Are you looking to take your guitar playing to the next level? If so there are a variety of things you can do to enhance your playing, no matter what level musician you are today. Learning to play guitar is a very incremental process, and like many other things things have a tendency to hit plateaus where they settle in at a particular level for an extended period of time.
These plateaus can be frustrating. The story goes sort of like this: You find a source for learning or inspiration and you take in all you can. You learn new things, change your habits and behaviors, and practice, practice, practice. You achieve results and you feel fantastic; but before long frustration sets in as you get into a rut with your new behaviors and seem to level off a bit — the incremental improvements slow drastically or stop altogether. While you still maintain a new steady-state level of playing, breaking out to the next level is often difficult without changing things up a bit.
Here are a few ideas for changing it up and unleashing a new passion for your art:
Take a Lesson
While this may seem a bit obvious, it's actually a piece of advice that many guitarists fail to take, particularly once they've passed a certain level of playing. Lessons with a qualified teacher offer an un-ending stream benefits. If you're already actively taking lessons you might then consider taking lessons with a new teacher for period of time. Like so many things in life, sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to inspire you to travel new paths in your musical journey.
While many guitarists are basically trained, there are also many gifted guitarists who are not. One of the key elements that untrained guitarists miss out on is a solid understanding of music theory. Simply put, music theory is the analysis and understanding of how ALL of the elements of music really fit together. There are many sources to learn about music theory, including college classes, guitar / music instructors who specialize in theory, books, videos, and a variety of web resources available. The point here is that sometimes taking your guitar to the next level is more intellectual than it is hands-on the guitar.
Play with other (new) musicians
This is really one of my personal favorites. Perhaps you're playing with a band today, or you jam with some friends occasionally; maybe you play alone in your bedroom or along with your favorite CDs —- it almost does not matter – Simply change it. Find some new friends to jam with. Hit the guitar shop, or online and look for ads to jam or join a band. Go to an open jam or open mic night at a local club. And remember, for those in a band already, this is not about being disloyal to your band-mates, it's about expanding your own horizons so that you can be that much better when you play with them.
I've truly saved the best for last, because if there is one solution that incorporates all of the others in some way it is YouTube, and other similar online video sites. There is an incredibly deep and wide set of resources to help you improve your playing on YouTube. Like anything else on the web, you need to wade through the bad stuff to get the good, but I assure you that the good outweighs the bad tenfold. Many very reputable instructors and talented guitarists post free lessons and "how-to" videos for players of all levels. Some great examples include:
· How to play particular songs — just search for "how to play xxxx on guitar" and you'll be blown away by the content
· How to play Scales —- every scale imaginable
· Chords —- every chord variation imaginable
· Particular Music types: eg blues, metal, folk, etc.
· Backing Tracks — yes you can jam with a whole host of backing tracks in all musical styles
· Tricks and Tips: eg tapping, pull-offs, etc.
I speak to you from experience. I've been playing guitar for more years than I care to admit, but the content on YouTube alone has turned my own guitar playing up to new levels simply because of the broad exposure to different musicians and types of music.
Learning guitar can be a richly rewarding experience. At the same time it can be difficult and frustrating, especially when you hit a plateau in your capacities; but if you want to keep it exciting and continue to improve, change it up. Introduce new effects and teachers into your playing and you'll find new levels of achievement.