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Guitarist playing in a jazz band

Step 1: Listen to great jazz music

In order to become a competent jazz guitarist, you will need to listen to a lot of excellent jazz music.

It is simply essential to get the sound of jazz in your ear!

Listening to a lot of jazz music will help you internalise the sound of swing!

In addition to listening, you should also attend regular performances of live jazz.

By attending live jazz performances, you will become more and more acquainted with the vocabulary of jazz music.

You will also witness first hand how jazz musicians take turns to solo and support each other!

Understanding the language of jazz, as well as the subtle and intricate swing rhythms will help you on your journey to become a competent jazz guitarist.

Here’s a list of high quality jazz artists that you should listen to:

  • Wes Montgomery
  • Charles Mingus
  • Charlie Parker
  • Dave Brubeck
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Herbie Hancock
  • Jan Garbarek
  • Keith Jarrett
  • John Coltrane
  • Pat Metheny
  • Miles Davis
  • Thelonious Monk
  • Billie Holiday
  • Bill Evans
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Emily Remler
  • Larry Carlton
  • Pat Martino
  • John Abercrombie
  • Bill Frisell
  • Mike Stern
  • Joe Pass
  • Barney Kessell
  • John McLaughlin
Jazz cycles

Step 2: Become a master of jazz cycles

Jazz moves in cycles.

Becoming a master of jazz cycles is an absolute must, if you want to become exceptional at playing jazz guitar.

A classic jazz harmonic cycle that occurs over and over in jazz is the: “I IV VIII III VI II V I cycle”.

I require all my jazz guitar students to memorise this particular cycle throughout the cycle of 5ths.

It takes lots of time, and is an arduous task to say the least…

But the result is an excellent understanding of harmony, and a good working foundation of chords and arpeggios.

As the guitar is a transposing instrument and we often rely on patterns, it is also important to get to know each and every key.

Simply moving a chord up and down with no understanding of the context of the key is just not good enough.

You need to develop a feel for the key that you are in.

For example, if we play in the key of Ab major, you should (immediately) know that the relative minor is F Minor.

I would recommend for budding jazz guitarists to also learn chords on the piano in order to get a deeper grasp of jazz harmony.

Remember, we can only play six notes at the same time on the guitar.

On the piano we can play an endless amount (if we use the sustain pedal!).

So spend a good amount of time practising cycles and harmony.

Get to know the “II V I” and “II V I VI” chord progressions inside out.

You will find that harmony in jazz generally moves in fourths.

The “II” chord moves up a fourth to the “V” chord.

The “V” chord then moves up a fourth to the “I” or tonic chord.

Become familiar with how jazz cycles work.

Study, study and study more, and you will eventually understand the inner workings of jazz!

Puzzle

Step 3: Get an understanding of jazz harmony

Harmonically speaking jazz is complex.

In Western music, we harmonise chords in thirds.

Western classical music generally consists of triads and seventh chords.

In jazz, we take this one step further.

Harmonisation will often extend to ninth, eleventh and thirteenth chords.

You therefore, need a solid understanding of harmony in order to excel at playing jazz guitar.

It is also important to understand arranging as well as the range of your instrument.

If you play in a jazz band, you have to take great care not to step on the toes of the pianist.

You have to play complementary chords on the guitar that will make the entire band sound great!

To do this properly, you will need a great working understanding of harmony as well as arranging.

A good exercise on the guitar is to play through the four main seventh chords.

Play through the Major 7th, Minor 7th, Dominant 7th and Minor 7b5 chords.

You should know several voicings for each chord.

This is why great jazz guitar tuition is worth its salt.

With a great teacher, you can get to know these voicings inside out and understand how they work on the instrument.

This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg.

You will need to study harmony in relation to key and context.

Once you understand the beauty and language of harmony, you will then be able to improvise on a much more proficient level as well as provide accompaniment along with the rest of the band.

By having a greater understanding of jazz harmony, you will also be able to create beautiful chord melodies on the guitar and harmonise jazz standards (an important tool in your toolkit as a jazz guitarist).

Jazz guitar player

Step 4: Develop a repertoire of lines and licks

Developing a repertoire of lines and licks is absolutely essential if you want to succeed at playing jazz guitar.

