WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRACTICING

Practising Guitar - Why It’s Important?

 In this article I'm going to write a little bit about practicing. Not normal practicing, like say, what to practice or how to practice per se, but more in a way of how to put practicing into a wider perspective of your playing and achievements of your goals.

Why do we practice in the first place?

Of course, to get better, to get good at what we (want to) do. We want to be able to express ourselves through our instrument, therefore we need some "tools" (technique) to do so.

But why do we practice?

Practising guitar how?

We practice because we feel a certain desire for playing an instrument. There's something good about the thought of us being able to play our favorite songs, solos, etc., or even if our sole purpose of learning an instrument is to make money.

We practice to achieve something that will make us feel good. That goes for a camp fire strummer as well as for a professional guitarist. But to achieve what makes us feel good, we must set our goals and know what we need to practice to achieve those goals.

Of course, you don't have to find that out by yourself, find a competent professional guitar teacher and save yourself a lot of time and frustration.  

Over practising

Right hand technique practising guitar

When we practice we tend to "over practice" the elements that are not really important for reaching our goals.

For example, some guitarists spend months of practicing two handed tapping or 6 string arpeggios, but their initial goal was not necessarily to became a shredding god.

So, they are neglecting things that are really important for what they want to play because of things they don't necessarily need. For example, when I was 15 years old, I wanted to play like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai.

But somehow I came up to the idea, that sweeping was very important for achieving that goal. So I practiced sweeping arpeggios like crazy, while neglecting everything else.

Needles to say I didn't' came much further than impressing a few kids in local music store. And even more importantly, there has been maybe 10 seconds of sweeping arpeggios in total on everything I have recorded so far in my life.

A different type of practise

With my knowledge today, I would start in a completely different place.

I would focus on my right hand technique and left hand position, learn the essentials (some scales, chords and techniques, learn the guitar neck and necessary musical theory),but then really focus on rhythmic aspects of playing and phrasing.

From my perspective today I know, that's what sets my favorite guitarists from the rest, even technically more superior players.

So, if you have a really advanced exercise, do it for (for example) 15 minutes per day, but don't overdo it.

In the end, no one is ever going to pay you to listen to you playing finger exercises.

Practising guitar lessons London

Of course, there are some exercises and some things we should put more time into (practicing bends or vibrato require more time than, say, practicing a scale sequence), but remember that you're practicing to play the music for the people. Or for yourself.

I don't know if there is anybody who started playing an instrument solely because of the money(totally legit reason, it's better playing a guitar for a living than cleaning the faucets, right?), but even if there is, everything applies the same.

Learn what you need to know to be able to do what you want to do.

 

This article was written by a professional guitar player and teacher Nejc Vidmar. He is a composer, recording guitarist, producer and professional guitar teacher, as well as author of guitar related articles.

 

Common Questions for Beginner Guitar Players Answered

 

If you are about to start learning guitar or have already started but have a few questions on your mind. The following are very common questions that we get asked a lot by beginners, hopefully reading it through to help you to get started with learning how to play the guitar.

As we’ve met a lot of beginners and helped them over the hurdle of getting started, we understand the struggles you may be going through right now. Often when you ask your friends or family, they have forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner guitar player if they have been playing a while. Getting another point of view will help you with getting the right perspective on playing the guitar.

1.    Am I too old to learn to play guitar?

Learning guitar in London

I always say that you can learn at any age, as long as you are willing to put in the work and are passionate about learning. When you are older, it can be slower because your brain develops differently, but other than that. There is no reason why you can’t start!

2.    Do I need a guitar teacher?

It depends what result you are after with your guitar playing. If you want the easiest way to learn, and make sure you can learn things correctly to save yourself from long term injuries. Then getting a guitar teacher is a great idea. On the other hand, getting a bad teacher can be worse than not having a guitar teacher at all!

If you have all the time in the world, and don’t care about your progress and happy to see how it goes, then going online or using books to figure it out is possible. Just like someone who wants to build their own bathroom, you can technically use DIY books and google how to do the whole project yourself. Or you can get a friend to help you who has done it before. Even though they may not be an expert. Or you can get an expert in have it done it professionally and quickly. It’s your choice.

