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Ways You Can Learn to Play Guitar

Learning guitar nowadays has never been easier. Thanks to modern technology, you have dozens of avenues through which you can learn or improve. This article will explain a few of the options available to you and what they would involve.

Take Lessons in Person

Back in the day, there wasn’t a lot of choice with how you learned. You either learned on your own in your room, or you took lessons from a tutor. It really was like in the movies. Some musician in town took you on as a student. That was when there weren’t so many guitarists around. Now, you can throw a stone and hit someone who knows how to play guitar.

Many guitarists give lessons on a one-on-one basis or in group classes. Depending on how you learn and the teacher you find, either one of these option may be best for you. Many beginners and intermediate players alike find in-person lessons the most effective because you can get constant feedback from a knowledgeable mentor. This is also ideal if you have a hard time disciplining yourself. A teacher can keep you in check with your practice.

If you are going to join a group class, remember that you won’t be getting as much individual attention, so try to go for as small a group class as possible.

Take Lessons Online

There are countless instructors that you can find for a fraction of the price of in-person lessons if you just scour the internet. You can also find some more expensive but higher quality lessons online from some of the top guitarists in the world. Online lessons are conducted through video chat, and are not far off from having lessons in person. You will be able to get undivided individual attention from an instructor that fits your needs best. This option is especially perfect for people who don’t have easy access to good guitar instructors in their own area. All you really need is a good internet connection, a webcam, and high quality headphones/speakers and a mic.

Take a MOOC Course

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. There are scores of free online courses that you can take to get at least the basics of guitar playing, and often some even more advanced content as well. Many of these courses do indeed put you in touch with an instructor, and even more so allow students to work together, help to review one another’s work, and make long-lasting connections. Again, all you need is a good internet connection, some pretty basic software, and speakers or headphones and a microphone.

Teach Yourself

A surprising number of people learn all by themselves, perhaps more so now than ever before, thanks to technology. You won’t necessarily have to spend a cent on anything either. There are thousands of free videos, apps, and sites online that can teach you everything from the most basics to the most complex techniques and songs. Learn your favorites songs using apps and free software, get in touch with other players through forums and sites, and master the instrument with great ease. The caveat here is that you need to be disciplined. Without a teacher, it can be difficult to keep up a practice regimen. That’s why, if you take this route, it’s not just a matter of learning the songs you like as and when you feel like it. Playing guitar requires consistent, regular practice, even when you are not trying to learn something new or play in public. Without doing so, your progress largely deteriorates.

These, in essence, are the ways you can learn to play guitar. One or two of these may work better for you than others, so it’s a good idea to consider your learning styles and try a few to find out. Often a combination of two or more of these can be even better.

Tips for Learning the Notes on the Fretboard

It can feel extremely tough trying to figure out the notes on the fretboard, but really all it takes is a bit of practice. Consistent and regular practice. Here are some tips to incorporate into your practicing that will make learning the notes on the fretboard a whole lot easier.

Learn the Open Notes First

It’s important for your playing to learn the notes of the strings plucked open first. They are E-D-G-B-E. Then, pressing down on each string at the 12th fret will give you the same open note one octave higher. A handy way to learn the notes is by pressing the bass E string at the fifth fret and then the D string open. Notice that they are the same? Likewise, the fifth fret on the D string is a G. The fifth fret on the G string is a B, but the fourth fret on the B string is an E.

Learn Every E Note

Every day, spend a few minutes learning all the different positions of a single note. The first string plucked open, for instance, is an E. Now find all the other Es on the board as part of your practice every day until you can find them without trouble. Then move on to the next note, and the next, and so on.

Learn Each String at a Time

Another way some people have found useful is to learn all the notes in order for each string from week to week. Go down the string naming each note as you go along, first out loud, starting with the open note. As this becomes easier, start doing this naming each note in your mind only. Then continue by doing it without naming. Finally, do it without looking. Then go on to the next one. If it is relatively easy for you, you can do this with all the strings instead of just mastering one at a time and continue with the same method.

Learn Scales and Modes

First, learn the notes of each scale. This will help you to identify by name each note you are playing when you learn the scale on guitar. Spend each week or a couple of weeks at a time devoting a part of your practice to learn a new scale or mode. Make sure to learn it throughout the entire fretboard. Your ears must get used to the sound of these notes in sequence because they are what make up every song you will ever hear or play. Continue to practice a single scale until you master it and can literally play it with your eyes close before moving on to the next one.