Knowing a good amount of quality major and minor “II V I” licks will definitely help you in the heat of the battle when improvising!

A lot of new jazz guitar players are scared of memorising licks.

They fear that it will make them ‘method’ players.

There is certainly a (small) danger of becoming a method player if you approach learning licks in a ‘squared’ manner.

However, if you learn your jazz guitar licks inside out, and then you learn how to manipulate those licks in REAL-TIME, you can actually change/amend the licks on the spot. (You should aim to become the Swiss army knife of jazz lines!)

You will then definitely not become a ‘method’ player!

The licks will merely be a part of your improvisation toolkit and will be helpful both in developing your ears and helping you play throughout various chord changes.

Therefore I recommend learning a selection of high quality major and minor “II V I” licks all five positions of the guitar neck.

My all-time favourite book for learning jazz lines is Pat Martino’s “Linear Expressions”.

You can buy Pat Martino’s book on Amazon here.

Louis Armstrong

Step 5:  It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!

“It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing)!” – the immortal words by Irving Mills.

The fact of the matter is that you simply cannot neglect the swing feel.

Jazz music is all about swing.

You absolutely need to develop a wonderful jazz swing to speak the language of jazz.

I recommend listening to great jazz players to get this wonderful feel.

Emily Remler was a fantastic jazz guitarist (she was renowned for her swing feel!).

Listen to her play “Blues for Herb” on YouTube below:

You will notice that she’s got an outstanding swing feel.

You need to develop that “feel” and work on your swing.

Jazz guitar is all about making your guitar sing and swing!

Listening to great jazz is the first step.

The second step would be practising slowly, and working meticulously on playing in a very relaxed fashion with that cool sound that swings!

Clocks time and calendar

Step 6: Have a structured practice routine

Having a structured practice routine is really the key to getting great at playing jazz.

We all have limited time, and how we use our time is the key to achieving our goals.

When you practice, you should have a goal.

Ideally, you will have a short plan for each and every practice session.

By focusing to get the absolute best out of the time that is available, you will become a success.

You should ideally include multiple areas of discipline in your structured routine.

We should practice technique, lines and licks, chords, rhythm, and also include time for jazz repertoire as well as jamming!

It is also wise to mix your practice up between a strict regiment type session and a more free session.

Also include time to listen to great jazz players.

By listening to great jazz players, you will develop your ear and become a better jazz musician yourself!

Having a plan will set you apart and help you achieve your goals!

saxophone and jazz guitarist performing

Step 7: Learn jazz form and structure

Jazz is all about form and structure.

Playing through a jazz standard and not losing your place in the score is paramount to your jazz guitar playing success!

Great jazz players have a cognitive encyclopaedia of jazz forms and structures.

Learning famous jazz structures such as the blues, and classic jazz standards are an absolute must.

Here is a list of 20 jazz standards that every jazz guitarist ought to know:

1. All The Things You Are
2. Autumn Leaves
3. Cherokee
4. Fly Me To The Moon
5. Have You Met Miss Jones
6. How High The Moon
7. I Love You
8. I’m Old Fashioned
9. Just Friends
10. Misty
11. My Funny Valentine
12. On Green Dolphin Street
13. Stella By Starlight
14. So What
15. Take The A Train
16. The Girl From Ipanema
17. There Will Never Be Another You
18. Giant Steps
19. Blue in Green
20. Lush Life

Learning how to play jazz standards will take lots of time.

As a jazz guitarist, you should analyse the chord progressions and understand the harmonies. Try to understand the harmonic progressions and why one particular chord moves to another etc…

Analyse the form of the standard in question.

Memorise the standard throughout multiple keys.

I would also recommend getting to know the lyrics in order to understand the meaning of the song more intimately.

So to give yourself the edge, do not neglect this all-important area of form and structure.

Spend time getting to know the most important jazz standards inside out!

Master the rules

Step 8: You first have to master the rules to break the rules!

To become great at playing jazz, you first need to master the rules of jazz.

That means you have to take the time to learn chords across the entire neck of the guitar, all the major modes, all the harmonic minor modes and all the melodic minor modes.

You should also have a firm grasp of a large variety of pentatonic scales.

In addition to all this, you need a really good repertoire of lines and licks, and a solid understanding of how to use them over a variety of jazz standards.

