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10 most important tips to learn the Guitar

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Here's a list of the ten most important tips if you want to embark on learning the guitar.

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This tutorial is not going to be a regular guitar class, instead it is going to cover 10 very important tips to learn the guitar (and actually any other instrument) appropriately.

These are not practical and specific tips such as "put your finger here for play a C major", but rather universal advice that everybody can use, no matter what your level and expectations are.

1. Pratice

The first tip on this list is clearly what's most important: you need to practice.

Anything you'll be doing on your guitar, whether it has to do with technique or theory, will require some practice. In order to improve, you need to repeat the movements and exercises. If you don't work on that, you will not improve, it's as simple as that.

Obvioulsy, you don't need to push yourself to practice 12 hours a day, 10 to 15 minutes per day will be enough to improve, as long as you're serious about it.

Anyway, practicing is the key aspect of learning an instrument, so don't neglect this.

2. Have fun

Practicing is important but this is not the goal. Practise will just help you learn and master techniques and theoretical concepts that will help you play some music.

And playing music is the goal when one is learning an instrument. Having fun while playing, composing or improvising songs. So, despite the first tip (which is still very very important), you should also remember to have fun, to enjoy yourself, to play music.

If you completely ignore the musical dimension, your learning process will soon become a hassle, you’ll get tired of it or feel annoyed, and you will end up dropping out. Which is not cool.

So, when you play guitar, always try to save a bit of time to have fun and play things you enjoy. It’s not always easy to juggle work and fun time, and this issue will probably be mentioned again in other tutorials, but you need to do it.

3. Take classes

This third tip will not be applicable to everyone, unfortunately, as this is about taking classes. And, not eveyone may have the time, budget or motivation to take classes. And this is not a big deal at all.

However, if you are able to take classes (whether with a private tutor or in a music school), don’t hesitate any longer. Taking classes with a good teacher will teach you a lot of things, he/she will guide your practice, will answer all of your questions and will prevent you from taking bad habits. This is unvaluable for your learning process.This third tip will not be applicable to everyone, unfortunately, as this is about taking classes. And, not eveyone may have the time, budget or motivation to take classes. And this is not a big deal at all.

However, if you are able to take classes (whether with a private tutor or in a music school), don’t hesitate any longer. Taking classes with a good teacher will teach you a lot of things, he/she will guide your practice, will answer all of your questions and will prevent you from taking bad habits. This is unvaluable for your learning process.

4. Learn to match the rhythm

This tip is very important as it is often neglected by beginners (and sometimes by advanced guitar players too, unfortunately). Rhythm matching is key to playing music.

Music is made of two things: notes (which make chords, melodies and harmony as a whole) and rhythm. Without rhythm, you only have half of the music. Playing without matching the rhythm is like playing out of tune.

Since learning rhythm does not require much technical skills on the guitar (or even no guitar at all), feel free to learn it as soon as you begin. Once you know can play 3 chords following a beat, then you’ll be playing music. However, if you learn 3000 chords without any rhythm, you will still not know how to play music.

5. Don’t neglect music theory

This tip will not please everyone, that’s why I just say "don’t neglect music theory" and not " push yourself to learn the theory".

Music theory is very useful for any musician, not matter what your level or favorite music style is. Many beginners neglect this dimension because they think it’s too hard, or useless. Both assumptions are wrong. It’s true that learning music theory can become complex at a high level, but this is not what we are refering to.

I just recommend you to learn the basics of music theory. With a bit of luck, you may like it and you’ll learn more, but anyway this will be very useful for you to compose, impovise or just understand better what you’re playing.

As for all the rest, you should have fun doing it. Try doing this at your own pace, and apply the knowledge you acquire on a regular basis.

6. Use your ears

In my opinion, this tip is very important, but not so easy to explain.

When one is playing music, what's happening is sound being received by ears. Ears to the musician are like eyes to the painter. And there aren't that many blind painters.

Having said that, how should you use your ears? Well, you ned to listen to music. Go to concerts, listen to a lot of music, listen to what you're playing with your instrument. Be careful, this is not about "hearing" only, but rather listening carefully. Listen to the sounds, string strummings and all the differents notes you play.

This will not be easy in the beginning, but with time, your musical ear will develop, it will be easier for you to listen to tiny details and micro-analyze what you are listening to. And this is a really important skill to acquire, since it will allow you to analyze and be critical on your way of playing, which will lead you to improve on the few issues you may have.

To help you do that, you can record yourself while you play. Even if it's a poor-quality recording, it's still better than nothing and it will allow you to carefully listen to what you've done without paying attention to your fingers or the beat or anything else. If you do this, you'll notice many details and flaws in your guitar playing.

7. Play with other people

This tip usually scares people out, as it's about playing with other musicians.

Many beginners are scared to do this, because they think they're not good enough, or that other musicians are too good for them, or just because they're shy. And this is totally normal, everybody went down this path. But you should push yourself, or at least try pushing yourself.

Playing with other musicians will teach you a lot of things, both on a personal level (it's a unique experience) and on a learning level (that's when you'll realize the importance of the beat for instance). In addition, you'll have the opportunity to see how other musicians play, or get tips from them to improve.

Regarding this issue, get rid of the idea that good musicians will not want to play with you because you are a beginner. Except a few pretentious and presumptuous assholes, any musician will be happy to jam with other musicians, regardless of their level.

If you don't really know where to go to play with other people, feel free to discuss with other musicians, ask your teacher if you have one, or go to a music store. You will meet many people open to such an initiative, so you'll just have to ask and go for it. And once you will have tried once, you'll want to keep on doing it.

8. Keep an open mind

Music is very vast, with many styles, techniques, habits, and it's very important to keep an open mind. Avoid limiting yourself to just one style, or just one band. Even if there are styles you don't like, push yourself a little and listen to them or even play them.

Get out of your music bubble, push your boundaries, and work on new things. Opening your mind to other styles will help you learn many techniques and concepts which you'll be able to use again for the music you like.

And it's also an excellent way to escape from the routine that may kick in when practice and play always the same stuff. Try a completely different way, on a brand new style you don't know, and you'll feel like discovering music again.

9. Explore

When you start learning the guitar, you usually have a guided practice, especially if you have a teacher on your side. You will have a goal, a music style that you'll want to explore, exercises to work on and so on. And this is all good stuff to improve and move in the right direction.

Having said that, it's still very important to explore. This is about trying new things, everything and anything. If you happen to find a random tab you're interested in, go for it! You will not succeed every time, and sometimes the final result may be terrible, but you'll be learning a lot in doing so. And composing is one of the best ways to explore music.

Even if this is not your goal, or if you don't feel like it, or if you think that you are lacking the knowledge to do so, it doesn't harm to try composing. This will push you to ask yourself questions and find answers that you wouldn't learn in any other way. Worst case scenario, you'll waste a bit of time, but you have your whole life ahead, so come on and have fun!

10. Follow your own pace

This last tip is not very easy to explain, so I sum it up with that very famous expression: follow your own pace.

What I mean is that many beginners are rushing to learn. They want to achieve a goal they have set, they want to learn many things and want to play music. But I personally think that this is a very bad way to look at music.

Music is a permanent learning process. There is no "end" to it, so to say, there are always more things to learn and explore. And it's not about learning as fast as possible, it's not a race or a competition. No one cares how fast you learn, the only thing that matters is that you enjoy playing your instrument. And if you're trying to improve fast, you'll probably miss a lot of important things in music.

So if you think you fall into this category of impatient people that are in a hurry, slow down. Step back, put things in perspective and remember that the only thing that matters is that you have fun. Follow your own pace.

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Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence
(Robert Fripp)