The 10 Guitar Improvement Rules
You’ll Learn To Live By – and Love! – as a London Guitar Institute Student
Guitar improvement article by: Stefan Joubert
(The London Guitar Institute’s Head Guitar Teacher and Guitar Virtuoso – https://www.londonguitarinstitute.co.uk)
Rule#1: You will have a Very Clear Goal of What and Why You’re Practicing. Great guitar playing doesn’t just happen out of the blue. A tremendous amount of effort and time needs to be put into learning technique, sound, effects, scales, chords, lines, vibratos and other important guitar-based assets. The first rule is to have crystal clear goals when you practice your guitar. Typically a session can be broken down into a couple of areas of improvement such as right-hand picking, vibrato and bends. Whatever you decide to work on – always have a clear picture of the whats and whys of your practice session. It’s most effective when you combine that mindset with what you’ve been learning in your lessons the past few weeks.
Rule#2: Improvement happens in tiny-increments, but the FAITHFUL will win. Do not except major improvements overnight. A war is won with a lot of strategy, patience and persistence. Churchill did not achieve victory in WW II overnight – he simply believed, continued, worked relentlessly and sometimes failed – even to the point of despair – BUT in the end he won the war. It’s a bit like that (at times) with serious guitar improvement. An great example of this is when you are eager to learn how to play fast. It’s a worthwhile goal and playing fast can sound terrific, but it will take a lot of strategy, patience and persistence. At times it will feel like you will never achieve your goal, but if you stick it out – in the end you will win!
Rule#3: You will stop playing immediately if your hands or a muscle hurts. A common mistake some guitarists make is to practice even when it hurts. If your hands every hurt – take a break – even take the day off, but never risk your hands for improvement – it will definitely not be worth it.
Rule#4: You will warm up each and every time before you start playing the guitar. Warming up is essential and it gets your blood flowing through your arms. When you warm up properly you reduce injury by a very very significant amount. Always warm up before you dive into the passion of playing the guitar!
Rule#5: You will NOT be afraid of trying something new. Trying a new lick or line or even a guitar piece in a completely different style to yours is perfectly alright! In fact only playing and practicing one style is rarely a good idea. All the greatest guitarists borrows ideas from different genres. Take a look at Robben Ford – he is an excellent blues guitarist, but he certainly knows his bebop lines. Another great experimental giant to study is Steve Vai – a tremendous example of a guitarist who can play many styles on a virtuoso level. Do you think Mr. Vai would have been half the guitarist he is today if he was scared of trying new things? NO WAY! I would suggest you try at least a new line or lick (during your musical dessert time) and incorporate other styles into your playing!
Rule#6: You will play with others. There are thousands of guitarists who have excellent technique, but no sense of rhythm or “feel” for playing with others. They are unfortunately half-way-there-guitarists. If you want to make serious improvements in your playing make absolutely certain that you PLAY WITH OTHERS in a setting that’s not always comfortable for you! By doing so you will learn a whole lot of things that you will never be able to learn while practicing in the comfort of your private guitar practice studio!
Rule#7: You will have a Guitar Mentor. It’s absolutely imperative if you want to become the best you can be to have a guitar mentor, preferably an instructor who can follow your progress on a weekly basis and walk the guitar journey with you!
I’m not just saying this as the head guitar teacher of the London Guitar Institute, it has been my own experience as well. It’s been my observation that when I used to learn the guitar with an excellent mentor, my playing improved four-fold (meaning I got four-years of guitar experience in one year).
There is absolutely nothing that can replace the value of a guitar mentor or coach to help you reach the stars!
Rule#8: Giving up is not an option. If you’re serious about learning the guitar (whether it’s for your pleasure or a serious endeavour), then you cannot and MUST not give up! There are going to be times when your progress will be frustratingly slow. There will be times when it will feel like you are basically going nowhere. Guess what! – we’ve all been there. All the greatest guitarists on earth have been at exactly the same dreadful situation. The solution – NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVING UP!
Rule#9: You will practice the guitar without a guitar.
Doing things the normal average guitar player is not doing is exactly what I suggest!
Have you ever find yourself queuing at the airport? If so what did you do with your ‘wasted time’? The best way to improve faster than ever before is to turn some or all of your ‘wasted time’ (time where you are waiting for something, but really doing nothing) into productive ‘photographic memory’ practice sessions.
How does that work? – well you basically practice new patterns in the eye of your mind – visualising the guitar, your left and right hand and practicing without a guitar!
Rule#10: You will improve your guitar playing in a systematic organised fashion that looks after each of the technical units much like our own bodies.
We have fingers, toes, arms, knees, eyes, ears etc… In guitar playing we have the left hand and the right hand and then subdivisions of those such as (right hand) picking, strumming, sweeping, fingerpicking, tapping, controlling the volume and (left hand) fretting, vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, bends, bends and vibratos, slides, double stops and much more.
You will be dedicated to practicing each of those units (over time) and perfect your understanding on how they operate. If you do that – then you’re 99% ahead of all guitarists trying to improve their playing today!
(The above article was written by the guitar virtuoso Stefan Joubert for the benefit of helping guitarists around the world improve. He is currently teaching at the London Guitar Institute in Central London – Mayfair and the City and also offers correspondence guitar lessons over the internet for anyone who wants to improve their guitar playing skills.
He has developed a very unique style of playing by placing the guitar on his knees like a piano and playing on the fretboard with both hands. His videos have received millions of views on YouTube. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to study with Stefan in person at the London Guitar Institute, please get in touch with us on 0207 127 0717 or visit our website at https://www.londonguitarinstitute.co.uk)