Playing Guitar Like You Know What You’re Doing

I was flipping through a couple back issues of Guitar World Magazine and stumbled on an article “100 tips for better guitar playing” in May 2012’s issue ; I know, “way to stay current,” but good advice is timeless. I’ve picked up a new copy of the magazine almost every time I’ve seen a new one on the stands since forever (I should probably sign up for a subscription). Guitar World and Guitar Player have re-incarnated the “100 tips” story in different forms over the years and I’ve found it indispensable.

I’m excited to be writing about music making, because I love playing so much and it’s one of my favorite topics. Reading the “100 tips” re-awakened my passion of sharing musical knowledge. I taught guitar a couple years ago and although I only had one student I’d get so excited and nervous before every lesson thinking of necessary materials and teaching methods. I’ll jump on any opportunity I can to teach friends, jam, or have a great discussion about music.

I’m not a proffessional musician. I’ve made a handful of coins busking. I reached peak musical earnings ($40.00 in coinage) for busking a few hours outside a Walmart mid-summer in Kitchener-Waterloo; I was wearing a tweed jacket resembling a car floor mat and sweating like a virgin on prom night.

I’ve written and recorded a few songs which have been well received by the people who heard them and of course I think they’re great. I’m not the most sociable guy and I’m not a complete babe magnet which has likely limited some of my musical success. I’m certain if I follow some of the advice in this article musical success will be forth-coming (and that’s my guarantee).

Self Mastery:

I think one of the ironies of becoming a prolific musician (or prolific at anything) is while our ability grows we bloom in other ways. I’ve noticed as my musicianship has improved I yearn less for the sort of fame and fortune I so desperately wanted at 18. I was severely uncomfortable with myself at 18 and I looked at being famous as a solution to my problems, a magic cure-all fix for pain.

I tried very hard to show every one I was something extraordinary without particularly believing it myself. I thought I had confidence, but I would get drunk in order to play. I thought I believed in my value, but I looked outside myself for validation.

You’re probably asking yourself:  what does any of this have to do with being a better guitar player?

Guitar playing like writing, martial arts, painting, meditation, flying jets, and marathon running is all about self-mastery. Having a motivation which isn’t ethereal or fleeting like being famous will give you a better chance of sticking with it through the hours of practice, the sore fingers, and other difficulties you may encounter on the road to becoming a great guitar player. The pure enjoyment and the pride of accomplishment will be worth enduring the tedium of running over a particular measure 400 times to make sure you have the right flow through the music.

The 5 Keys To Mastery is a free video on YouTube about mastery and how it can help you be more successful in any endeavour. Improving yourself in any way is going to improve your art,  work, and relationships.

I recommend reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

-even if you don’t feel you’re the ‘artistic’ type Cameron’s advice can guide you to a more creative life.

Come back for part 2, when I’ll be discussing the benefits of musical journaling, how to get the most out of watching live music, and more.





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