How To Discover The Best Guitar Learning Materials
Are you having a hard time knowing what you should practice on guitar despite being bombarded with hundreds of new guitar exercises every day? Do you struggle with deciding which of the thousands of guitar learning materials, videos and lessons to focus your practice time on? Would you have an easier time learning to play guitar if you knew precisely what you must practice to get the results that you want?
From teaching hundreds of guitar players over the last twenty-five years, I have found that most musicians do not have a shortage of “things to practice” on guitar. The problem that I see many guitar players run into is not knowing how to organize all of their guitar exercises into an effective guitar practice schedule that moves them towards becoming better musicians. If this sounds like you, then I want to show you how to determine what you need to practice on guitar to improve your musical skills in the fastest way possible.
The first significant mistake that guitar players make with regards to guitar exercises is practicing “too many” of them. As a result, too much energy is spent trying to decide (at random) what exercise to play next, instead of concentrating on getting the most benefit out of each exercise being practiced. In reality, you can very often achieve a lot more by intelligently focusing on a smaller, targeted list of guitar practice materials than you can from a longer list of guitar exercises that are put together at random (more on this in a moment).
Another reason why guitar players struggle to make progress with all of their guitar practice materials is because they make the mistake of starting to look for “things to practice” before becoming clear on why they need to practice guitar exercises in the first place. Keep in mind that guitar practice materials can only make your guitar playing better when they are practiced with a specific objective in mind. Mindlessly playing through guitar finger exercises will not make your guitar playing any better until your mind is clear on several things:
- The “precise” guitar playing skill (or problem) that you are attempting to improve by practicing a given guitar exercise.
- Your long term guitar playing goals and how the exercise you are working on will help you to get closer to becoming the musician you want to be.
It is critical to keep in mind that guitar exercises are only important for you to practice if they help you to develop a specific guitar playing skill or to solve a specific problem. The more specific you can become about what you are trying to achieve, the easier it will be to determine the most effective guitar practice materials for reaching that goal. For example, instead of saying: “I want to fix my sloppy guitar playing”, you need to pinpoint a problem precisely such as: “I need to learn how to mute unwanted string noise that comes from the strings I’m not playing when I play three-string arpeggios”. Most guitar players never develop the level of clarity needed to benefit from their guitar practice materials and instead assume that the solution to their problem is to find “new and better” guitar exercises to practice. This leads to a never ending cycle of frustration and slow progress.
If you are feeling frustrated from not knowing which guitar exercises to focus your practice time on, ask yourself the following question: “what skill is this exercise helping me develop or what specific guitar playing problem am I trying to solve by practicing this exercise?” If you can’t answer this question, then here are five critical things you must do to get more from your guitar practicing:
- Clearly define your long term guitar playing goals.
- Find out what musical skills you must develop in order to achieve the long term result that you want. To help you do this critically important step, study this free resource about how to learn to play guitar.
- With the clarity you have achieved from doing Steps 1 and 2 above, it will now be much easier to narrow
down your guitar practice exercises to those that are very specific to your guitar playing challenges. Do this to prepare yourself for Step 4.
- Design a highly effective guitar practice schedule containing the guitar exercises you have selected in the previous step. Organizing your guitar practice time in the most efficient way possible will require some experience to be done correctly. If you need help with doing this, read this page on how to build a guitar practice schedule.
- Keep your mind actively engaged the entire time you are practicing. You must always stay focused on the specific objective you are trying to achieve and never let your fingers go on autopilot while practicing. As your guitar playing improves and you get more experience, you will find that very often you can use a single guitar exercise to develop multiple guitar playing skills at the same time (check out this video on how to practice guitar for an explanation of this concept).
When you begin to implement the above steps into your guitar practicing, you will find that the process of reaching your musical goals will become a much easier and more enjoyable experience.
If you take guitar lessons with an experienced guitar teacher, you should already be familiar with how to structure your guitar practice sessions with these ideas in mind.
However, if you are struggling with knowing what to practice on guitar, implement the ideas from this article into your guitar playing and you will begin to see your guitar playing improve faster than you ever thought possible!