We can be good at any skill if we learn and practice systematically.
Anyone can learn to play the guitar at a proficient level if they know the correct method.
In this post, we will talk about tips on how to learn guitar effectively and be able to learn and grow on your own in 5 simple steps.
If you’re ready, let’s get started.
Step #1: Understand Your Guitar
Before we start, we should have our own guitar.
Moreover, we should have a basic understanding of the instrument.
The basic parts of an acoustic guitar are the following:
The is the largest part of the guitar.
It is the major and closest part of the guitar resting on our body. Four smaller parts are the following:
Bridge is the other end where the strings are locked and supported by the saddles.
It works like the nut at the neck of the guitar placed at the bridge. It defines where the playable part of the strings end.
It amplifies the sound of an acoustic instrument. In an acoustic guitar it comes in different shapes but the traditional one is the round hole.
It can also be called scratchplate. The pickguard is kind of self explanatory – It guards the guitar’s finish from being scratched by the pick when playing.
Another major part of the guitar. It is where the string runs to the head. You place your left hand in the neck to press the strings. The neck can be divided into three parts:
It is where you put your fingers to produce notes like keys on the piano. It is placed directly under the strings marked to indicate what notes you are playing.
Frets or fret wires are the thin pieces of metal at the fretboard that defines your notes.
Located between the middle of the neck and the head, the nut also defines the playable part of the strings like the saddles.
It comes in different shapes and sizes depending on the brand. The head is where the string ends held by the tuners.
This is where your strings are attached. You twist this pegs to tune your guitar.
A string instruments will be useless without it. It is what we strum or pluck to produce sound.
Now that we have learned the basic knowledge about our instrument of choice, our journey to learning to play the guitar will begin with step #2.
Step #2: Finger Warm Ups and Stretching
For beginners with literally no experience, it will be hard to play or even make a decent sound with the guitar. Finger inflammation is inevitable for the first few weeks of continuous practice.
Experienced guitar players have developed a thicker skin or a callus on the tip of their left-hand fingers due to years of practice. These callus are very essential for making the guitar sound better and for longer finger stamina.
Stretching, like any part of our body, will help our fingers be more agile.
After two weeks of continuous practice, you’ll get used to that little pressure on your fingers when pressing the strings.
Step #3: Hone Your Listening Skills
Learn Guitar Notes
Learning notes will be easier on the piano since all the keys are already laid in front of us. I recommend learning the notes this way and listening to it very well.
After knowing the names of all the notes (there are only twelve technically) “transfer” this basic knowledge to a guitar fretboard.
You don’t have to memorize every one of these notes on your guitar. This will simply be your guide as you learn your chords.
Learn to change strings and tune your guitar
It is important to learn how to take care of our own instrument. Cleaning and polishing your instrument is easy, but we also need to learn how to change the strings of the guitar.
The standard tuning of the guitar is EADGBE
Tighten the tuning pegs to raise the tone. Loosen to lower.
This part can be done while, at the same time, strengthening your fingers. You can do both simultaneously.
Step #4: Play Melodies and Chords
Once your fingers are ready and you have basic knowledge with music and notes, we are now capable of applying what we’ve learned in the previous steps.
Try Playing Nursery Melodies
We are taught nursery rhymes when we are kids. They are introduced to us while we learn how to singing as a kid. Why not use it to learn an instrument?
Easy melodies will subconsciously put us in the right rhythm without realizing that we are actually making a effort to learn.
A simple happy birthday or twinkle twinkle will open a lot of doors in our capacity to develop on our own.
Learn a New Chord Every Day
Chord charts are available online. As an added information, all chords are made of three notes. These are called triads. If you’d notice, there are similarities in these chord shapes.
There are patterns in these chord shapes. Realizing them will make it easy for you to understand how chords work and how they are related to each other.
Basic strumming and rhythm (with and without pick)
It does look and sound easy but it is not. Strumming requires focus and care. Some players strum really hard at first, which actually hurt both the instrument and their fingers.
Learn to control the force you put in your right hand when strumming. You can hear the notes clearer and better. That way, developing a better sense of rhythm will be easier.
Usually, some beginners think that guitar rhythm just means you have to strum the guitar up and down, but in reality, there are patterns in strumming as well.
These patterns are important at first to develop an instinct in rhythm. As you go along learning the guitar, players don’t usually think about rhythmic patterns anymore. It just comes naturally as long as you know the basics.
Try Playing Chord Progressions from 2 to 4 Chords
This is the next big challenge and this is where it gets frustrating sometimes. Changing chords might take some time because our fingers are still stiff and we are not used to chord changes while playing in rhythm.
But with enough patience and practice, you’ll get to play in sync with your both hands. The key is to think of the incoming chords ahead so you can act instantly and won’t miss it.
At this point, you can already play the guitar.
Step #5: Progressing Continuously on Your Own
Learn a Song
Where else are we going to apply all that we’ve learned up to this point? Learning a song will validate our skill level.
It will be a great sense of achievement when we can play a song from start to finish.
Plucking or Fingerpicking is more complicated than just strumming since you’re not targeting the whole set of strings here.
Using the tip of your right fingers, you target a single string to be played alone or together. This skill is mostly applied in ballad genres to somehow imitate piano playing.
Like the previous step, try playing 2-4 chords in plucking before applying it in a song.
Learn Music Theories
Learning music theories will help you have a deeper understanding of what you have learned so far. You will learn about the relationship of each chord, its chord families, how major and minor chords affect the music, and many more.
The most basic and the foundation of all theories is the scale. Scale is a collection of notes you are allowed to use in a certain key.
In the music language, it is the Do-Re-Mi and so on. This theory is useful in beginners and even advanced musicians.
Learning the scales will open doors for deeper, much more complicated theories and a more amazing skill set if you wish to develop further.
Learning theories in music will make you more proficient in its language and everything will make more sense.
Find More Challenging Songs to Learn
We are not going to improve if we don’t challenge ourselves. Plain and simple.
There are always more complicated songs to take our skills to the next level. Study it in application of what you’ve learned in your theory lesson.
Try to learn songs with 5-10 chords with short solos.
Keep on Practicing
Your musical knowledge is growing and your playing skills need to develop further.
At this point, what you’ve learned is just a small fraction of what is music in totality. Every time you practice, you discover something new about what you’re doing.
No matter how small of a step you take, your skills are improving.
Rest is Important!
It is ok to feel exhausted and frustrated in practicing. That is an inevitable part of the learning process. What is important is that you don’t stop.
You can rest for a while when you feel like you are hitting a wall.
Realign your thoughts and realize what’s wrong and what needs improvement. This will make your practice sessions more efficient and productive instead of just practicing without a system.
Keep Striving for Improvement
You are now learn how to improve on your own.
Always have a positive mental attitude in all the things that you do. Always be passionate about learning new stuff in your craft to keep on being a better player and well-rounded musician.
Always remember to find and stick to a good training system on what you want to learn in order to be as effective and efficient as possible.
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