5 useful & simple tips for learning to play the guitar

When I started learning to play the guitar, it was tough — on my fingers and my patience.  However, as I persevered, playing became easier; eventually, I ended up being not too bad. The key to becoming good, of course, is practice. With that in mind, here are some tips for how to learn to play the guitar faster.

Don’t rush

These days, the internet is awash with videos and articles about playing the guitar. Consequently, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself. When learning guitar, the best approach is to take one step at a time — you will do yourself no favours by flitting between techniques without mastering any of them.

Here’s what I mean: If you’re a beginner, concentrate on holding down three to five chords for a week or two. Once this becomes easy, spend the next few weeks changing between the chords. This methodical approach takes patience and discipline, but it’s worth it.

How long should you practice guitar for?

When it comes to guitar practice, quality beats quantity. If you can, I recommend dedicating at least 30 minutes per day to practice. Make sure you have a plan before you pick up your guitar, though. If you’re still struggling to hold down a troublesome F chord, devote more time to getting it right before you move to something else.

Noodling isn’t practice

As guitar players, we all enjoy messing around (noodling) on the guitar—playing what we feel without a plan. Noodling is fun and essential for applying what we know; however, so is structured practice, so don’t let it hinder your progress.

Don’t forget about music theory

How many times do guitarists say “I play by ear”? I hear it all the time, and that’s fine; however, most of these guys or gals, if they’re any good, still understand the mechanics of what they play—how chords are constructed, etc. So, to become a well-rounded musician, dedicate time to theory. A guitar teacher can help you with this. Remember though, not to mix things up; devote separate sessions to either practical or theoretical.

Play to a metronome

When playing on your own, it’s easy to become slack about timing, which will cause grief when you start playing with other musicians. Therefore, once you’ve reached the point that you can change between chords, play to a metronome. Perhaps, surprisingly, it is often harder to play a steady slow rhythm than a fast one.

How do you practice guitar? Tell me in the comments below.

Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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