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November 2012--The 4 Keys to Learning Guitar

Tuesday, November 06, 2012
I’ve been teaching people how to play guitar for years and over those years I’ve seen that there are four main keys to learning how to play the guitar and reaching your musical goals.  Each is important and without all four you won’t reach your musical potential  and be the guitarist you could be.

1) Inspiration. Inspiration is the fuel that powers the engine of practice.   It takes a lot of fuel to power a rocket past the bounds of gravity – so it is with inspiration and the musician.  Practicing is hard work and it will quickly become dry and discouraging without the constant fuel of inspiration.  Do whatever it takes to keep you inspired to play – go to concerts, buy some new music, keep up with your favorite guitar magazine, blog, or artist or take a trip to the local music store.

2) Instruction. Get good instruction and work hard at it.  Your musical life is too short to waste on poor instruction, bad instructors, and a steady diet of the guitar instruction “junk food” of endless tips, quick videos, an intro here and a guitar riff there.  Any serious musician will tell you, a small amount of practice time powered with good instruction will get you farther than 6 months of hit and miss learning with a bad instructor.

3) Application. You’ve got to have an outlet for your playing. STOP!!!!  Re-read that sentence.  There are some things that can only be learned on the bandstand – in other words, playing with others.  Sure, it’s embarrassing and you won’t know what to play but conquering through that emotional barrier is a vital part of your musical development.  As soon as you learn ANYTHING, then figure out a way to apply it in a musical setting.  If you can’t apply a concept in a real musical setting, then don’t waste your time learning it.

4) Effort. Learning guitar playing skills is not about what you dream about or what you say is important, it’s about what you do.  The ONLY thing that will get you where you want to go musically is in your practice times.  Different people may have a head start through a degree of natural talent. But, eventually, every musician has to walk through the door of effort to get better at their craft.  I walked through the halls of a prominent music school and a faded piece of paper hung outside the music professor’s door that read “Hard work will always beat talent, especially if talent doesn’t work hard.”

If you have all four of these keys working in your guitar learning journey then you will go far.  But, if you see that one of these keys is lacking then look for ways to improve in that area and then watch to see how far you can progress.  Keep up the great work!  - Steve
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