5 Tips to Help You Dust Off that Guitar and Get Playing AGAIN

“I tried to learn the guitar in the past, but couldn’t find an approach that worked for me.”  “How can I play my favorite songs as quickly as possible?” 

Does this sound like you?  You’re not alone.  Many people feel this way, and taking the first step back is often the hardest part.  Here are some tips to help you begin to enjoy the guitar like you always wanted to. 

1.  Keep the guitar out.  To get back into the habit of playing, you want to make it as easy as possible to pick up the guitar and play whether it is for a scheduled practice or any time you feel the urge to play.  If you like, keep it covered with a cloth to reduce dust building up over time, but avoid locking it away in the case and storing it in the closet. 

2.  Have all of your accessories handy.  Picks, tuner, music, pen, music paper, method books. Keep these items near your guitar. 

3.  Carry some picks throughout the day.  Keep them with your loose change in your pocket.  These little reminders keep you focused on your goals. 

4.  Listen to guitar music and be inspired.  Avoid comparing yourself to other players.  Rather, use the achievements of great players for ideas as you forge your own path. 

5.  You are never done.  One of the beautiful things about a musical instrument is that the possibilities are limitless.  Measure your success by the joy you take from mastering a new skill and never put an end date on your learning. 

The first thing most of us want to do when we pick up the guitar is strum a few chords.  (That is, after it is tuned.  For a detailed refresher course on tuning the guitar, bookmark this link: www.instrumentalmusician.com/guitar-extras 

The rhythmic strumming of chords to support vocals and melody is one of the guitar’s strengths and the part of playing that most of us gravitate to first.  This is why it can be challenging when studying the guitar to start from the beginning with single note playing and reading music, but more on that later. 

Reviewing those familiar chord shapes or learning some of them for the first time is a lot of fun.  The challenge comes in moving smoothly between chords while playing a song.  Here are some bonus tips that will help improve the transition between chords: 

1.  Take the chords from a song and make an exercise that is practiced briefly and can be improved quickly instead of leaving it to be the part of the song that always slows you down.  

2.  Take the chord that is difficult and practice making the form on the strings and taking your hand away, then forming the chord, then taking your away, etc.

3.  Play a short two to three note melodic line, then switch to playing the chord.  Repeat.  

4.  To add some more interest, vary the strumming style as you play the chord.  This is also a good time to check to see if each note is sounding correctly.

 5.  If a chord shape is very difficult at first, don’t be afraid to reposition some fretting fingers with your other hand while you learn the chord.  

6.  Use gentle but firm pressure on the strings and take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue. 

Learning chord progressions like the 12-bar blues can help you learn thousands of songs quickly after memorizing it. (For a detailed description of the 12-bar blues, bookmark this link: www.instrumentalmusician.com/guitar-extras

The I-vi-IV-V is another very common progression.  (Roman numerals are used to describe the chords used.)  Learning this progression in all 12 major keys can prepare you to play thousands of your favorite songs.  It appears extensively in popular music from the 50’s and 60’s up through today. 

The benefit of studying this progression instead of other popular progressions such as the 12-bar blues is that it contains a minor chord.  Learning the progression in all 12 major keys means that you also study all 12 minor chords. 



"Mastering Guitar Chords" features all open position major and minor chords as well as some barre chords that can be studied in a meaningful way and applied to the performance of music you know and love…quickly! 

Bookmark this link to learn more about this novel approach to mastering guitar chords in open position and to get back to playing the songs you know and love.  www.instrumentalmusician.com/store 

P.S.  If you are interested in learning all you’ll need to know about reading standard notation for guitar, learning all of the note names in open position, and develop skills towards advanced single note playing on the guitar, also check out the Quick Start Guide to the Guitar: www.instrumentalmusician.com/store  This method book is designed to improve playing techniques for beginners and experienced players alike through original melodies and studies that focus on the techniques being explored.