Learning how to play guitar is not easy. In fact it is actually bloody difficult if you have set your heart on becoming the next Steve Vai or Eddie Van Halen. However, if your main aim is to simply hold a tune and perhaps eventually play in a band then learning how to play guitar does not have to be difficult.
Sadly many people take up playing the guitar only to give up soon after. The main reason behind this is that they start learning how to play guitar all fired up with enthusiasm. However, that enthusiasm quickly dwindles when their progress does not match their expectations. I must admit to having been in that position many times. Let’s face it the guitar is actually a very technically challenging instrument to learn to play. Apart from the sore hands there are six strings to grapple with all of which need to be kept in tune. There are at least 21 frets on a guitar each representing a different note. There are chords and scales both major and minor oh my God my head is going to explode!!!! I mean that is a heck of a lot to get your head around without people telling you to shut-up and stop making that infernal racket!
So how can you ensure that the enthusiasm for learning how to play the guitar is maintained?
For me the biggest aid to maintaining that enthusiasm is by finding yourself a competent mentor who is as equally enthusiastic as you are. That mentor can come in many forms it could be a guitar teacher, a friend who also plays the guitar or being surrounded by musicians in a band. But the simple act of having people around you, who are also passionate about learning how to play the guitar, can greatly increase the speed with which you accomplish your dreams on the guitar. I have utilised all of the above and have achieved some good results which I am proud of. However, if I was to rank them in order of importance I would have to put playing in a band right at the top.
Playing in a band, for me, represents the quickest way that you will learn to competently play the guitar. My first band, King Stud and The Jock Straps, yes I know but we were young and impressionable, was a group of my school friends. There were three guitarists, again yes I know but remember we were young and playing the guitar was cool. Of the three of us who played guitar all of us were beginners but one had played the trumpet before so he had the edge. But do you know what, the competition to be the first to learn a tune that we could play as a band, meant that I progressed far more quickly than I would have just sitting strumming in my room by myself.
However, if you do not have friends who share the same passion, and who are as equally as fumbling as you on the guitar, then it can be extremely daunting to try and find and then join a band. In this case the internet will come to your rescue. The internet has revolutionised learning how to play the guitar providing everything from one-to-one tuition right through to digitally mastered backing tracks that you can jam along to. Back in the late 80s when I was first learning how to play the guitar if you wanted one-to-one tuition you had to pay for a teacher, which was quite expensive. If you wanted to jam along to your favourite song you either did it along to the original recording or you had to send away for an expensive, often poor quality, tape recorded backing track. With the internet this is no longer the case, everything is at your fingertips at a fraction of the cost. However, it can be a mine field trying to find something that is good and represents excellent value for money. That is where companies such as Jam Play and Guitar Tricks have proved so valuable. They both have good material which is well presented and also represents excellent value for money. They employ expert teachers who are professional musicians in their own right. In the case of both Jam Play and Guitar Tricks they use world famous guitarists such as Steve Stevens of Billy Idol fame and Shane Gibson from Korn. In these cases you can learn your favourite songs from the guys who actually wrote the original tune. Both Jam Play and Guitar Tricks are, in my humble opinion, market leaders in the field of on-line guitar tuition and I can highly recommend them both. To find out more about Jam Play read my recent review Learn to Play Guitar with Jam Play.
In essence learning how to play the guitar is not easy but thanks to the internet it is a lot easier than it used to be.
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