With the new year getting less “new” by the day, chances are you may have already floundered on any new year’s resolutions. But wait; some things are both more achievable and plain fun than eating organic vegan/committing to household budget spreadsheets/adopting a goat. Really!
When it comes to playing guitar, it really is possible to promise yourself: I will improve in new year. But it does take effort. Some players are simply super-human and get better without even noticing or trying. Most of us – yep, me too – need a plan.
Without any further ado – we don’t want to waste time that could be used perfecting a new mung bean casserole diet – here’s just 10 ideas to incorporate into your new year guitar regime. One of them is about sharing. So, please, add your own and let’s get a discussion started!
1. Play Every Day
Easier said than done, we know! But if you de-clutter and rearrange, you can make sure your guitar is always to hand. At this point, don’t even worry about what you play. Just make sure your guitar is there, and that you do play. Every day.
2. Keep A Guitar Journal
Any personal trainer/psychologist will tell you that people who record goals and aims are more likely to actually achieve them if they write them down. When it comes to guitar, again, it doesn’t so much matter what you write down, just that you do. It could be: “Monday: learn new 7th chord inversions” or “Thursday: I need new strings.” Make sure you record your achievements, too: it will keep you motivated and give you a good sense of progress.
3. Practice Smarter
This interlocks with having a journal, of course. Smarter practice means knowing what you want to achieve and how/when you go about it. And how you measure up week on week (ouch)! A separate topic itself, really, so let’s just spring an evergreen alert of who says Practice Makes Perfect.
4. Take Care Of Your Guitar
If you’ve resolved to better care for your own body in new year, do it for your guitar too. A neglected guitar won’t inspire you… too often, players (ok, me!) decide they need a new one rather simply giving your main axe some TLC.
5. Expand your vocabulary
This can apply to chords, voicings, scales… Truth is, it’s all too easy to “stick to what you know” and just repeat. Of all the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of words in English, scholars reckon Shakespeare invented about 1700! Ok, the bearded bard was hardcore, but you get the picture. I still don’t really know what diminished chords are all about (even though I think I play them without knowing it.) So: I’ve got a resolution to learn about them. What about you?
6. Swap Your Instruments
Got 5 electrics but no good acoustic? Or vice versa? Or all guitars and no bass? Don’t let it be so! Transferring your skills onto a different member of the guitar family can yield surprising results for both your technique and writing smarts. Ask a twangin’ friend for a temporary trade if you don’t want to commit to a full purchase straight away. (It’s like a free month’s introductory gym membership… with strings attached!)
7. Listen More, Listen Harder
Les Paul once said, “People listen with their eyes.” In the wired world, this seems truer than ever, with music’s just become something happening in the background or the soundtrack to some eye candy. Even if you’re on a dedicated learning spree, there’s much merit in watching YouTubes and lesson videos, but… you should maybe resolve to actually listen more to what your favorite players do. Phrasing, timing, attack… the nuances of sound are best appreciated by your ears (thanks Captain Obvious!)
Not sure about you’re playing? Ask a fellow player. Wide-open public sharing on social media usually requires a thick skin due to excessive trolling, but in my experience, guitar players are a generous, encouraging breed. There are numerous Facebook, MeetUp and numerous other style-based, artist-related or tuition groups. Get involved.
9. Record Yourself
If you’re not ready to share, at least record yourself. There are loads of tutorials online, too. Listening to yourself will help you understand what aspects of your playing you may need or want to work on.
10. Join a band!
The big one, if you’re a play-at-home kind. But from informal jamming/writing sessions to fully-fledged gigging outfits, nothing will improve your playing more than playing with other musicians. You may suck! But you’ll likely have fun and make new friends. Where’s anything wrong with that, huh?
Wait… we are not done yet
Since you read till point 10, here is one more extra as a bonus.
If you’re pretty skilled, why not consider teaching? You don’t have to know music theory, honestly. There are plenty of beginners out there seeking help with the real basics – chords, timing, strumming, picking – and it’s immensely rewarding. You may not even get paid, but even just be volunteering you’ll help others and reignite your own passion for guitar. Fact: it’s also good for your happiness. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,” said Muhammad Ali. Okay, those gloves may have made him a lousy guitar player, but you know he’s right!
We Wish You A Good Luck!!!