Tuesday 31 Jan 2012
Whenever I sit down with a new guitar student, I ALWAYS ask them “what do you want to get out of your guitar lessons?” and “what goals do you have?” “To learn how to play guitar” is a very broad goal and guess what? You NEVER fully learn
I have been playing since I was 13, and several decades later I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what can be done with the guitar. Also, a goal like, “I wanna play guitar”, is like saying, “I want to travel”, but without having looked at a map, or opened a travel brochure”.
So, my job is to bring my students to their goals as quickly as possible.
However, once we have a goal in mind there are a handful of lessons that EVERY guitarist must know in order to build a good foundation.
- Posture, holding the pick and left/right hand technique is the first guitar lesson that EVERY student must learn. Even advanced players will find themselves having difficulty when these fundamentals are not established. In a nutshell:
- Hold your pick between your index finger and thumb.
- Make sure you play on the fingertips of your fret-hand fingers.
- Your body or guitar strap should be supporting your guitar. NOT your fretting hand.
- Understand that mastering the guitar is a marathon, NOT a sprint. Again, conquering the fretboard takes time. It only takes a few seconds to see that someone is a great musician, however it takes dedication and time to REALLY become a ninja, so be encouraged and pace yourself.
- Learn how to tune your guitar. Let’s say you are on a deserted island with hotties all around just begging you to play, “Stairway to Heaven”, and you’re all, “ummm, my tuner got wet when the boat wrecked…sorry…” Do you want to be that guy? Let me answer for you. NO! Okay, so you need to be able to tune your guitar without a tuner. I use tuners all the time, but there are many times that I don’t. When recording or playing with other musicians, tuning with a tuner is great, but you must know some tuning skills so that you are not ALWAYS picking up your tuner when a tuning-peg gets bumped, etc.
- Learn how to play open chords. No matter the style you play, you will ALWAYS find a use for this and 99% of the players out there will find uses for this everyday. There is a little bit of a learning curve on this, but it’s worth the effort in tackling
- Learn AT LEAST some music theory. Music theory is basically, “the study of how music works”. If you study astronomy, it’s not enough to marvel at how pretty the stars are. If you are a musician, learning the facts and technical bits will enlighten you and most likely make you a better musician too. AND you will be able to dialogue with other musicians. I have had several students over the years say, “I don’t want to learn theory, it will interrupt my creativity.” This is the biggest crock of lame excuse and is JUST NOT TRUE. There are GREAT musicians who know and don’t know theory. There are terrible musicians who know and don’t know theory. BUT, if you are in that “great” category, knowing theory WILL make you better. DON’T be a wimp. Learn music theory.
Plus, and this is a fact: Cuties dig musicians that know theory!!!
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Erich Andreas has been playing and teaching guitar for nearly 30 years. He has taught 100s of students for 1000s of hours, has authored several books on the subject, has over 40,000,000 video views on his collective YouTube channels and is passionate about creating guitar ninjas all over the world. His philosophy is, if you have the right instruction and do the practice there is NOTHING that you cannot accomplish!