It really comes down to how much your value your time and how much you love guitar, and how quickly you want to make progress towards what you want to do on the guitar.

3.    My fingers are hurting, am I doing something wrong?

guitar playing pain

Your fingers may hurt in the beginning when you learn to play the guitar. Especially if you are learning on an acoustic. After a while, your fingers will harden and build callouses to make it easier.

If you are worried about callouses looking ugly, they can do for a while, but then your skin actually softens up again.

4.    How much time should I spend practising?

Consistency and quality of your practise a lot more important than the amount of time you spend practising. You can make significant progress on as little as 10-20 minutes a day if you practise correctly.

For that reason, if you are one of our students and learn to practise properly with us, we recommend 20 minutes a day minimum to see considerable amount of progress.

5.    Do I need to learn music theory?

Music theory for guitar learning

If you would like to play with other people, do any form of song writing, being able to understand what you are playing. Then learning music theory is very helpful.

Music theory is simply knowing what things are called. So you probably are already learning it without knowing. Is just to what degree do you need to learn for what you want to do. Having a basic understanding will help you feel a lot more like a musician than the average guitar player.

6.    Should I start on an acoustic or electric guitar?

A lot of people think starting on acoustic guitar is easier. However, if you are learning how to play a steel string acoustic guitar. You may find that you can make more progress on an electric guitar. The reason for this is because the strings on the electric guitar as much thinner and therefore easier to play. That means you can spend more time practising without your fingers hurting.

If you want to play any music that’s on an electric guitar, then starting on an electric guitar may be the best thing for you as a beginner guitar player.

Fretboard guitar

7.    What should I do if I’m left handed? Can I still learn?

Of course, there are left handed guitars out there just for you. Your selection if guitars may be smaller, but you can definitely still learn!

8.    Should I use a plectrum or my fingers when I play?

This depends on the sort of music you would like to learn how to play. You can also use both, which is called hybrid picking. And also learn both fingerpicking and how to use a pick. Whichever you spend more time with, you will probably feel more comfortable with.

9.    How long does it take to learn how to play a song?

You can easily learn to play a song in your first hour of learning guitar but it won’t be a very impressive song. The better question would be asking how long it takes to play a specific song. On top of that, would you only like to play one song or have the technique so you can tackle multiple different songs?

Learning the right techniques and approach to the guitar means you can learn lots of songs easily, rather than just learn songs one after another.

10. My fingers get tired when I play barre chords?

Have you been playing guitar for a while and have started to tackle barre chords?

Playing barre chords can be tricky while you are building up the muscles required to play them. Using the right technique to prevent you from injuring your wrist as well.

Try to practise 10-15 minutes a day and don’t overdo it to build up strength in your wrist and arm to play barre chords.

I hope these top ten questions have helped you with a few things you may have had on your mind as a beginner guitar player learning to play guitar.

 

 

Do you want to make your strumming sound better on the guitar?

Do you want to make your strumming sound better on the guitar?

Do all your songs sound the same, or do you struggle to sound like the song at all? 

This problem that you are having is really common and its one I often get asked by students. They say to me "How can I get better at strumming patterns?" or "Can you teach me more strumming patterns" on the guitar. 

strumming guitar lesson acoustic

Most of the students who are struggling with this problem really just want the songs they play on the guitar to sound better and are sick of just playing one chord at a time. Or they have one strumming pattern which they use for every song, so everything sounds the same. 

So they have diagnosed the problem as not knowing enough strumming patterns. If this sounds like you - I can help you.

The first step is to acknowledge what your real goal is here with trying to learn more strumming patterns… Is it because you want to collect strumming patterns? 

Or do you really want to make your guitar playing sound better? 

acoustic strumming guitar lesson

If you just want to go and collect strumming patterns  in that case learning strumming patterns is the way to go. However, that path will likely lead to you having to go and learn a new strumming pattern for every song that you go and learn and it require quite a lot of effort to play each of the different strumming patterns because you'll be only looking at the rhythm for each and every song you work on. 