You also need to know how to swing and play through structure and form!

As you can see, there is a lot of ground work to do!

Once you have completed the important foundations of playing jazz, then you can look forward to freedom.

Then you can look forward to breaking the rules!

Then you can look forward to playing just ‘using your ears’.

You cannot be a master of the instrument without first being an excellent student.

You need to be willing to do whatever it takes to learn the tools of the trade in order to obtain freedom!

Once you are free and your knowledge of the instrument and jazz is intuitive, then you can let go and just improvise.

Then you can break the rules and make your jazz guitar dreams come true!

Never give up

Step 9: Success comes to those who do not give up!

Becoming successful has a lot more to do with resilience than pure talent.

Those who (eventually) achieve greatness, are those who do not give up.

If you really want learn how to play jazz guitar to a high standard, then you need to follow the recommendations in this article and put it into practice (over an extended period of time).

Most people are able to follow a solid practice schedule for a year or two.

Practising for a long period of time such as 3 to 7 years is however, outside of most people’s domain (because human nature usually gives up!).

Breakthroughs come to those who persevere for the long term!

In order to understand the art of playing jazz, you need to give things lots of time and be prepared to have plenty of failures along the way.

The greatest jazz musicians were once failures.

In fact, Charlie Parker had a symbol thrown at him during his teens by Jo Jones for messing up on stage.

He responded with confidence and vigour and said “I’ll be back!” as he left the club.

Charlie Parker then practiced and practiced and practiced some more.

He practised and persevered until he mastered the art of jazz improvisation!

The pattern is quite evident for everyone to see.

First you fail at playing jazz, by trying to play without being truly ready (this is actually an important step!).

Then you return back to your practice room and practice a heck of a lot.

Eventually, you succeed and become successful!

That ladies and gentlemen, is the path to becoming a successful jazz guitarist!

Believe in yourself like Superman

Step 10: Believe you can and you will succeed!

If you really want to succeed at playing jazz guitar, you need to believe in yourself.

By believing that you can achieve your musical dreams, you call the things that are not as if they were.

In other words, you make your future success a reality today.

The future is generally unknown, but you can influence the future.

If you believe that you can learn and master jazz guitar, then you will make much more effort during your private practice time!

Remember that faith and action goes hand-in-hand.

If you believe in your jazz guitar future, then you will practice your II V I licks.

If you believe in your jazz guitar success, then you will memorise a large library of chords that you can call upon at will when needed!

If you truly believe, then you will devour Pat Martino’s Linear Expressions and get to know the lines inside out!

Basically, you will do whatever it takes to make it happen!

I leave you with an important thought:

If you struggle to believe in yourself, and you feel that you cannot succeed get someone to believe in you!

A great guitar coach can help you achieve your goals!

Believing in yourself and your abilities is not a natural process for everyone.

You may think that you are not talented.

I guarantee you that you are!

All you need is excellent jazz guitar education and a willingness to put in the time and effort required to become a success.

So, if you need help in the “psychology-of-playing-department”, get in touch and we will do our best to help you succeed!

Remember you are a success busy happening!

Go and make your boldest dreams a reality!

Discover 5 ways to stay motivated when practicing the guitar. Improve your practice routine and improve your guitar playing!

Guitar Player

All teachers have had conversations with students about practise routines and we’ve all dealt with students who are feeling less than motivated to practise. Here are 5 ways to stay motivated when practising.
These tips can be used if you are a teacher with a student feeling the pinch of motivational depression or if you are a student looking to give yourself a boost.

1. Progress Chart

For young students, I find progress charts are a great way to encourage them to stay motivated. Similar to one you might find in a classroom. Set the student goals each lesson such as “Practise this chord charge” or “Memorise this melody”. Compliance with the task will result in a positive mark being added to the chart and if the student does not practise the requested piece, a negative mark. Most younger students will see this as a slight challenge to keep up the good progress.

2. The 10 Minute Mindset

Keep practise routines that are achievable. People live busy lives, especially teenage and adult learners. If you tell a 15 year old, or someone will a full time job and a family, to start on Steve Vai’s famous 10 and 30 hour practise routines you’ll be heading for trouble fast.

