Like anything worth doing, learning to play guitar takes time.
Whether you’re in guitar lessons or learning on your own, there is no such thing as a shortcut.
But this should be seen as good news!
Playing guitar is a lot of fun even at the beginning stages. If you enjoy the process, there is no need to try to speed things up.
That being said, it can be tempting to look around and decide that you are somehow behind.
Whether you’re looking at friends who have been playing longer than you, or watching the 9 year old shredding the blues on youtube, there is always something out there to make us want to take our playing further.
One mistake I see is when people try to “catch up” by working on several things at once and trying to multitask in their guitar practice.
The idea that you can just do more and speed up your progress is tempting to buy into - but unless you have several hours a day to practice (and the attention span/stamina to match), it just doesn’t work out that way.
The best way for you to make progress in your guitar playing is to be patient, and work on one thing at a time.
No Substitute For Time And Effort
As much as we all may want it, there is no substitute for accepting your current ability level, and putting in the time and effort to improve.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, or an advanced college level guitar player. There is always something you can do to improve your playing.
There’s no magic way to speed the learning process up - practicing regularly and working on new material over time is the best way to improve your guitar playing.
Instead of looking for a magic formula, a better strategy is to pick one area of your playing and work on it for a little while.
Let’s say you’re working with some new chords, and they are a challenge for you.
Your best bet is going to be to work with those chords daily (or as close as you can get) for a few weeks.
Try them in different chord progressions, at different speeds, and try to find songs to play that use those chords.
Once you’re feeling more comfortable with the chords, move on to another skill, like scales or arpeggios and repeat the process. (Or find some new chords to play if that’s what you want to do)
A Recipe For Frustration
There are tons of programs out there for developing different guitar skills, and plenty of guitar players who sound great on youtube.
Looking at all of this, it’s tempting to try to work on a little bit of everything to “catch up” to where you think you should be.
Unfortunately, this is a recipe for frustration and low skill levels.
Instead of getting a little bit good at a lot of things, you’ll end up almost being able to do some things.
I’ve met students and older players who were so scattered in their practice sessions, they really couldn’t improve on much of anything.
The problem here is that it’s mentally exhausting to try and do everything at once.
Luckily for you, this “recipe for frustration” can easily be avoided.
Do One Thing At A Time
You’re actually better off improving on one area of your guitar playing at a time. This works in your favor because you can put all of your focus into improving on one skill.
It can be scary to do this. Some of my students worry that by focusing mainly on scales for a few weeks, their abilities with chords will disappear.
Luckily, it doesn’t work that way.
By putting all of your focus onto one area of your playing, you’re giving yourself a real chance to improve on that particular skill.
The other areas of your playing won’t go away (especially if you spend some of your time playing songs that use those other skills).
Focus on one area of your guitar playing for now - there is time to work on other skills later.
In guitar lessons, I have my students work on one area of their playing (chords, scales, arpeggios) for 2 - 3 weeks before moving to focus on another area of their playing.
Cycling the learning material like this lets you really get deep into each guitar skill, and keeps the lesson material fresh and interesting over time.
Give it a try in your practicing for a little bit.
Focus on just scales, chords, or arpeggios for a few weeks. Once that particular skill is easier, shift your focus to another of those skills.
As a bonus, try to make time for playing songs as a part of your daily sessions.
This will keep your other skills under your fingers in a kind of “maintenance mode” as you improve in another area.
Keep playing, and let me know how it goes! Contact me to get in touch, ask questions, or try a guitar lesson today!