A better way to solve that problem would be to be able to work on the ability to work on any strumming pattern on your guitar by learning how to train rhythm correctly when you play. 

Observe the pattern below

 Pattern 1

Pattern 1

  1. Begin by muting your guitar strings with your fretting hand (so that we don’t get lots of extra noise. 
  2. Strum down and up with your right hand while also SAYING out loud the beat numbers at the same time.
    1. You should sound like this "One And Two And Three And Four And"
    2. All the beats should be evenly spaced in time. No gaps should be longer than another.
    3. Note how when you are on a 1,2,3 or 4 your arm is ALWAYS making a downward strum
    4. When you are on the "Ands' or the '+' you are always playing an up strum. 

Now we are going to start learning how to play more interesting strumming patterns: 

To create a new strumming pattern, all I need to do is remove downs or ups from the strumming key line.  

 Pattern 2

Pattern 2

I have put two examples here labelled pattern 1 and 2.

Make sure when you make up your own strumming patterns using the method above that you make sure that the Downs and Ups are in the right place. 

Down always on 1 2 3 4

Up always on And (+)

When you practice it you need to always be moving your hand as if it was playing down and up all the time. 

Can you see how on patterns 1 AND 2 there is nothing on the AND (+) after the 1. Even though you don’t strum through the strings here, your hand is still going to move upwards - but it will do so without hitting the strings. 

Rhythm is so important to work on and will make a huge difference to your playing. This is a great exercise to get you started right away on the guitar. 

 

 

 

For beginner guitar players, how to choose between starting on an acoustic or electric guitar?

Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

Are you wanting to learn how to play the guitar? Are you unsure about whether to start on an acoustic or electric guitar? Do you think they are both really cool, but don’t know which one will give you the edge in learning to play? Continue reading to find out the facts and how to choose between an acoustic or electric guitar.

The common myth about starting on the acoustic or electric guitar

electric guitar lessons

There is someone going around telling beginning guitar players about how to choose between an acoustic or electric, and I don’t know who is doing it, but it is totally misleading. So I want to first clarify the facts surrounding this myth so you can start your consideration process based on some solid facts.

“It is easier to start on the acoustic guitar, because that is a beginner guitar player’s guitar, and when you get good, then you get the electric guitar.”

Now this is completely not true, and I want to give you the facts on why.

When you first start playing any guitar, whether it’s acoustic or electric. The initial challenges you may face include building up your finger strength and the toughness on your fingers tips. Getting your wrists stronger. And also working out where all the frets and strings are on the guitar.

When you compare an acoustic to an electric guitar. Acoustic guitars have much thicker strings, where the electric guitar, the strings tend to be thinner. Thinner strings are easier for you to press down, and give you less pain when you play and practise.

Also the body of an electric guitar is much thinner. On the acoustic, you have this big body that you have to peer over to look at where all the frets are and strings are. You may find after a while of practise, your neck and back start to ache from this. On the electric, this is slightly easier as well.

What does this mean?

Starting on the electric guitar, you should be able to do longer periods of playing and practising because it will hurt your fingers less, and you will have less back ache and neck ache. And with more practise and playing, you should get better faster.

You might now think that it’s obvious that it’s better to start on an electric guitar considering these facts. But let’s look at why you may still want to start on an acoustic guitar instead.

Choosing the acoustic guitar first

acoustic guitar lessons

Learning the guitar is a really exciting adventure. So when you first learn how to play, you want to learn on the guitar that gets you really excited when you come home and you see it sitting there or hanging on the wall. It should make you excited to practise and learn to play new things on your new guitar.

So if you only ever want to play acoustic music, and you want to learn how to play campfire songs or do fingerstyle music only. If no part of you ever wants to touch an electric guitar, then you would want to start on an acoustic guitar. 

Make sure you get something that feels comfortable for you to play on, and more important, that you really love and gets you excited.

Do you want to learn how to solo?