I often use an approach I like to call the 10 minute mindset. Work on one thing with no distraction for 10 minutes a day for a whole week. If you commit to that solid 10 minutes a day, by the end of the week you should have made some good progress with the item you’re working on. I like to continue the 10 minute mindset beyond the initial stages. If you can convince someone that they will benefit from 10 minutes a day, they might be playing for 20-30 minutes and beyond. This makes the mindset a success. The student is practising for times exceeding 10 minutes, but in their head they are still thinking small chunks, this makes the idea of practise less daunting and very low impact to their lives.

3. Long Term Goals

Encourage your student to consider the long-term goals of what their playing could help them accomplish. If they have the desire to pursue a career in music, perhaps they would see this as reason to put the time and effort into practise. Tell them to consider what they want out of the guitar in the long run. If they want to play in a band, work as a session musician or maybe even teach themselves, emphasise the importance of practising and keeping their skills at a high level. Working as a musician is an incredibly competitive environment to be in, you have to keep yourself on top of your game every day to ensure you’re seen as the best person for the job.

4. Keep it Visible

This seems to be more of a trend with adult learners, but I have seen this behaviour repeated in younger students too. A lot of adults tend to keep their guitars in less obvious places. One thing I realised, simply by asking a group of people in my early days of teaching, was that there seemed to be a correlation between where someone keeps their guitar and how often they practise.

The reply that always stuck with me was a student who kept his guitar in its case at the back of his cupboard. To practise he had to empty the cupboard, take the case out, set everything up and then put it all back away when he was finished. This was not an incentive to practise each day. Keep your guitars where you can see them, I promise you’ll never want to put it down!

Hearing Progress

The ultimate motivator is hearing that the thing you’ve been working on is taking shape. That chord change from a Dmin13 to an F#maj7 has been causing you a lot of bother lately, but it’s starting to get easier now right? What about that alternate picked guitar part? The 3 notes per string at 140bpm lick… that’s definitely getting faster. When you can hear improvement, it will push you to follow it through and commit to the final goal of mastering the thing you’re working on.

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About the Author

Matthew Rusk is a professional musician and guitar teacher from the UK. He has taught hundreds of students from complete beginners to advanced players. He has been providing guitar lessons locally and online, sharing his practise tips, motivation topics and exercises with students far and wide. He has created an online community of like minded music teacher to motivate and encourage individuals of all ages to start learning musical instruments. You can find out more at mgrmusic.com

Find out how to become an outstanding guitarist! Make your guitar dreams a reality and break through by developing the right habits to become truly outstanding!

Guitarist performing on stage

You need passion and inspiration

To become truly great at anything in life requires a fire from within.

Learning to play the guitar is definitely no different.

You see, the main issue at hand is inspiration…

If you are inspired, you will do whatever it takes to become great at what you do.

You will be passionate and willing to practice.

Learning the guitar at the end of the day is more to do with the willingness to practice than anything else.

It is easy to say that you are passionate about learning, but the real test lies in your private practice room!

Of course, great training will help you to continue when the going gets tough.

The truth is you need that fire…. that fire that will make you improvise with Mixolydian b6 mode for 4 hours without stopping, that fire that will make you find all the major chords on string groups 123, 234, 345, 456!

Without that fire, it will be really hard to get that the level that you want to get to!

Stephen Covey was absolutely correct when he wrote a chapter on “Begin with the end in mind” in his best seller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

You see, when you have the vision then the fire will burn!

So be inspired, have a vision! Be on fire and passionate and it will show in your guitar playing! (Even if it takes some time to get there)

You need a positive mindset and a do-whatever-it-takes frame of mind

A positive mindset is very important when it comes to learning how to play the guitar!

Remember that you will go through easy and difficult phases in your guitar journey.

It is during the difficult phases that a positive mindset will help the most.

The secret between success and failure in your guitar playing is in your ability to keep learning and improving ever when you do not see immediate results.

That is why you need to work on your psychology and mindset.

If you are able to persist through tough times, then you can truly improve on your instrument!

You need to monitor your progress and keep a journal (even if it is a rough one)

By keeping a record of your playing, you will improve much faster and your playing will become much more accurate.

It is a well-known fact that keeping a journal (even a rough one) will have a tremendously positive effect on your playing.

It is always a little difficult to get started, but the biggest secret is to just do it!

