Can anyone become a good guitar player?
Like this guitarist that looks like everything comes to him quickly and that luck and life smile at him?
Of course, the word ‘good’ is elusive and relative. But I’m sure you can become a better guitar player.
However, I am sure that the way to do this is through three components, which for me are
the 3 guitar principles for success with the guitar (and also in every area of life) :
Mind, Method, and Practice.
Mind – A guitarist Mindset
When I say consciousness, I mean all those patterns of thinking that exist in each of us,
some of which advance us and some of them constitute a barrier or at least a hindrance.
In any case, even if we are not aware of them, they always affect us and our potential for success.
We are required to understand the reality of our lives and into what circumstance
we were born in or what the impact of all these on us is.
Disagree? Do you think you have a full consciousness or that you don’t tend to think in templates?
I hope you’re willing to test it by a few short questions I’ll address you right now:
Do you want to be a guitarist?
Do you have everything you need to get to the level of playing you want?
How long do you think it takes to reach this level?
Do you think you can learn a new instrument at almost any age?
Do you believe that other circumstances in your life would make you play better than your current level?
Do you think you don’t have enough time to practice?
Now my questions to you is this:
Did you know how to answer these questions unequivocally? How safe were you in your answers?
In many conversations in which I tell what I do for a living, the following responses arise:
“How fun you’re doing what you love.”
“I wish I had time to play.”
“Once I took some lessons and stopped because I thought it was easier than it was.”
“I do not have musical talent.”
And of course the eternal question:
“Can you make a living from it?”
And you, what about you? Do you want to be the guitarist you dream of?
Many of my guitar students think that to reach a certain level, to play the solo guitar they dream of playing or the
song of their favorite band requires a lot of time.
In fact, it is less related to time, and more associated with the passion, willingness, and dedication
you have to fulfill your goals as a guitarist.
I would recommend reading the book “Grit” by Angela Lee Duckworth or at least take 6 minutes and watch her
lecture below, which bases her theory on her studies on how you can achieve extraordinary with a special mixture
of passion and perseverance:
How do you develop your guitar mindset? Here are some points to apply:
Find a music group, Duo, trio, full band. Whatever.
Make sure the people with whom you play dedicate themselves to that project at least like you and that you can
imagine yourself having a good time with them a few hours a week.
Play with people who are better than you in some aspect of their playing.
I learned the most significant lessons from colleagues who I played with.
Learn a practical music theory.
The emphasis is on “practical” because the theoretical knowledge is almost infinite in scope.
I would recommend you of the essential elements of harmony, voice leading, and rhythm.
Listen to music from all kinds of styles next to the one you’re already listening to.
Most often in life, when you meet more people, the more you know yourself.
In music as well – do not be surprised if far from your “comfort zone” you will find what you want.
Perform. From one person to a big audience.
You will not believe how much this will spur you and inspire you.
The piece you’ve been playing for a long time will sound richer.
It’s like you’ll suddenly notice how a two-dimensional picture you’re watching becomes three-dimensional.
Open your mind.
Before I move on to the 2nd pillar of the 3 guitar principles, I would like to tell you about a short-sighted guitar student
who has studied with me for several years.
He came to me after spending time with an electric guitar until then and wanted to study Fingerstyle, notes, etc.
He had a goal of playing Bach on the guitar.
Needless to say, he uses the sense of touch more than the sense of sight to hit the right note in the right fret on the
fingerboard. He would come to my place by public transport with a guitar on his back
and within three months we started working on Bach’s prelude.
I think more than he learned guitar from me, I learned from him what grit is.
Playing according to a proven method will save you a lot of time and frustration.
I believe you can see and hear the difference between a guitarist who has gone through a defined method
and someone who has learned from an eclectic collection of sources of information.
Yes, you can always find the story about the famous guitarist who studied by himself but,
if you look in depth you will find that he probably had a teacher or mentor
and that with a strong mind and a lot of luck he “crashed it” And actually applied the 3 guitar Principles.
I can divide my guitar playing to “Before” and “After” I went to study in Uruguay in 2007.
My teacher was Alfredo Escanda, who was the right-hand man of the famous guitarist and teacher Abel Carlevaro.
Carlevaro, who for decades built a complete method of guitar technique,
which he summarized in a book and four booklets.
My technique and my familiarity with the guitar improved tenfold.
As a result, I filled myself with more motivation, and my self-confidence improved significantly,
especially when I stood on stage.
In this day and age, you have options to find the right teacher for you who has a proven and practical method.
You can study in a private or group lesson, depending on what type of person you are, or take courses online.
In any way you choose, ask to see and hear other students of the same teacher or course
and to experience yourself in at least four lessons.
Make sure that you advance in the method, as your mind allows it, because of the technical use of it,
in the absence of proper consciousness, will hurt the results you can reach.
No matter in which method you are, you must work methodically.
Random work does produce mediocre results and every element in your learning process
must be part of a precise plan.
I remember now the anecdote I heard from a famous Russian pianist about this 2nd of the 3 guitar principles
which I can summarize like this:
“When I don’t practice one day, I feel it.
When I don’t practice for two days, my wife feels it.
When I don’t practice for three days, the audience feels it. “
Playing guitar is like training at the gym,
and there is no difference between strengthening the twin muscle and strengthening our fingers.
Just as it is not possible to strengthen muscle without systematic repetition,
there is no possibility of improving our ability to play without proper training.
It amazes me to meet now and then guitarists who think a musical technique is in contradiction to “musicality.”
I have encountered quite a few guitarists who avoid training.
They invest mainly in creating their music and as a result, sometimes come to a situation where their limited
technique influences their choice of the arrangement for their music.
Most often, they find a satisfactory solution, but in some cases, the result is not convincing.
One of your goals as a guitarist is to balance the investment in music
with the investment in mechanics/guitar technique.
Music is the outward expression of your musical world, and the technique is the transmitter,
the tool that transforms your abstract ideas from the mind into something concrete
that you and others can hear with your ears.
By the way, some guitar players reverse the same approach:
guitarists who have a proper technique and devote most of their time to sharpening their guitar skills
and abandoning their musical development. Technique and music are two sides of the same coin.
‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ — Oscar Wilde
It is vital that you have self-awareness.
On your guitar journey, you meet many other guitarists.
When you compare yourself to them, you know what you are and what you are not,
what your strengths are, what you need to improve and what you will never be.
if you wanted to play scales super fast and spent hours training and went to study with a qualified teacher
who is an authority and it did not happen, let it go and develop your natural tendencies.
And again, it’s the same balance between giving your best at improving but also knowing what to invest in.
So how do you become a good guitar player relatively to yourself?
If you follow this three principles approach of mind, method, and practice the results will not be long in coming.
You’ll enrich your musical world, and you’ll be able to convey your musical message to someone who will listen to
you in such a way as to adequately reflect the abstract ideas you have in mind.
More than anything else,
your enjoyment of the music will make your everyday life look much better.