I’ve played guitar for about ten years and over this period I’ve had moments of major breakthroughs in developing my skills and moments when I feel like I’m actually getting worse! So here are three things that I have experienced that have contributed to my moments of magical music breakthrough.
GO OUT OF STYLE
I’ve found that I make my biggest breakthroughs when I branch out into a new style/genre of music. When you force you ear and guitar playing to adapt to a new style of music, it expands your arsenal of techniques that you can use in your own ‘jamming’. For example, try listening to some Blues. If you have never played Blues before, you will need to pick up a completely new strumming and chord progression technique. You will learn new chords that are characteristic of the genre, which you can bring into other area of your own playing. Once you’ve picked up a new technique, be sure to play to over a good couple of times solidifying the technique into your finger memory.
GET A NEW GUITAR (or borrow one – they’re expensive!)
Only recently have I come to understand how various guitars are designed in certain ways to make particular sounds. With this in mind, what I’ve found helps learning new styles and techniques are playing on different guitars. Now I know what you thinking, “I’m not going to now go buy a new guitar”. That’s where fellow musicians can be helpful, go visit a friend who has a different style of guitar to yours. The most prominent/obvious change I have experienced, that seriously reignited my passion, was moving from an acoustic guitar to electric. Seriously, if you are a guitarist and have not played both you are missing out. Another example would be moving from steel string to nylon stings.
One’s own playing can sometimes get a bit repetitive. My last suggestion, is if you find yourself playing the same stuff over and over put your instrument down and take a little break to get some inspiration. Find some new music, get into it a bit and try simulating it when you pick your instrument up again.
What advice would YOU give other guitarists who have reached a plateau in their playing? Are you going to try out some of these tips? Leave a comment below and we’ll see you next week with another guest post!
Richard Baker is a student at Rhodes University and musically is a “jack of all trades”. He plays many instruments ranging from guitar to didgeridoo and explores a wide range of genres.