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What To Practice When Learning Guitar


One of the most frustrating things for guitarists in this day and age is not finding resorces for learning guitar but trying to decide which resources to use. With online learning being more popular than ever the options for what to learn are becoming almost limitless. Add this to the wide variety of books, DVDs etc it becomes very hard for someone who has chosen to go it alone with their learning to know where to start.


The obvious choice is to find a good teacher (**ahem**) who can give you what you need when you need it but if you are looking to do things on your own then it can be quite daunting. it['s not impossible though and this falls under one of the 'essential skills' that any good tutor should teach you - how to play, how to practice, how to understand and in this case, how to learn.


Everything boils down to what you want to be able to do. You need to identify what you goals are, as in what is the end result that you want. Let's say, for example that you want to play Oasis songs with your friends, not in a band but just in a jamming, casual and having fun kind of way. What skills do you need and how will you need to develop those skills in order to play those songs?


1. Knowledge of open and barre chords. This requires you to be able to not only read and play chord diagrams but also to know how to find barre chords up and down the neck which in turn means that you need to know how to find the root notes of those barre chord shapes and how to use them to find the chord that you are after.


2. Develop a sense of timing. You need to be able to play in time so learning how to make best use of a metronome or drum machine in your practice. Learning how to change your chords quickly is a good thing but also learning how to hear, understand and play a rhythmic strumming pattern is also necessary.


3. Learning Songs. If you are playing songs then you need to know how to learn songs effectively and not be put off. It's also useful to know which songs to start with that are more easily attainable rather.


So, with this big list of things you need to order them into what to learn first. Obviously starting with the stuff that you can do and then working from there so.


1. Learn open chord shapes. Whilst you are doing this you can practice your changes between them which will bring in learning to play with a beat.


2. Keep playing your chord changes so that your fingers become stronger and the changes become more fluid. When you can play in time and change relatively quickly and in time you can begin to learn and practice barre chords. These are much harder than open chords and so require your fingers to be stronger with a higer level of dexterity.


3. Buy a book of Oasis songs to learn. This will start to give you an idea of what songs you can begin to play. Find the songs that have the simplest chords in them. Live Forever is a good start. Make sure that your changes are good and start by learning ONE song. If you take on too much and start learning a bunch of them then you will loose focus. For the moment just familiarise yourself with the chords you need.


4. If the song has a specific strumming pattern (i.e. Wonderwall's strumming pattern is very distincive and is a must when learning the tune) then you need to learn it. There are many great online tutorials that will help you with specific songs in this way as at this stage learning them by ear can be tricky. Sometimes a good video demo of this can help. Good channels include Justin Guitar and Guitarjamz. On their own using these channels may benefit you but in some cases the individual learning style of some students may not work for the approach these guys take. It is still a great resource though to make sure that you click 'Subscribe!'


5. Work through small sections of the song like the verse or chorus. Pay particular attention to weaker ares such as a particular chord change or strumming section. Work on these more than the bits that you can play!


6. Jam with friends! Take note of what went well and what didn't so that you can refine your practice accordingly.


Whilst this is not a foolproof method you can start from knowing nothing to getting to the end result of playing Oasis songs with friends in a logical way by building it up. Obviously more complicated goals such as playing in a band, writing your own music or learning how to improvise take a lot more thought to work out and a lot more time and steps to work through. However this idea forms the core of how to learn and should underpin what you do at all times as your develop your musical skills.


The best thing to do is to start and commit. The problem with so much information is that you can change direction with your learning at any time which is dangerous, especially for the inexperienced player as it means that your focus can potentially be all over the place as you search for that magic method to kickstart your learning. Make a plan, persevere and focus on the end goal of doing what you want to be able to do..... and have fun!

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