Buy a little notebook that you like and keep track of your musical speed and development on a regular basis.

There is no need to be overly concerned on regularity.

As long as you measure your improvements on a monthly basis, you will be fine.

You need a great guitar coach – someone who actually inspire you!

A great mentor who inspires and motivate you is the TRUE key to becoming an outstanding guitarist.

The guitar is a complex instrument when played at a very proficient level. (It is actually very simple, but the complexity can ONLY be made simple through a great coach)

That is exactly why you need to take weekly guitar lessons with someone who can help you get SERIOUS and LASTING results in your guitar playing.

The good news is that you do not need to accept mediocre guitar performance forever. No, YOU can do something about your guitar playing by taking the first step.

The first and most crucial step is then to find someone who inspires and motivates you to become a great player.

Even if you only play the guitar for the pleasure, why not do it well?

A great guitar instructor can help you make huge improvement in your playing in a short time.

That is why you must work with a great coach to become a much better player!

You need a solid practice schedule that’s not boring!

Finally, without a solid and regular practice schedule you will not make great progress.

You need dedicated, concentrated hours of practice in order to improve on a monthly basis.

It is not quite as simple as you may think.

A solid practice schedule should be discussed with your guitar mentor.

He or she will help you get the best return on your available time.

Simply just jamming the guitar daily will not yield the best results.

You need a rigorous and tested practice schedule looking at various aspects of your playing in order to improve in a fast and efficient way.

I wish you the greatest success in your guitar journey!

Stay movitated

Learning to play the guitar can seem like a luxury, indeed it is, and like most of life’s luxuries, when life becomes busy they fall by the wayside and can often be forgotten.

During your guitar lessons in London with me, I’ll make sure you learn techniques that help you hone your skills and develop your guitar playing quickly. (My methodologies are truly world-class and I guarantee that you will make rapid progress if you apply yourself and practice wholeheartedly)

I’ll also show you ways which make it easy for you to reach the next stages, it’s my desire to ensure you become the fantastic guitar player you always wanted to be.

Motivation, for any task can wane though, especially if you have a full time job and a family. This is why some guitar lesson students need techniques for staying motivated.

Some guitar players can also hit a stumbling block, just like with any activity or hobby.

You could reach a certain stage and feel like you’ve plateaued, when in reality, just a few thousands of hours more of practice could see you playing like Jimmy Hendrix!

Here are some pertinent tips for staying motivated to ensure you carry on playing the guitar and practicing to become what you wanted to be when you first contacted me: A great guitar player.

See Practice as Me Time

In our busy lives we often forget to stop and smell the roses. Music is incredible for awakening our senses and making us realise the world around us in real time. It’s used to motivate, inspire, relax and rejuvenate, and that’s just by listening to it. Playing music can help you unwind and can release your mind from the troubles of the day. See your practice as an indulgence.

See it as high quality ‘Me Time’!

It’s time for you, no one else.

You deserve that relaxation and you deserve to excel. Make time for you in your busy schedule and enjoy all the mental benefits that playing the guitar will bring!

Set Some Targets

Setting targets can help you carry on when you feel like you’ve reached a plateau.

The key is setting realistic AND ‘faith’ targets.

Have MASSIVE goals and work very hard towards them.

A realistic target could be: “I want to learn all the major, minor, diminished and augmented chords on string group 135 and 246 this year!”.

A faith based target could be: “I want to play semi-quavers at 155 BPM this year!”

The realistic will generally be met, the faith based target will usually be missed, but by having that target in mind you will then achieve that in the next year or years to come!

So DREAM and go big and bold, but also have some realistic goals on your musical plate!

Think Investment not Cost

The world’s most successful individuals achieved success by generally not caring about the price that they need to pay, but rather the return.

Think of your guitar lessons as an investment.

Thinking and comparing price per hour is ridiculous.

The right frame of mind is the following: “Who is going to provide me with the highest quality guitar tuition and where will I get the fastest results!”

Forget about the cost and focus on the RESULT.

Paying for cheap guitar lessons will generally result in a poor guitar education.

Paying quality means (generally) that you will receive quality.

So make sure you get high-quality guitar lessons to give you the best odds of achieving your musical goals!

