Every musician is aiming to improve his playing, to learn new stuff over the years and to add this to his playing. But sometimes you may get the feeling to be stuck, not improving anymore. Some sort of "non-creative break" is evolving. Such a break may even last for longer, sometimes up to some months.
This is absolutely normal, cause at first you pick up new stuff, you learn. Then you start repeating those new things to get used to and integrate it into your playing. If you did that, then there is the third phase when you are able to create something new from the stuff you´ve learned before. According to Clarke Terry: „Imitate, assimilate, create, innovate...“
To give you some more input how to become a better player over time, here i collected 10 ideas how to improve your own playing. Read on further down.
1. Take lessons!
Wether if online (e.g. via Skype) or in person - private guitar-lessons may motivate you to improve your playing and practise more.
It´s always good if a good teacher is listening and watching your playing. He may not only be able to show you some new stuff, but the more analyze your playing and show you how to avoid certain mistakes. That might help you to get into the right direction to avoid re-working bad habits afterwhat.
2. Take part on a Workshop or a Guitar-Seminar!
Workshops, Guitar-courses and Seminars are held sporadic everywhere.
The benefit: you get authentic and compressed information on certain issues, that you are able to re-work, practise and integrate later on. The more you will get the chance to learn to know other players from all different levels.
You may take part unconcerned as you may as well be able to meet other players of the same level than you. The intense exchange of participants of a workshop and the excange of ideas, tipps and tricks is very helpful to improve the own playing.
3. Play your own (little) gigs.
Even if sometimes without getting payed, there are „Open Jam-Sessions“ in Bars or small Clubs, giving you the opportunity to play with other musicians. Or you may start organizing a small gig at the local school-fest, at church-events or alike events.
To play in front of an audience wether how big it is (even 5 people) wil help you optimize your playing and give you some self-confidence in the techniques and tunes that you play.
4. Find other musicians to play with you in your desired music-style and your own level!
Find a band or other single musicians who play your style or want to play it. Or find musicians to start your own band.
Always playing alone may soon become boring after a time. To play with other is more fun and it keeps up the wish and aim to improve all the time, to steadyly learn new stuff, to practise regularely. Meet regularely with others weekly or monthly and learn new stuff together.
5. Always practise new stuff!
Learn something new that you always wanted to learn. Most players alway practise what they know for years (on and on), wondering why their playing doesnt improve anymore, even if they are practising all the time...
Always face new challenges, that keeps it tense for you and this way YOU REALLY MAY IMPROVE YOUR PLAYING instead of always "praying down" the old stuff that you know for years.
Discover new tunes, scales, arpeggios, new rhythms and play techniques or even new music styles, buy a new method-book - whatever. Do whatever it takes to improve, but: always stay in the possibilites of your playing.
If you head for new shores of learning something new you are able to improve your playing, wether may it be very difficult in the beginning to learn the new. But when you are always keep staying with the same you cannot improve, no way. As a first step you might check out our JM-Learning-section with all kinds of new stuff available online.
But be warned: if you set your goals too high you cause frustration, as goals set too high for the own possiblities are often not reachable! So alway look for a proper balance between new challenge and ability.
6. Record yourself!
Make recordings from your practise-hours and sessions, listen to your own playing. To listen to yourself while playing is like looking in the mirror, as recordings dont lie!
Then you are able to find out your own mistakes, find out what needs to be improved or what you did improve already. To listen to older reordings will help you to keep track in improving or realizing where you already improved. This is like giving you compliments or critizise yourself.
Another tipp is to record a little CD of your program for someone else. As soon as you´re heading for someone else listening to you, you will have the wish to improve, practise harder to especially play well for this. But always never drag down yourself if you find errors or mistakes in your playing while listening to these kind of recordings!
But always remember: Rome wasn´t built in one day and all the great player even took a lifetime to get to their state of technique or abilities. So take your time...
7. Listen to as may guitarrists possible, wether live or on recordings
Go to watch Live-concerts of your favoured guitarrists, go to see guitar-venues, festivals or exhibitions.
It´s absolutely ok to have a "favoured guitarrist". Just if you raise your favoured one to be the „Non-Plus-Ultra“ not accepting others besides that, you limit yourself in your own playing nonetheless.
To find inspiration and orientation in different players (wether what style!) will help to give you new impulses to improve your own playing.
8. Practise regularely every day if possible!
Take up your guitar every day even if just for a few minutes. Play some scales, finger exercises, arpeggios, Chordchanges (even maybe besides watching TV) or play a whole tune - wether what it is: every minute that you practise is some improvement for your playing (even if sometimes that may not be recognizable, even for longer times)!
Imagine that scenario: every player would have a "time account" (something like a bank account, just for time that you pay in).
So one year you might have made a "downpayment" of like 300 hours of practising.
All of a sudden you may not be able to practise for 14 whole days (taking holidays, beeing ill, whatever). After that then your time-account reduces off 50 hours - but you stay with 250 hours left.
Well, now imagine, you´d only made a downpayment of like 50 hours in that same year you will stay with - ZERO - after you time-off on your time-account!
Conclusion: every minute of practise counts in (and on your time account), even if sometimes it may not be apparent or realizable in your own perception. Important is aimed practising.
9. Buy a new guitar!
A new instrument may be truely inspiring and givin new impulses to improve, practise harder and more intense.
If nessesary sell your old instrument first and then buy a new one. Or if for some reason that doesnt work or you are in love with your old guitar even a new set of strings may do the wonder giving you new power to work on!
10. Subscribe to a msuic-magazine or the newsletter of a website (maybe our newsletter at www.jazzmanouche.de).
There are many different magazines so you might find the one of interest for yourself. And it can become very inspiring to read about your favoured players, read about new instruments beeing presented or to try new licks that are beeing offered there.
So these are our 10 Tipps for becoming a better player. Of course there are much more aspects to take care for. Our collection of tips is just a first step in the right dircetion to find your own inspiration and to start improving by making the first step in that direction.
Keep up the Swing! yours, Bertino