Improve-Your-Guitar-Playing - fun on the frets

I can’t count the times I say this to my students but there is one simple thing you can do to improve your guitar playing. It’s so simple but most won’t do it and the sad thing is it can have an almost immediate effect.

The idea of music being a language seems to be all the rage in guitar education lately. Technically I’m not sure I call it a language, but I think it does share a lot of similarities in the way it should/could be taught. The mechanism of thinking, making a sound and receiving a sound are similar.

To learn a language you need to immerse yourself in it. It’s not enough to read a text book or learn the theoretical aspects of grammar. No, to really learn it you have to listen, imitate and speak. You learned your native language by listening to your parents, imitating words they would say and eventually expressing your own thoughts.

When learning a second language it’s so much easier if you can repeat the process and immerse yourself in it. I’ve heard of people who needed a 2nd language for work purposes but really struggled to get it. It’s a bit extreme but one government employee was sent to live in with a family for 6 months where they would only speak their native tongue, the language the employee was struggling with. He came out after the 6 months speaking fluently.

So, how does this improve your guitar playing? what’s it got to do with guitar playing anyway?

When working on a particular song I always ask the student to listen to the song and if possible play along with it. This is immersing yourself in it. You can start to hear the nuance, the phrasing, the arrangement…you can feel the rhythm. One of the first hurdles students have, and this often follows them through a big part of their leaning is rhythm. For a beginner it’s a great way to learn and understand strum patterns.

If the music is too fast to play with you can slow it down by using software such as Transcribe. It’s a great package and highly recommended, I use it all the time when I need to learn songs or solos for students and for performance. It not only allows me to slow a song down but also to loop a section and change key if necessary.

YouTube also has a control in the settings (cog on the bottom right hand side) that allows you too slow down a video, it doesn’t have the functionality of Transcribe but it is simple and of course free, plus you have access to all the material that is up there on the platform.

You will really improve your guitar playing no matter what your level, beginner, intermediate or advanced if you just spend time listening.  Like learning to speak, listen, imitate, immerse yourself in it then you can make it your own.

Do you listen to the songs you are learning? Do you play along with the songs?  If you are trying to learn a new style do you immerse yourself in it? Has it helped you to improve your guitar playing? Let me know in the comments section if you have any thoughts.

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