Your GpracticeProgressScore will increase:

GpracticeProgressScore = ((time spend with instrument * methodology of pratice)+(mindset*qualityofinput))/100

So by having a fantastic teacher you will get there so much quicker and be inspired to practice harder and smarter!

The time you spend with the guitar is up to you!

The methodology will come largely from your teacher/mentor.

Your mindset will come from a variety of sources. (Your teacher and others… try Tony Robbins – highly recommended!)

Quality of input – this is where you get your education. (Directly related to your teacher)

In this video, Stefan Joubert debunks the myth that adults cannot learn how to play the guitar properly.

The facts are that with great guitar education, a solid practice schedule and hard work, you can achieve all that you set out to achieve with the instrument!

It is however, vital to take top-notch guitar instruction with a solid mentor who can help you become the guitarist that you’ve always want to be!

Make your boldest dreams come true and take that leap of faith to achieve your highest goals!

Remember, you are a miracle – one in a million and you have all the potential within to become who YOU want to be!

As long as you follow a proven guitar lesson strategy and take guitar lessons with an outstanding instructor, you will get there!

Faith and action go hand in hand. If you take action, get started then it will only be a matter of time before you excel at playing the guitar!

If you really want to EXCEL at your guitar playing, then the key lies in being a great guitar student.

By really LISTENING to your guitar instructor, you will make MASSIVE, LASTING progress and learn in the quickest method possible.

Learning the guitar takes time… music takes time… our brains need time to understand the complete picture.

By being a great guitar student, you will BEAT time and become better at playing the guitar SO MUCH FASTER.

In this awesome video, Stefan Joubert explains what it takes to be a great guitar student and become great at playing the guitar!

Number 10

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: enrol@londonguitarinstitute.co.uk

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)

Man frustrated

We’ve all been there, and some of us are there today. I’m talking about a frustrating time in your performance and playing that seems to last forever. The problem with progress is that it is rarely a one-way street. Progress is often failing forward. Sometimes you will feel as if your guitar playing is developing tremendously, while at other times, you might feel that you are actually going backwards.This phenomenon is perfectly normal. If you look at anything to do with the human race, progress is rarely a one-way street. We can also see this in the stock market. Warren Buffett, the world-famous investor, successfully predicts the future of companies on the stock markets. He also understands that the short-term fluctuations of the market (where there is going up or whether it’s going down) doesn’t actually matter that much. He is much more concerned about the long-term(His concern, is that his part of the business goes up in value over a five, 10 or 20+ year period). Development in your guitar playing is very much like the stock market. In fact if we had the right software program we could put your progress on a graph and you would notice times when it goes up and times when it goes down. And you know what, it doesn’t matter that much! What matters is that the overall graph is it going up – and is going up fast enough (This is where a great teacher/coach can help you progress tremendously).  So without further ado, here are the 5 steps you can take when frustration sets in.

Step one: Remind yourself that you are not to blame!

The fact is frustration and peaks happen to all of us, heck it even happens to the stock markets. And the stock market is nothing more than the combination of votes of individual people voting up, or voting down. The reason for this analogy, is to give you some confidence about your guitar playing and realise that things go up and they go down. Your main concern, like Warren Buffett, should be the long-term value of your guitar playing.

So yes, you are not to blame, make sure you repeat that yourself!
I’m not saying that you should not take any action, as action inevitably leads to results. What I am saying is that you should give yourself a little bit of space. You need space to breathe & you need space to think. Nothing in this world will go up in one direction. If you happen to meet anyone who seems to be going up in one direction without a lot of effort, you can be very sure that the same person will go down FAST in the same manner!

It’s far better to have fluctuations (going up and down), with the overall line of progress moving consistently upwards. (Consistency is far better then erratic progress)

Step two: Realise that frustration is only temporary

What might frustrate you today, will not frustrate you tomorrow. Yes, being frustrated is part of life. (And if you know a little bit about me, you will know that I’ve had my share of frustrations, and I’m still frustrated a lot of times! – BUT I DON’T LET THAT GET ME DOWN!) I’m not advocating frustration, in fact, I hate frustration – I prefer success and the feeling of being a success.

Unfortunately, feeling truly successful doesn’t last particularly long, as there are always new challenges and mountains to climb. So understand what’s frustrating you today will soon disappear especially if you utilise the appropriate methods to make them disappear which bring me to my next point.

