Intermediate to Advanced Guitarists: Improvement, Yes, Even for You…

March 11th, 2010

It doesn’t take a genius to discover that the vast majority of lessons and guitar content on the web is directed toward the “beginner guitarist.” While this makes perfect sense, it does arrive as a frustration for the “intermediate to advanced guitarist” searching to take their level of play to an even higher level.

Beginner guitar lessons and content are easy because a lot of people need this information (think of how many “guitar made easy” lessons you’ve been flooded with of late). Over time, you’ll get to a point where you no longer need the help of others to play. Yet, I’m sure those intermediate and advanced guitarists are searching for a form to learn those advanced techniques. Intermediate to advanced guitarists need a challenge, because nothing is as frustrating as reaching a plateau and no longer feeling the need or means to improve.

Guitarists all around the globe face this problem. The question, then, is what do we do to continue and improve our skills? Intermediate to advanced musicians need a focus. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I realistically want to do with the guitar? Do I want to use the guitar as a means to make a living or merely as a hobby?
  2. If you want to start a band, what do you want to stand for? Ask yourself…What type of music do I want to create? What influences will I blend together to create my sound? Will I also write the lyrics or serve as a backdrop for someone else?
  3. What areas of guitar have I yet to explore and discover? If you think you already know the guitar, chances are you’re dead wrong. Will you merely learn the same thing over and over again, or expand and become a more versatile performer?

True art simply comes down to something that is a little unique and different from what everyone else is doing. If you really want to challenge yourself, you need to explore the guitar at all levels of it’s existence. Say you like country music…what’s stopping you from learning to play the blues? What’s stopping you from playing heavy metal?

Challenge yourself, because it’s likely the only source that actually wants you to succeed is you. If you don’t believe in yourself, than who will? If you really want to become a great guitarist, consider these lifestyle choices:

  1. Surround yourself with good musicians. You’re a product of your environment. If you meet other successful guitarists, not only will you share a common interest but you’ll also find a source of inspiration and motivation.
  2. Jam out to music. This may sound easy, but you need to make a promise that you’ll listen to  music in the right way. How do you listen to music in the right way? You explore all genres of music, learn what makes each genre special, and find ways to sprinkle those sounds into your own band.
  3. Connect with a complete beginner on the guitar. Not only will this “novice” think you’re a stud, but it will also help reaffirm your knowledge in the instrument. Keep in mind that even advanced guitarists need to go back to the basics from time to time. 
  4. Practice Wisely. I would say, “practice makes perfect,” but that’s an over-used cliché. The bottom line is that you need to practice consistently while also using that time wisely. Once you have become an intermediate to advanced guitarist, consider taking a little time out of each practice session to learn and try something new. Slowly develop those news skills into your arsenal. 
  5. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. It’s important to learn and “borrow” from others, however at the end of the day you need your own sound. Like snowflakes, there are no two guitarists in the world who are the same. Embrace that and find your own style. You don’t have to follow everything “by the book.”
  6. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, than who will? Have you ever noticed that a lot of the most popular guitarists in the world are not only very gifted but also supremely confident. It’s not an accidental coincidence.
  7. Last but not least, work through your weaknesses. Every great musician still lacks talent in certain areas. It’s important to not only learn your strengths but also your weaknesses.

While all of the above is very important, I still personally feel that the old cliché of “you’re never too old to learn” is quite possibly the most important thing you’ll ever learn while playing a music instrument. Advanced guitarists, you don’t know it all. You can still learn through a wide variety of online courses, DVD videos, and personal instructors which are predicated toward the “intermediate to advance” guitarist.

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