LESSON SERIES - Part Two: Guitar for Beginners...

Keeping things fresh and avoiding repeating the same exercises or songs while practicing is a high priority if you want to steer clear of beating your head against the wall in frustration.

To help with this, you should try at least one new song part, scale or exercise every time you practice. This could also be a new chord, a new chord progression, a new strumming pattern, a guitar solo or even just a blues lick. Adding new ideas constantly, will greatly benefit your playing.

You might think that locking yourself in your bedroom or basement with your guitar for eight hours a day straight is the way to go, and perhaps it has worked for some guitarists in the past.However, you'll need much more of a plan if you really hope to see progress. A practice schedule sheet is extremely helpful. Log your time frames, days for study and tempos.

In the long run, you would be better off practicing for shorter time periods and more often. Study using short time frames is going to be far more effective than doing a long session once a week, (obviously). Beginners should aim for 20 min. to half an hour’s practice a day to maintain a steady, and effective, learning curve.You could also break your time up, and practice for 15 min. one time of the day, and 15 min. at another point in the day.

Playing to a metronome can be an annoying thought, even for guitarists that have been playing for months, but using a metronome and keeping time is a valued skill to acquire as early as possible in your musical quest.

By playing guitar with a metronome, and by building your inner sense of rhythm, you will see improvements in timing, accuracy and speed much sooner than if you didn't use one. The benefits of building an inner sense of time and meter will be one of the most important skills you ever will gain as a musician.

Hold back any feelings of being at all intimidated by pieces or guitar techniques that look or feel complicated to play. Instead, learn songs and techniques part by part, and measure by measure. This way they will be much easier to grasp. In other words, break down passages that are difficult to play into short, bite-sized chunks. And, do the same with your study of guitar techniques.

Musical ideas won’t seem overwhelming if you go through them in smaller more manageable segments. This is yet another reason why practice schedules can be so valuable. The material will be 'pre-planned' within a practice schedule. And, it will be well organized ahead of your personal feelings. This can be particularly useful for learning long-term difficult techniques such as sweep picking, complex finger-style or speed picking.

Power-chords are one of the most common chord types that guitarists play. Rock, heavy metal and punk are best known for powerchord riffing, but no matter what style of music you listen to or play, there are sure to be powerchords involved somewhere.

Your aim should be to change fret-board positions quickly, but without losing the hand shape and grip of the power-chord.The fretting hand's index and ring fingers need to become quite locked up in order for the power-chord to operate well and to sound clear. however, the hand should never be under stress or stiff feeling.

Hold your fingers in the shape of the chord as you change position, resisting any urge to let your fingers relax and move away from the strings very far. The closer your fingers can stay to the strings, the less distance they will have to travel, and the smoother your chord changes will sound.

The skills you gain from learning to move the power-chord around the neck will bleed over into many other areas of your guitar playing. This is why having at least some skills early on with the power-chord pattern, (both using the smaller root & 5th, as well as, the root, 5th and octave types),will prove to be so beneficial.

Tune in Tomorrow for more tips in Part Three of this, "Guitar for Beginners," series...


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