If you love the idea of soloing and improvising, playing lead guitar, then the electric guitar has another advantage over the acoustic guitar. The electric guitar has more frets on the fretboard than acoustic, where acoustic often only goes up to the 12th fret, and the higher frets are over the body of the guitar, making it harder to play. The electric often has up to 22 or even 24 frets that are easily playable. So if you are wanting to lots of solo and improvisation, then having those extra frets will really give you more flexibility.

Getting both guitars one day

This is what I would recommend if you are really passionate about both. Is that one day, you should get both. I love the acoustic and electric guitar and I have several of both. I suggest getting your first guitar as an electric, just while you get started. And then getting acoustic later on.

Of course, we said before, if you have no interest in ever playing the electric, then get acoustic only. Remember to get the guitar that really excites you and makes you want to play all day long. It is your effort and practise that will really help you in making the most progress rather than having either an acoustic or electric guitar.

Are you wanting to learn how to play the guitar but don’t know where to start? Do you want someone to help you choose your first guitar? Are you wondering which direction you should go with your guitar playing to be able to do what you want on it?

There are so many variations to guitar playing and so many things you can do with it, it can be overwhelming. On top on that, there are so many resources as well. So if you want to make massive progress with someone helping you and making sure you definitely get to play the guitar the way you want to? Whether it’s playing your favourite songs, or being able to play at an open mic night. Then contact us to find out how we can help you. We are so confident that we can, that we even give you a free introductory lesson.

Click on the button below which will take you through to our contact form, so we can find out more about you and how best we can help. Look forward to speaking to you soon about what you want to achieve on the guitar.

How to Choose the Best Guitar Teacher Specifically for You To Learn How To Play Guitar Fast and Easily… And Have More Fun!

While having a guitar teacher will help you with your progress with your guitar playing. Having the best guitar teacher for you and your requirements will excel your results and progress. As we all have different needs and interest, let’s see what are some of the key things to look for to ensure you get a guitar teacher that you can learn from long term. 

What are you really wanting from your guitar teacher?

It may be that you want to play a certain style of music or there are guitarists that you really aspire to become. These are important questions to think about when looking for your next guitar teacher. Getting a guitar teacher that can help you with specifically the style of playing will help you advance in the direction you are interested in. Even though there is a lot of information that can be used in multiple genres of music. If you are driven to learn jazz, going to a metal player may not get you there as quickly as a jazz specialist. Likewise if you are wanting to learn how to sweep pick at 1000 notes per minute, going to a finger picking acoustic guitar teacher won’t help you as much.

Most teachers will likely be stronger in some areas than others. One of the key areas for beginners is that some teachers are a lot more practised at getting beginners past their initial levels compared to some teachers. So when you are researching your guitar teacher, see what they are offering or go meet them to make sure they can meet what are you are looking for.

guitar teachers for electric and acoustic guitar lessons london

How much do guitar lessons cost from the guitar teacher?

This is a question that is commonly asked, even if you are a parent looking for a teacher for your child. Like a lot of things, you really do get what you pay for. Generally, guitar teachers who are cheaper are less experienced and therefore cannot get you the same results as quickly as someone who may charge a bit more but actually gets you the same results more quickly and effectively. So for example, you may be with an average teacher for 5 years and get the same result that a great teacher could get you in a year. Therefore, in the long run, you actually save money and time going for a slightly more expensive guitar teacher who can get you better results faster and probably in a more enjoyable way of learning. 

Can you picture your guitar teacher coaching you?

Do you think you can trust and respect your guitar teacher? To the point that you will do exactly what he says? Do you believe that what he is telling you to do is what you should be doing?

The problem comes when you are having to second guess instructions that your guitar teacher tells you. If you are researching and double checking what your guitar teacher has taught you. This can really slow down your progress and hinder your progress on the guitar. The better you can follow the instruction that your guitar teacher (as long as they are a good guitar teacher), the better your results will do. The reason why you got a guitar teacher is to save you time, and so making sure you get a teacher that you can trust so you don’t waste time researching is vital to your success in guitar playing.

Is your guitar teacher teaching you how to practise the guitar?

