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20 quick actions you can do today to become a better guitar player

Is it possible to become a great guitarist overnight?

Definitely not.

The road to mastery is a long and winding road. But even though you cannot become great overnight, you definitely can and should become better than yesterday. That’s all you need to do. Become better today than you were yesterday.

To make it easier for you, below are 20 actions that you can do today to become better, more accomplished guitarist. No matter how busy you are today, pick at least one action and do it.

Make today a day that will change your guitar playing forever.

#1 Sit down and play (0 minutes)

Seriously. Stop talking that you don’t have time, energy or talent. Aren’t you already tired of that? Instead, dust off your guitar, sit down and play. This is the best way(and in fact the only way) how to become a better player. No more excuses. Take action.

#2 find a guitar teacher (15 minutes)

Do you feel stuck, frustrated or overwhelmed? Do you have questions but no answers? Is your progress slow?

Here is the solution: Find a guitar teacher and arrange your first lesson. A good teacher can help you to fix your bad habits, improve your technique and solve your musical problems.

#3 change your strings and get your guitar set up (2 – 3 hours)

Your instrument needs to be in a perfect condition, it is your “workhorse” – you have to take care of it. Low action and new strings can make wonders. Take your guitar to a local music store and get a nice set up. It is a good way for increasing your motivation without buying a new guitar.

#4 find a jamming buddy

Ask your friends if they don’t know somebody how also plays, go to a local music store and ask there. Try to find somebody who is at your level or somebody who is little bit better than you. You can jam, practice together or teach each other new stuff.

#5 dust off your metronome and use it (1 minute)

I know you have one. Almost every guitarist have one but only few actually use it. Metronome is the best thing to improve your timing. And I think music is all about keeping time, isn’t it? If you don’t have metronome use this one.  (although I would suggest to use regular one so you don’t have to turn on your computer every time you need a metronome.)

#6 set your musical goals (30 minutes)

Setting a goal gives you a direction, it helps you clarify what is important and what is not. Set one ultimate goal for your music carrier and then work backwards until you find actionable steps that you can do today. Don’t worry about your big goal, the journey is much more important. You are a work in progress forever. Focus all your attention to finish today’s goals and then do the same tomorrow.

#7 find your reason why (15 minutes)

Why are you playing guitar? Why did you start? What is your reason? What do you want to accomplish? What do you expect? Spend a few minutes answering these questions. Be honest. Remember: If your why is strong enough, you can overcome any obstacle. What matters is that your reasons make sense to you. They need to be genuinely yours. You don’t need to care about what other people think of you. When the going gets tough, when you feel like giving up, you need to revisit all your reasons why and they can give you that extra push that you need.

#8 join a guitar forum (5 minutes)

Don’t have money for a teacher? Join a guitar forum, make friends with members and ask your questions. People are usually very happy to help. Joining a guitar forum doesn’t cost you anything but can bring you a great benefits. If you don’t know where to start, try these:

JustinGuitar Forum: http://justinguitarcommunity.com/

Guitar Noise Forum: http://www.guitarnoise.com/forums/

The Gear Page Forum: http://www.thegearpage.net/

#9 start reading a bio of famous musicians (30 minutes)

Go to a library or buy a book or an autobiography of somebody who inspires you. You can find also some good articles online. Read at least one chapter. Find out how your favourite musicians approached music, what problems did they have, how much they practiced etc. Remember: Knowledge is a power, especially when you apply it.

#10 create a practice schedule (30 minutes)

Most people practice guitar without ever creating any plan. But it is not enough to sit down and play if you want to become great guitarist because you will usually end up noodling the same old tunes that you already know for years. There is no progress in this type of practicing.

What you need to do is create a practice schedule that will lead you to your goals and dreams.

Ask yourself:

What can I do today to fulfill my musical goals?

What can I do today to become a better guitar player?

What can I do this week to grow as a musician?

And once you have answers, you can create a schedule for today. You need to do this also for every week and every month. Spend some time every week to create your schedule and then once in a month analyze if you are moving in the right direction. No matter how imperfect your plan is, it is better than no plan at all.

#11 Buy a ticket for a concert (10 minutes)

Going to concert to see great guitar players and great bands play is always a beautiful experience that inspires me to practice more, learn more and play more. Don’t miss the opportunity when a great band plays in your city. Go ahead and buy a ticket today!

#12 start a song ideas journal (10 minutes)

A song ideas journal is a great way to boost your creativity. Record every good riff, lick or chord progression that you come up with. Don’t try to make it perfect, just record it as it is. There will be days when you won’t feel inspired and creative. Then you can pick one idea from your journal and start working on it.

#13 turn off facebook, twitter, tv … (2 minutes)

Turn off all distractions. Your practice time should be sacred. It is your “me time” when you are fulfilling your dreams. Don’t let anything or anybody to disrupt you. Facebook won’t make you a better player. So treat it like that. If you want to succeed, you have to prioritize.

#14 explore new musical style

If you are tired of playing rock or metal all the time, try to learn some jazz or country or any other musical style that you like. You don’t need to become pro in that style but having a basic understanding of typical chord progressions, licks and guitar techniques can freshen up your playing a lot. Pick one song today and try to learn as much as you can.

#15 join a band (15 minutes)

Browse the web and find some local band that is looking for a guitarist. Contact them and ask if you can join them for the next rehearsal. Don’t wait, do it today.

#16 revise what you have learned (60 minutes)

Don’t feel like learning something new today? That’s ok, revise what you have learned in last month. I think people usually spend too much time learning new stuff and they forget to revise it to really get good at it. We need to spend enough time with every musical idea so it becomes part of our playing. Moving too fast from one concept to another makes your playing sloppy because you don’t have enough time to deeply understand it and apply it in real musical situation.

#17 Accept that you are going to fail (5 minutes)

No matter how hard you try, you are going to make mistakes. You are going to make bad decisions and do wrong actions. But by know you know that there is no failure, everything is just another experiment. Spend some time sharpening your thinking and developing progress oriented mindset.

#18 Stop noodling (0 minutes)

Mindless noodling is a killer of your progress on guitar. Usually we have very limited time for practicing so we have to make most out of it. We need to focus on improvement of some tiny piece of our playing everyday. This is the only way how to become good.

#19 Record yourself

Do you want to instantly improve your playing? Then record yourself. It is the best way to discover your accuracy, timing, feeling and every other musical aspect of your playing. Listen to your recording as if it wasn’t you who is playing. Try to be as objective as you can. Don’t judge, just analyze. What is good? What needs improvement? Write down everything that you are not satisfied with and then start working on it. Try this free software for recording.

#20 Create something

I think guitarist usually spend too much time practicing and forget to create something. Music is about communication and expression. Express yourself through music. Create a song or a riff.  Use your skills that you have been perfecting for so long. Now is the time.

Thanks to Adam Baker and Corbett Barr for the inspiration for this post’s format.

Photo by Zdenko Hanout

 

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One Response to 20 quick actions you can do today to become a better guitar player

  1. Trang Nguyen January 25, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    Having a friend who can play guitar definitely helps me. I learn quite a lot from him and jamming together is always fun. Also, practice does make perfect!

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