Use a Fretboard Guide

This is a cheap fretboard sticker or sticker set that you can buy to put on your guitar. The sticker has little colored dots showing the notes on each fret. It can be removed and repasted as many times as you want. Many guitarists would advise against using one of these because they believe it to be something students will get dependent on. I disagree for the simple fact that over time, you commit the motions to muscle memory anyway. I do however advise that you remove the guide and try the other tips on this list as part of your practice before putting it back on again. This way you will benefit from the guide while also preventing a potential dependence.

In addition to all of this, it will greatly help you to learn to read tabs and to read guitar sheet music. It will make learning from different sources a lot easier and communicate with any other musician a breeze.

Tips and Tricks for Novice Guitarists

As a beginner, learning to play the guitar can be daunting and frustrating. As you progress, learning something new becomes a whole lot easier. But until then, the road is quite tough. Of course, it doesn’t need to be. There are plenty of nifty little tricks you can use to make sure you progress a lot faster. Here are a few to get your going.

Do Finger Exercises

One of the problems I had when I first started learning to play was that I couldn’t play for more than a couple of minutes without my fretting fingers hurting like crazy. It was an indication that I lacked finger strength. It’s not just strength that you need to build up, though. You need dexterity and flexibility too. Learning some good finger exercises, and some scales, and incorporating them into your warm ups, warm downs, and practicing will vastly speed up your progress. Here are some good ones to start with:

 

Get Gripmasters

To speed things up, even more, give your hands a workout even when you aren’t playing guitar. You can get these hand exercisers at different strengths to give your fingers, wrists, and forearms a good workout. Start with what you can handle and then gradually work your way up. They’re not just for athletes, they are actually a not-so-secret trick that guitarists have been using for a long time.

Practice Every Single Day

Without fail. Even if you are busy, you have to make time to put in a bit of practice, at least for 15 minutes each day. This is essential so that your muscles stay active and your muscle memory doesn’t get thrown off. The longer you go without practice, the rustier you will get, and the more difficult it will be later to get back into the swing of things. Forgoing practice means that your progress will deteriorate and you will have to start from square one all over again.

Get Useful Apps and Software

Some of the apps you must have include tuner apps, chord dictionaries, and tab apps. These will help you learn without having to depend on your computer or lessons, or long searches online. You should also consider getting guitar software like Guitar Pro, which will help you to learn tabs, read music, and practice. Apps and software like this will help to teach you timing and give you speed training, among other helpful features.

Have a Tutor

There’s nothing quite like a real person to help you improve and polish your techniques. You may be able to learn a lot of websites, apps, and tutorials online, but only a real human can tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right. Try to find an in-person tutor who will give you one-on-one lessons that you get full, individual attention. Alternatively, there are plenty of instructors who will charge very little for lessons online. You just need a webcam, mic, speakers or headphones, and a good internet connection.

Perform

You don’t have to perform for open mic nights or anything like that. But try to perform for friends and family, jam with other musicians in your circle, and just have a bit of fun. This is a great way to get used to playing in front of people, but it also encourages you to play better and to practice. This is especially true when you see your friends and family impressed with your playing or improvement. If you feel like it, though, open mic nights are a good idea too.

These are just some of the ways you can improve your playing quite quickly and markedly. The most important thing, however, is that you keep at it. That’s the one surefire way to know that you will improve, no matter what the pace may be.

The Five Oldest Bands Still Performing Today

It seems like every day now, a new band is popping up and another one is disbanding or their star is simply fading. But there are dozens of bands who are still doing holding strong decades, drugs, and grandchildren later. Here are five of the oldest bands of all time that are still gigging today.

1.      ZZ Top – 47 Years

More people probably know ZZ Top by their look than their sound. This band has a great boogie rock style to their music, but it’s their iconic beards that they are so well known for. The beards are so part of their identity (aside from the fact that one of them has the last name Beard), that they once turned down $1 million to shave off their beards. These fun-loving guys never stopped for hiatus since their formation in 1969. They have once more become pop culturally relevant with appearances in movies and on shows like the Tonight Show, where Conan O’Brien and Will Ferrell performed with them.

2.      Rush – 48 Years

Canadian Band Rush is known for an iconic sound, especially thanks to singer Geddy Lee. You’ve probably heard Rush, but if you haven’t, your dad and mom definitely have rocked out to them. This band hasn’t stopped playing since they formed in 1968. They started off as a blues band and evolved to incorporate all kinds of music including reggae! They are known for being one of the earliest bands to experiment with odd time signatures and sci-fi concepts in their music. Their documentary just came out in November 2016, and it’s worth a watch. They’ve had a huge influence on the bands of today, perhaps most notable, Dream Theater.