Step three: Make sure you get proper training with a knowledgeable mentor/coach – who can show you how to get there step-by-step!

There is one remedy that is undeniably successful when it comes to conquering frustration, getting some training with an excellent mentor/coach.
You are probably immensely frustrated your guitar playing due to a serious lack of understanding of how to solve your problems. You are probably trying to treat the symptoms. There are often symptoms around such as “playing out of time” or “playing the wrong notes when improvising” or “struggling to play fast”. Those are the symptoms all the effects. We have to tackle the roots and the cause. (Tackling the symptoms will produce mediocre results)

By learning how to play guitar with a master, you will go forward in your playing many light speeds faster than doing it alone. Trust me, I have seen that with my own students. One of my own students recently took a break from lessons for four years, and during those four years he developed much less than in the last couple of months with me.

Why is this? Well it’s quite straightforward. Without a school of thought, or a movement to inspire you, without someone helping you to take responsibility for your guitar playing, it is actually exceedingly difficult to progress successfully by yourself.

Is it impossible to progress by yourself – no it’s not.

But there are remarkably few people will have the self-discipline and ability to truly practice successfully by themselves. I would suggest that 99.99% of all guitarists should get some training and take their guitar playing from being sloppy to becoming great.

Don’t believe me? – I will give you a test.

Try studying with a master for a period of six months. Yes, it is a six month financial commitment. Yes, it’s a six-month physical commitment. Yes, it is six months of your time where you have to be more committed. I can promise you that if you have any passion for your guitar playing that you will never go back without a coach/mentor.
We all need input and, without input, you will not get far. So if, you are constantly frustrated – then you’re your problem pointing towards your education. Great education makes influential people. And I’m not talking about some sort of institutionalised one-size-fits-all education – I’m talking about education that goes to the core of the subject. Education that goes to the very heart of things. By getting that sort of education, you will change your whole life and become what you’ve always wanted to be. At the same time, your frustration will unquestionably decrease! (You will increase your popularity, confidence, mindset and abilities all at the same time)

Step four: Set goals & write them down

You are probably frustrated because you have no clear goals or plans written down where you can refer back to it, to help you go from point A to point B. Think about the following analogy: A certain builder has decided to build a hotel without consulting architects or taking into consideration that the facility will need plumbing and water supply. Halfway in, he consults professionals and finally realise that he will have to rebuild the entire hotel.

That might sound funny and improbable, but a lot of people approach learning the guitar in this manner. It’s hardly the way to go about things.

Setting goals are one of the most important aspect of learning how to play the guitar.

I do need you at this time to understand that I’m not talking about setting goals in an institutionalised manner. (To be institutionalised means that you follow the herd and simply do things because the culture of the herd prefers done that way. Even when it doesn’t make any sense!)

Goal setting can be real straightforward such as “I want to learn how to play Stairway to Heaven” successfully before the end of 2012. That in itself is a commendable Goal.

It is advisable, in fact, it’s absolutely recommended to write down your goals and have a little book with your goals for the year.

If you don’t like the sort of operation, or if it feels too institutionalised for you, that’s fine but I still suggest that you write your goals down. (Even if you write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in your guitar case)

Goal setting will take you from being a downright unorganised guitar player without a plan, to becoming a far better, far superior guitar player. Trust me on this I honestly recommend you set goals – in time it will remove frustration from your life.

I leave you with this thought. Many people have asked what is the road to the Carnegie Hall. The answer practice. In fact, there is also a story about a famous singer who had the picture of the Carnegie Hall on his bathroom mirror with a quotation underneath it that said: “I will sing in the Carnegie Hall”. Now that is powerful – not only is he setting a goal, he is also using the technique of visualisation, as well as the technique of confession and the technique of speaking things that are not as if they were. (That’s called faith)
Yes, it’s no mystery the most successful people in this world have always visualised their future in relation to a certain specific goal. So of course we can break goals into short-term, medium-term and long-term. The most prominent point here is that goal setting will bring results. So yes, please go and set some proper goals for yourself. (In fact, this article you’re reading now exist due to a goal that I set each week. Without doing something nothing happens – remember that and repeat that yourself.)

