Can You Become A Great Guitar Player?

By Allen Hopgood

So you have your guitar and are learning some things. You want to play only for your own enjoyment, around a campfire or entertain friends and family at parties. This is a great goal to have. But can you become great at playing guitar in these situations?

The obvious answer is yes. But how do you achieve that goal if you work, go to school or have family responsibilities that encroach on your time? How do you fit in all these things that involve you, as well as become great at playing guitar into your everyday life?

The good news is you already have all you need to become great at playing guitar – a guitar; ears, hands, a brain, eyes. All of these except the guitar, you own free and clear. With these assets you already have the essential tools to play great guitar. However, you don't want to rely on these things alone, as great and valuable they are.

With these items in place, the first thing you should do is find yourself a guitar teacher. This one thing alone will help you advance quicker and in less time than trying to work it on your own either from a book or the Internet. So make this step one if you don't already have a teacher.

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The second thing is a commitment to your education. This is a commitment to your self and not necessarily to the guitar teacher. You are going to need time to develop the techniques and skills to play the songs you want to play – in the environments you want to play them.

Given your guitar playing aspirations, you may not have the desire to become a guitar virtuoso and that's fine. But to play great guitar, which is very achievable, you are going to have to invest the time required to make all that you do become second nature.

You can already walk, run, write and read effortlessly. You learnt to do this through daily repetition. The same process is required with learning to play guitar really well. It's only practice that is required to get it to the point where you are not thinking about it.

The next step is to do the work. Everyday. You didn't learn to walk by trying it for a few minutes and then not doing it again for a few days. The same is for guitar. The more you practice it, the better you get. Which equals the more fun and enjoyment you're going to have and the more you'll get out of the instrument. You will be inspired and full of confidence to play more with your guitar.

So make sure you practice for at least twenty to thirty minutes everyday. So what should you be practicing you ask? That is a tough question and one better to ask your guitar teacher as there are so many variables to it that need to be assessed based on what you want to play.

As a minimum though, include in your daily guitar practice - chord work, picking single notes (scales or riffs), work on your rhythm with a metronome, technique development of both your fretting hand and picking hand etc. Depending on what songs you want to play you may want to include finger style study as well. Music theory is good to help you understand the songs better or if you want to start writing your own songs, however it’s not necessary at this stage.

Of course if want to learn songs from either tabs or sheet music knowing how to read these will greatly ease your learning journey. You don't have to know how to read the rhythmic notation of music. Just knowing how to read the chords and be able to follow them through from start to finish is a great skill to have. You'll also find its surprisingly easy once you have gone through a few songs. Again with a good guitar teacher to aid you, will make all this easier.

So how long does this take? If you make it your commitment to practice chords, technique, rhythm and picking everyday you can do all these in five to ten minute intervals. If you don't understand how to set up a good practice schedule ask your guitar teacher. If you do this everyday you will see results.

One final thing of what not to do, don't just attend your weekly guitar lessons and go home and do nothing with it. In the end it’s all information. Yes you will learn some things and that will change you as a person because you know some more stuff. But knowing the stuff is not going to transform you into a great guitar player...

Commit to your guitar lessons, do the practice everyday and you will become a great guitar player. When and if you do that, there is no reason you can't become great at playing guitar.

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About Allen Hopgood: Allen Hopgood is a professional guitar teacher and guitar trainer on the Gold Coast of Australia. Having played in a variety of bands and supported many national and international musical artists, he invests his time teaching rock guitar, blues guitar and singer songwriter guitar styles and genres to his students.