3.      Scorpions – 51 Years

Everyone knows the German band Scorpions, at least for two songs: Rock You Like a Hurricane and Wind of Change. But they’ve had dozens of huge hits, one of my favorites being Still Loving You. This band is another icon of the 70s and 80s, and they have kept up their recording and performing since 1965 without even a day of hiatus. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015 with a new album called Return to Forever, and boy, they’ve still got it! Here they are rocking out hard just a few months ago.

4.      The Who – 52 Years

The Who? The Who. That’s their name. If you don’t know them by name, you definitely know them by song. Have you ever watched any of the CSIs? Every single one of those theme songs is by The Who. This English band has been playing since 1964, with only a few years of being inactive. These guys have had a powerful influence on the other bands of their time, including the Beatles, as well as the bands of today, from the music to the instruments used. There are several musical instruments and gear named after and for these musicians.

5.      The Rolling Stones – 54 Years

You’ve probably heard plenty of jokes about these guys, but they really have never stopped, no matter how many times they intended to. For more than half a century, the Rolling Stones have been rocking out, not even stopping once for a hiatus. This band has been through hell and back (which really makes you wonder if they sold their souls), just read Keith Richard’s autobiography. The first pages alone start with an anecdote about narrowly avoiding a drug bust. With all the crazy stuff they’ve said and done, it’s a wonder they’re still around, but they are the only number one for this list!

Hope you liked this wacky list of old bands. Have a listen to some of the bands you haven’t heard before. They’re not still performing for no reason, after all.

How to Choose a Guitar Teacher

Back in the day, there were only three ways to learn how to play guitar. You had to learn on your own, enroll in music school, or find a tutor somewhere in town. Today, there are hundreds of options for budding guitarists. You can learn from online lessons and tutorials completely for free, or you can still go with one of the many tutors in town. Or you could even learn from some of the best guitarists in the world, who happen to still love teaching people and give lessons via video call.

Having so many options can leave people spoilt for choice. But since there is nothing quite like having a real human teacher to interact with and help you learn, here are some tips for making the right choice.

Decide How Much You Can Spend

How much you can afford will largely affect whom you choose as a teacher. A pro teacher, including some of the famous guitarists who offer lessons, is likely to charge hundreds per lesson. But the upside is that you’ll get top-notch training and guidance from the best of the best. A month of classes from an in-person tutor can cost about $15-$25 a lesson. More or less, depending on the skill level of the guitarist and where they are. You could also get a full month of lessons online for the same price. However, if you are really desperate, you can forgo the teacher altogether and use tutorials and lesson apps to learn.

Think about Style

If you have a specific style in mind that you are going for, then you might want to attend the lessons of someone who is known for that particular style. For instance, a lot of my friends who give lessons are either metal guitarists or jazz guitarists, but they’re good at several different styles. However, almost all their students come to them largely because of the style they are known for. This is quite simply because who better to teach you the nuances of those genres and styles than the patrons themselves?

Ask Them about Experience

Even if you don’t have a specific style in mind, everyone needs the same basics. Now, a foundation can be laid for a beginner even by a slightly more advanced beginner. But this is not a good idea because only a more experienced player who has been teaching for some time will have been through and corrected a lot of the common mistakes novices make. Moreover, they will be able to spot these mistakes in their students and correct them before they become a bad playing habit. Simple things such as how you grip the guitar, how you hold the guitar pick, and so on can actually revolutionize your playing. Make sure your prospective teacher has been playing for a long time and teaching for at least a few years. Also find out whether they have played in bands or solo. Try to find a teacher that has experience playing in the kind of settings you see yourself playing in.

Find out Their Methodology

Don’t jump straight into a course without finding out how the teacher is going to be teaching you. A good teacher will be able to take your goals into account and guide you towards them. There is only so much one-size-fits-all when it comes to guitar playing. Everyone learns at different paces and in different ways. So if the teacher is planning to teach you certain chords by this date and this much songs by that date, they’re not for you. A guitar teacher should be tailoring their lessons to your abilities and interests. If you are a beginner, for instance, and you want to learn rock songs, wouldn’t you be put off if your teacher taught you some chords and then tried to make you learn to play Counting Stars by the One Republic? Not when you could use the same chords to learn Castles Made of Sand by Hendrix or More Than a Feeling by Boston!

Other things that you should be looking at include their personality. If they don’t seem like someone you can click with and get along with, it’s going to be hard to learn. Think about the teachers you didn’t like and the ones you did from your school. Try to find teachers with the qualities you liked and without the ones you didn’t. The better your relationship with the teacher the easier it will be to stay interested and learn.

Of course, this means also considering teaching style. If you respond better to highly disciplined teachers, make sure that the guitar teacher is like this and not so casual. It also helps if the teacher is still performing them.

Above all, make sure that the teacher is a lover of music. This way you can be sure they are not just doing it for the money or for the sake of doing the job.

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