Having a website that provides beginner guitar lessons means that I get a ton of mail from students telling me what they find most challenging and asking for advice on different aspects of how to learn the guitar. I get letters from by beginner students from every part of the globe and from all demographic groups, so I think it's safe to say that these problems will be universal amongst beginner guitar players.
There are many similarities found in the letters since most beginners run into the same problems, so I decided to do a quick post about the most common ones, as basically every novice guitar student will find something useful and relevant among them.
Here are the most asked questions and problems my online guitar students have, and what to do about them.
- Changing Between Chords - This is definitely the first problem beginners run into. They learn to sort of hold down a couple of chords (which takes a considerable amount of getting used to in itself), than they realize that they'll need to change in between all of these chords.
Solution: Remember what it was first like to hold down a C major? Seemed impossible, but got easier. The same thing with chord changes. Learn how to change between chords correctly, and work at it.
- String Skipping - Another common problem beginners face is when they have to pluck 2 non-adjacent strings, they just end up not hitting the right string.
Solution: The more you practice, the more your picking hand gets used to the strings. You'll ultimately be able to pluck whichever string you want without even looking at them, which will be great, but getting such an instinctive feel for something does not happen overnight. Practice makes perfect!
- Barre Chords - I would say that at least half of the letters my students send me relate to problems with barre chords.
Solution: Your hands need to be strong and coordinated to be able to play bar chords correctly. Once you know the correct technique of playing barre chords, you'll need to practice them a LOT to get them sounding right all, or at least most of the time.
- Which Song to Practice - This question comes mainly from students who like to skip between songs, without really learning them and thereby mastering the techniques taught in the song. What usually happens is that they start learning one of the beginner guitar songs, run into a problem and decide to go for another song leaving the first one behind. But the new song is a bit hard as well, so they try something else, and so on. The result is that without having learned any of the songs and thereby not having improved at all, they feel like they've looked at every song, and don't know what to do next.
Solution: Don't give up on learning a song when you run into the first sign of difficulties. Rome wasn't built in a day!
- No Time for Practice - We live accelerated lives, which means that a lot of my guitar students don't have time to practice.
Solution: The lessons are short and to the point, watching one a couple of times will take you about half an hour. You can print out the tabs afterwards, and practice the techniques without having to watch the video over each time, which means that you can practice and just fool around at any time of the day afterwards. And really, even 5 minutes at a time will be to your benefit. While you're watching TV, while something is in the microwave, while you're talking on the phone, while you're waiting for someone or something, etc. So my point is to have your guitar out where you can see it, making it easily accessible, and pick it up whenever you can.
The Secret of Learning the Guitar
So, now its time to unveil the ultimate, 100% guaranteed, super-duper extravagant secret to learning the guitar. Are you ready? Here you go:
Believe me when I tell you that all of the learn guitar overnight, or in 5 days, or in 5 weeks programs are a bunch of bull. The people who make it seem easy, the rock stars, the classical guitarists, the guitar teachers have all been playing for many years, even decades! The best guitarists of all time, like Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, Jimmy Page,Santana, etc. have devoted their life to learning the guitar.
So the moral of the story is that you shouldn't get discouraged when you're not shredding like Slash after 3 months of playing. Playing the guitar is a wonderful hobby, and will bring countless hours of joy to you and your loved ones. It takes a considerable amount of practice, but will be soooo much more than worth it.