Step five: Review your goals

Most people, myself included are highly optimistic. I often set goals that are too high to reach. (I never set unrealistic goals, just challenging goals) Why do I do that? Because I love challenging myself. I do not recommend setting low goals, and I do not recommend setting mediocre goals. But what I do recommend is that every now and again you review your goals. You might find that you are frustrated due to the fact that you’ve set your goal too high – an unachievable challenge. Remember that most people engineer their own disappointments by having unrealistic expectations of what they’re capable of doing.

If you want to play like a great guitarist– let’s say Shawn Lane. And you decide that you want to become as fluent on the guitar as Shawn Lane. It would probably be unrealistic to achieve this within two years if you are at a semi-professional level. In fact, Shawn Lane is probably the world’s most fluent technical genius on guitar ever ! Am I saying it can’t be achieved? Oh no – I believe that all things are possible, and I believe that someone can learn to play better than Shawn Lane, if they have the faith to do so. I don’t think there is a limit to our playing ability. What I would say though is that one should be realistic about goals. And when I say realistic, I’m not saying that one should not have high ambitions. No, you must have high ambitions, but you do need to have a map or plan to reach those goals, and usually those goals will be reached by achieving smaller sets of goals first.

For example if someone decides to climb Mount Everest, that individual would be wise to first climb a smaller mountain in order to gain some experience. It would be downright foolhardy to climb out of Mount Everest with out having any prior experience in mountain climbing. In fact, it’s so foolhardy that this individual will probably never return from Mount Everest! (Under those circumstances)

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Posted by: In: Guitar Articles 29 Dec 2011 Comments: 0 Tags:

motivation

Learning how to play an instrument is not actually that much different to learning how to do anything else. You don’t need a tremendous amount of talent, skill and ability. You do need proper motivation and an excellent teacher if you want to learn how to play properly.

The biggest misconception about learning music is that children learn faster than adults.

This is simply not true. Children tend to pick things up fairly quickly, but remember they have no external stress in their lives. Most children are not concerned about making money, paying bills, investing money, looking after their family, booking a holiday and planning for the future.

Children are simply occupied with the task at hand. (which is why it’s a brilliant idea to imitate their behaviour – instead of fretting about the future!)

The constant overload of information makes learning more difficult as an adult. It’s not at all impossible to learn successfully, but proper motivation is needed and that’s the job of your teacher

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of all your best results come from 20% of your efforts.

In learning music, I believe that 80% of your success comes from your state of mind.

Being motivated to take action and learn certain passages, fingerings or difficult compositions will make you understand the seemingly impossible much faster than anything else.

Without motivation, many people give up trying to learn how to play an instrument, or they stop as soon as they hit a brick wall.

What is the perfect way to motivate, that’s the key question!

This is where psychology plays it’s part.

Motivation in terms of learning music is so much more than just teaching music. It’s listening to the needs of the student, listening to the desires and even encouraging the student when he or she had an awful day at work.

Basically if, your state of mind is depressed, you will not perform well in anything that you do regardless of your best efforts. If your state of mind is motivated and lifted up, then you will take that extra step forward that’s needed to help you learn a composition, play with both hands together, sing a high note or play chords on the guitar in perfect succession.

Motivation is, therefore, the biggest ingredient to your success in learning an instrument. (or succeeding in any other area of your life)

With excellent motivation and coaching, you will become the musician that you’ve always wanted to be. For some this might be to play basic chords on the guitar to accompany their singing for others it might be to play the most complex compositions on the piano.

It certainly doesn’t matter. What matters is that YOU achieve YOUR GOALS and DREAMS!

The only way to achieve them is with proper motivation and training. It’s not to say that it’s impossible to achieve this by teaching yourself, but an appropriate mentor will make you learn so much quicker and be that extra fuel that makes you go so much further (with less pain!)

Let’s recap: Motivation is key!

Yes, that’s right – motivation is key and when you learn an instrument 80% of your success comes from your state of mind (motivation) while 20% of your success comes from the actual practicing of your instrument.

Make sure you learn music with someone who can motivate and inspire you to learn and take your instrument as far as you choose to go! Remember it’s about YOUR GOALS and YOUR DREAMS.

I hope this article will help you understand the science behind learning music (or anything else). Whatever you do, make sure you have an endless supply of motivation!