The first few weeks of learning to play electric guitar are an exciting time! The possibilities are endless! You’re learning new things and progressing every day. However, in order to make playing a part of your life, you need to practice regularly. This is where guitar players – and every musician – can fall short.
It’s not uncommon for both beginners and more experienced players to sometimes lose the motivation to pick up their guitar and practice. It happens. You can feel guilty about not practicing and it can make you think you’re not good enough.
But don’t let this bring you down. What you need are encouraging words from great guitarists who also went through the same phases as you. The top musicians you’re idolizing today did not start out already having the skills you admire. They also learned the basics and practiced. A lot. For years.
Here are some tips to remember when you’re feeling a bit demotivated or having a tough time learning to play guitar. These are all based on the experiences of the world’s most inspiring guitar players, so read on!
- Think about practice as physical preparation
When preparing for a tour, Brian May said he plays the guitar for at least an hour a day. This is to make sure that his fingers – particularly his calluses – are tough enough to play for the entire length of a show, which usually runs for more than two hours. May doesn’t really think of it as practice but rather as physical preparation for the amount of playing he has to do every night. For him, those calluses “determine everything.”
So folks, don’t worry about forming calluses. Worry about not having them, especially if you’re a performing musician. It may sound trivial, but you should be proud of those tough fingertips – they can do a lot for your endurance.
2. Make something up
In an interview, Slash admitted that his riff for “Sweet Child O’ Mine” started out as a “stupid exercise” he noodled around with every time he picked up a guitar, and that he didn’t really know how to practice properly. What he did (and probably still does) was to make up things that are difficult to play so that he could become better.
As you can see from this example, challenging yourself by coming up with something tricky to play not only improves your skills but could also lead to something greater.
3. Make playing music your ultimate goal
You don’t become a guitar player without practicing. Take it from Joe Satriani, who believes the ultimate goal of practicing is to be able to play music. No one buys tickets to watch you practice guitar – they’re there to see you play, and practicing will help you do just that. Satriani says,
The ultimate goal is playing music, being advocative, lifting people’s spirits, being an entertainer. It’s all part of it and the practicing is supposed to help you do that.”
Jeff Beck also said something similar when he advised players to “sit on your bed for about 30 years practicing.” If you want to enthrall the audience, you need to practice for four or five hours a day continuously or broken up into several sessions.
Nuno Bettencourt put it simply like this: “You want to be a good player – you practice!
We hope those pieces of advice from the pros give you the boost you need to practice. Now pick up your guitar and get to work.