not getting at least one guitar lesson (or 10) stunted my progress.
It's very easy to make mistakes along the way and a quality guitar teacher will help you to fix those mistakes before they turn into habits.
You don't even have to leave your home for lessons anymore. You can get everything online now, from group lessons to guitar technique drills, song lessons, and pretty much everything you can think of.
We created a list of the best online guitar lessons. Check them out and see if you can find anything that suits where you're at in your guitar journey.
There are several frustrating moments when you first learn guitar; you might even lose your zeal during the journey. Endeavor to push through those moments; it’s just a matter of time. Eventually, you will be rewarded with newfound skills. This is especially true if you follow our rules of how to quickly get better at guitar.
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