Practising properly will make so much difference to your result and progress on the guitar. However, a lot of guitar teachers either don’t provide any instructions for how to practise the new content that you’ve learnt, or how to actually practise effectively. This would be definitely to look out for in your guitar lessons. Are they giving you instructions for what to work on that week? Are they providing instructions on what practising should look like?

There are a lot of great teachers out there will teach you how to practise properly so you get the best results and learning out of your lessons. As you generally spend more time playing the guitar on your own, it’s important that you know how to use that time effectively.

Have they got other student’s playing results to show you?

One of the things that people do when they look for a guitar teacher is looking for someone who is a great guitar player. There are several problems with this premise and is that being a good or even a great guitarist does not translate into being a great teacher. They know why things may work for them, but everyone is different and have different challenges. You want someone who knows how to teach guitar and knows how to help you overcome these challenges. Also, advanced guitar players may have forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner, so unless they have a lot of experience with beginners, it’s easy for them to forgot all the little problems to solve when you are starting to play the guitar.

Now as a beginner, it is harder to spot what makes a great musician. It is very common. Once musicians get past a certain level, you also need to be experienced to judge their musicianship. Of course, it’s very fast to get to that stage once you have a great guitar teacher helping you progress.

Meeting your potential teacher when you are researching

As we spoke about, it’s important that you trust and are confident in whoever is going to be teaching you. Therefore, meeting them beforehand is a great way of ensuring that you are comfortable with you. Arrange to meet them preferably on a one-to-one basis and find out if he can help you with what you are looking for.

More guitar tricks for beginner guitar players

In this part of the series, we are going to look at some of the challenges beginner guitar players have with their chords and strumming and on top of that look at how you can be practising your songs more efficiently so you can get more progress in less time.

How to make your chords sound better

It is very common for beginner guitar players to struggle to get their chords to sound “good”.  One of the problems they get with their chord playing is this buzzy sound. If this is something you get when you play your chords, then look at how we can resolve that.

What often happens is they get their chord shape with their fingers perfectly, and when they press down, the strings are not in contact with the fretboard hard enough. Which is what produces this sound. Now to resolve it, you can either press the strings down harder, which would be more work. Or you can try to get your fingers closer to the fret lines. This means you don’t have to put as much pressure down but you will still get a cleaner sound.

So like the image below, try to get your fingers just behind the fret lines and play. See how little pressure you can use to produce a clear sound from your chords.

Getting your strumming to sound better

We are going to look at why some beginner guitar players get this blocky-like sound when they strum. When they go up and down the guitar, it’s a strum one way and then the other. If you get this too then read on.

First of all, you need to stop thinking about your strumming hand as turning on or off a switch when you strum. Try to picture your strumming hand as a paintbrush that can vary it’s pressure and stroke to make more interesting lines on a canvas.

Try this, when you strum down, play the top three strings (4-6) slowly and then carry on through faster through the last three strings (3-1) .

When you get comfortable with that, repeat for strumming upwards as well. Going through the top strings (1-3) slowly and then quickly through the bottom three strings (4-6).

Can you hear how much more interesting this sounds already? Now try doing it up and down together.

Once you get the hang of it, try doing this with any strumming patterns that you have. It should make your strumming now more melodic, delicate and interesting.

Practising songs in a more effective way

I see a lot of beginners do this when they first practise songs, when they go through a song and they hit a mistake. They will either just carry on through or go straight back to the beginning of the song, verse or line.

 

Doing this can waste a lot of time when your mistake is at a very precise point of your playing. So let’s try to just practise correcting that mistake.

When you are practising at home, and practising through a song. Whenever you hit a mistake, try to only go to the beginner of the mistake and repeat it 20 times.

For example: for a chord change: A, E, G, D, C, G.

If you always struggle going from G to D, then just repeat going from one to the other 20 times. And then try going through the song again.

It may make your practising sound a lot less fun, but it will make your practising a lot more efficient as you are tackling your weak spot.

When you hit your next mistake, repeat this again. You will be saving yourself minutes today practising this way and hours over the next few weeks so solving the tiny bits that is holding you back from playing the song.

