Although it might sound easier, learning to play guitar without the trained eye of a teacher can leave you with a higher chance of learning bad habits and poor technique. And the longer you play with those bad habits, the longer it may take to progress. In order to combat these beginner guitar mistakes, the best thing to do is work with a private teacher who can help you identify them. Many of these simple mistakes have less to do with specific techniques, so they’re often overlooked.
There are however, some “quick fixes” you can start working on to instantly improve your playing. Here are a few to start working on before it’s too late, as featured on Guitarnoise.com:
1. Worry more about posture than looking cool.
Playing well starts with paying attention to the basics. And nothing is more basic than how you hold the guitar, whether you’re sitting or standing while playing. Whenever you’re having trouble playing a chord cleanly or making a switch from one chord to another, you can often correct this by simply correcting your posture or position while holding your guitar.
2. Strum with the wrist, not the whole arm.
Keeping the beat and playing steady, confident rhythms is essential for any guitarist, even those who only want to play leads and solos. But most beginners, especially those who’ve only seen guitarists on videos, think that strumming involves an incredible amount of energy and a wild flailing of the arms. Nothing could be further from the truth.
3. Get rid of your chord charts as soon as you can.
The sooner you memorize your basic major and minor chords, the sooner you can dispense with chord charts and as soon as you do that you’ll find that you have more time to enjoy playing! There will always be new chords to learn, but do your best to memorize all the chords you’ve played as soon as possible. And the best way to do that is to practice chord transitions.
4. Use your ears instead of your eyes.
Music is aural, not visual. Professional musicians will invariably tell you that listening and ear training is the most important talent for any player to develop. Rhythm is something you feel and hear. Relying on your eyes to tell you when a chord change occurs will almost always put you behind and off the beat. Work on first using, and then trusting and developing your ears, and leaving your eyes behind for a while. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start to make more progress.
5. Learn whole songs.
What would you say about a cover band that only played the first few bars of every tune they started? Would you pay to see Neil Young play just the start of “Cinnamon Girl”? Or imagine going to see Metallica and having them play only the introduction of “Enter Sandman”. People listen to musicians to hear songs, whole songs. So while it can certainly be satisfying to learn a particularly difficult introduction or guitar fill or solo, don’t settle for learning just one part of any song. The art of making music comes from playing the whole piece.
Readers: what other “simple” changes have helped your guitar playing? Leave a comment below or stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts! Like these posts? Sign up to receive updates right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe.