For the last 18 years, I have been working and contributing musically as a Guitarist, Composer, Author and Mentor in diversified industries including Bollywood, Advertisements, Live Concerts, Publishing, Productions, Education etc.
This Article as ‘5 Obstacles’ is inspired by one of my student and readers and here I am going to pinpoint 5 Obstacles that you need to cross in order to be a good competent guitarist.
Although there are many petty obstacles but I have covered only 5 major of them. 90% of Guitar Players & Teachers never focus specifically and directly on these 5 areas but indirectly (or unknowingly) and infact they are improved automatically as a byproduct.
For reference – a person working at a Gym wants a wider chest but his same chest exercise is also building his biceps and other muscles is an indirect growth and a byproduct.
My this Article will inspire all guitar learners for a conscious development on these 5 Obstacles.
So here are the 5 obstacles faced by a Guitar Learner –
- 1 # Take out chords of known songs (the ones you have heard) on your own – So when you have known all chords and you can change them fluently. Can you now take out the chords of any other songs without having chord progression chart or their chords info? When it comes to finding what chords to apply for a song, most beginners are struck and they go by fluke. Besides that they also make repeated wrong choices or build their wrong habits. Mistakes are important but somebody is needed to pinpoint mistakes so that you can see and learn.
This area, if not focussed, stays undeveloped for a long and eternal period of time.
How to develop it – This stage is reached via a learning process. Your mentor should have a defined repertoire, exercises, tasks to find out chords and complexity levels to develop your Chord sense. They should offer you tests and let you do mistakes and then rectify them so that you can see the contrast.
- 2 # Apply right chords to an unheard, unknown fresh song – This is a quantum leap, a guitarist could be learning for years and years and is also able to play chords of known songs but what about spontaneous melodies which they haven’t heard? Many guitarists get locked here.
There is a difference between known and unknown songs. Known songs can give you reference of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Every effect is pre-defined. Unknown or fresh melodies are yet to be given the feel and impact. They are yet to be known and there can be so many variations, options and scopes in it.
If you ask me – Professional Guitarists can even tell the name of chords without touching the ‘Guitar’. For them chords move along with the melody and they are so spontaneous. Mood will vary a bit based on guitarist approach yet no chord will be wrong.
How to develop it – This stage is reached via a consistent learning process. Your mentor should have a defined repertoire and complexity levels to develop your Chord sense with fresh melodies and unheard pieces. They should offer you test and let you do mistakes and then rectify them so that you can see the contrast.
- 3 # Identify Rhythms and strumming pattern of any song – If you ask me the definition of a beginner guitarist. Let me give you a clue – Make them play a famous song they are playing for years and ask them to play another famous song (Please note – I am referring famous songs here) and they will be running the same rhythm every time.
So most guitarist give years on guitar but they keep on practicing wrong habits, which is now more difficult to un-learn.
How to develop it – This development should not take more than 3 months of learning via an organized training program and rest is your Practice. But if you have developed wrong habits then it will take more time, based on how much time you take to unlearn them. Your mentor should help you with defined exercise that focus on particular rhythm concepts and other areas along with practice schedule and repertoires.
- 4 # Take out leads by Ear (Finer Aural Skills) – Let me tell you the fact – go to a rock musician band or any good performing musicians and ask them to play the leads of 10 songs randomly . They would proudly reply that “This is not their repertoire” or “They have not heard it”.
Most professional guitarists and musicians would normally fail this test at a level. Having good Aural grasp means you can take out 99% of things by hearing, is a great quality and this is one of the biggest achievement to be a good guitarist. It’s also a big obstacle to be crossed for being a good face-value guitarist.
How to develop it – There are various methods and exercises to improve your aural skills. You obviously start improving it (to an extent) indirectly while listening music and practicing guitar etc. But your Mentor should also offer you series of exercises, targets, repertoire, leads and pieces to improve this skill. Ragas scales and learning is also great way to do it.
- 5 # Achieving strong finger dexterity – Speeding up – One of my students came to me and said that he practices 3 hours/day and still unable to speed up his hand. Now this is another fact, practice is no substitute of growth anyhow. I gave him a lesson that is to be done for only 10 minutes/day for a week only at a fixed tempo and way (infact doing it more than 10 minutes is not required or rather detrimental). His improvement was magical just in a week time, he also found that he was much ahead in improvement in 1 week than he was trying for last many months. Most students get struck here.
How to develop it – I have students who wants to play complex and fast tunes but they can’t speed up even with more practice time. Your mentor should give you the process of development of fingers. The right and wrongs of exercises.
Once you have crossed all these 5 major obstacles, you are in a separate guitar- world of infinite explorations. In fact the real journey starts from here and this is the beginning of a ‘Guitarist’.
Love and Regards