I hope that we have helped you solve some problems you may have been having with your guitar playing. There are lots of small things that when solved really help your guitar playing to get better.

Do You Want to Get Better At Guitar?

If you are interested in how to get better at the guitar through a fun and enjoyable way and reduce the amount of guesswork you are having to do with what you should do next to improve.

Then contact us, we are based in London and we are here to help you get the ability to play the things you really want to play and do the things you really want to be able to do with the guitar. Whether it’s jamming, playing with other people or performing. Even song writing. We want to help you achieve these things.

Click on the button below to take you through to our contact form so we can find out a little bit more about you, and because we are so sure we can help you, we even give you a free assessment lesson so we can find out what it is that you really want to do and how we can help.

 

 

 

Are You Struggling With Learning Guitar From YouTube or Books? Find Out Why:

The idea of learning guitar has attracted many to learn from their bedroom from the mass amount of resources on the internet, apps, games. However, many people are giving up soon after they start, or make little progress and end up frustrated. In this article we explore some of the reasons why this might be and why it may suit you better to learn directly from a guitar teacher.

A lack of feedback for your guitar playing

When you are learning the guitar, often learning new techniques isn’t as simple as just following some instructions. There are a lot of muscles and motion involved in your body. It is not always easy to know what you are doing yourself. So when something doesn’t feel or sound great, it’s useful to have feedback straight away to know what you are doing wrong so you can correct it. This is often lacking in online guitar lessons. Often you struggle because you are unsure of what you are doing, and become hesitate at practising it, and then get frustrated at your progress.

how to improve my acoustic guitar playing

Is the teacher or the material you are looking at right for you?   

There are so many teachers out there, how do you know who is worth listening to? There are a lot of good teachers and a lot of bad ones. So it becomes difficult and can be strenuous process trying to find a teacher that you think you want to watch videos from.

Then how are you sure that the material you are watching is the right level for where you are at? Often you get to pick the material you need, but it’s hard to determine for yourself what is useful, what you should learn first, how you build on it, how you should practise it. So many students come to us from trying to learn online with lots of gaps in their knowledge.

There isn’t someone holding you accountable

It can be a struggle to motivate yourself to practise during the week or when times are busy, or you aren’t feeling well. When you meet a teacher face to face, you have someone motivating you to encourage you to practise and to progress. They can help you with any problems you may be having as well to help you get back on track. This is the biggest reason that most people love having a teacher, is someone who is there to challenge them and help them improve their guitar playing through going to guitar lessons.

learning acoustic guitar in London

Only general information is provided

Often online guitar lessons provide very general information for the general guitar player. It doesn’t provide focus nor information that is specific to your needs, wants, and challenges.

Just like a car, you need specific information for your engine, your tyres, your exhaust. General car knowledge wouldn’t help you if your tyre has blown and you need to replace it. This is the same with your playing. You need specific information for you. This way you actually progress quickly towards what you want to do on the guitar.

Getting answers to questions you have

Besides getting feedback on your playing and what your playing is like. You may also have additional questions regarding your playing or about the guitar. Some of these questions you might not even know how to describe and may be physical questions that you need to show someone. This tend to be very difficult to do with online lessons. Whereas having someone there that you can ask and someone whom you can rely on will help you improve your understanding and playing of the guitar a lot faster and easier.

Become a great bedroom guitar player only

Perhaps you only want to play in your bedroom, or on camera. Online guitar lessons tend to get you good at playing in your bedroom only. If you want to play with other people or in front of people, then you definitely need to get out there. Learn how musicians communicate with other, how to count each other in. Little things that make all the difference to your confidence and will help you become a more rounded player.

Hopefully this guide has given you some ideas of why you may be struggling with learning the guitar online. Finding a great guitar teacher will help you solve a lot of the problems and frustrations you are having.

What Should I Do Now To Improve My Guitar Playing? 

If any of the above applies to you and you are based in East London, then get in contact to see how we can help you transform your playing! Click on the button below for your free assessment lesson where we can see where you are with your guitar playing and how we can help you improve your guitar playing and understanding.