To be able to improve as a guitarist, it really helps to know exactly where you’re at right now. By spending a couple minutes working out where you’re at now you might find that most of the practice you have been working on isn’t what you need. Spend a couple minutes answering the questions below:
- When you practice, do you ‘just play’ or do you really focus and push yourself to do better?
- Do you fully understand the theory behind the chords and scales you use?
- When you improvise, do you often repeat the same ideas and licks or do you push yourself to try something completely different each time?
- How many different styles of music have you studied? When was the last time you tried to learn a completely different style?
- Can you figure out the notes to any basic chord without using any reference material?
- When was the last time you tried to figure out how to play a lick or riff by ear instead of simply looking up the TAB?
All of the above points make a big difference to your development over time. For example: players who ‘just play’ may think they are doing the right thing but unfortunately their development will plateau very early. A player who focuses on really making improvements will always end up a better player. When you push yourself to become a better player you will achieve it. Don’t overlook any of the above points as each one will make a huge difference to your abilities and understanding of music.
Another way you can figure out your current level of abilities is to record yourself playing and listen back to it. Record yourself improvising then ask yourself these questions:
- How many notes didn’t fit with what you were playing?
- How many notes were out of tune (eg: bends pushed too far)?
- Does your playing sound musical or did it sound like randomly played notes and scale runs?
- How much noise did you hear (eg: strings ringing out, fretting noise) that distracted from the actual playing?
- What was your tone like?
Answering tough questions like these and really putting the microscope on your own playing is the best way to find out any problems and become a better player. If you honestly think you’re doing everything fine, then you won’t improve. It’s the player who criticizes his/her own playing that really makes the progress.
Don’t just gloss over these questions, really spend the time answering them and you will find it will be worth it. Check out our lessons here for ways to improve your understanding and read through our articles here to think about your practice and playing in different ways.