10 Steps to Being a Better Guitar Player

All guitar players want to get better as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there is no magic pill we can take.  Getting better on the guitar takes hard work and dedication.  You can shorten that time it takes though.  Here are 10 things you can do to be a better player right now.
1.  LISTEN….Everyone wants to become a better player but most sit and play their songs and exercises over and over but don’t really listen to what they’re playing. They just play the same mistakes and sloppiness over and over. By taking your time and slowing things down and really listening to your self play you will start to realize the elements you need to improve your playing. You need to know your weaknesses to improve them. When your ears hear what needs to be done your fingers will react.
2. PRACTICE SMART NOT HARD….Don’t practice what you already know practice what you don’t know and what you need to improve on.  You need to think of the techniques or musical pieces that you are not proficient at and set your goals to learn these in your practice sessions. By making your weaknesses strengths you will become a better player.
3. RECORD YOURSELF….After you have practiced a piece or technique for some time record yourself playing it. It doesn’t have to be a recording studio session just a small recorder or boom box so you can hear yourself back. By listening back you will hear things a bit different then when you are playing. Recording yourself will open your ears up to your playing weaknesses.
4. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES… Be your own worst critic and when you play something that is not completely correct know what it is and learn from it. Find the cause and plan how to create a different result.
5. BUILD SPEED IN SMALL INCREMENTS…Build your speed up gradually.  Don’t try to shred through pieces or songs as fast as you can before you have clean technique. Everyone wants to have speed but without technique you are just playing fast and sloppy. Use software like Riffmaster Pro to slow pieces of music down so that you can play along with it and slowly increase the tempo as you become more comfortable with it. Music is not a sport it is an art form and it won’t get judged by how many notes you play but by how much you can make a few notes have meaning.
6. USE YOUR BODY CLOCK…Practice moving your body to the music as you play, whether you tap your foot, move your head, jump up and down, or sway back and forth. By getting your body to be the rhythm keeper you will vibe more as a player, it will show in your phrasing and creativity.
7. LISTEN TO OTHER GENRES OF MUSIC…Don’t be closed minded to other styles or genres of music. Almost every great musician has taken a few influences and combined them to create their own style.
8. PLAY FOR OTHERS…I know this is difficult for some but this is a very important part of getting to the next level. When you have a song or piece completed start with a person you are very comfortable with and perform it for them.

9. CREATE A PRACTICE ROUTINE AND PLAY CONSISTENTLY…This may be the most important thing on this list.  Set a daily practice schedule with a well thought out practice routine.  Some students think that they can miss four days of playing and practicing and practice 3 hours one day to make up, this is a misconception. Set up a daily practice schedule that you will be able to keep.
Repetition is the mother of skill and with daily practice you will become a great player.  I offer a free practice log that you can use to help create your practice routine.  Not sure how you should design your practice routine?  Here is a guitar practice assessment that you can take to see if you are setting up your routine correctly.  If you really need help, use a program that helps you design your routine based on your strengths and weaknesses such as an automated practice routine generator

10. DON’T GET FRUSTRATED…Guitar is not an easy instrument and there will be times that you will want to throw your instrument out the window. The best thing to do when you are feeling defeated by a piece or techniques is to take a break and either play something that you can do well for a few minutes or just put the guitar down and allow yourself to clear your mind and give your fingers a break. When you come back to that particular problem you will have a “fresh perspective” and will have a better chance of mastering it.

Be sure to check out the follow up 10 MORE Steps to Being a Better Guitar Player