Getting started as a musician is an incredibly exhilarating, and intimidating, journey. You go through times where you feel empowered and ready to take on the next challenge, but you also hit times where practicing feels like a struggle and nothing inspires you. We’ve all been there. We’ve found there are a couple of fundamental practices and philosophies that helped us strive forward. We’d thought we’d share some of those with you today! Let’s dive right in!
1. Figure out what you like, but don't stay there
It’s really easy to “stay in your lane”, so to speak. You hear a song you’ve loved since you were a kid or there’s a certain genre or vibe that really drives you. That’s great! These things can be huge motivators in your journey as a musician, but don’t get comfortable. No matter what you’ve chosen as your musical medium getting out of your box challenges you. You may even find there are other things that inspire you.
2. Strumming Patterns
This bit of advice, and a few that follow are more practical. Rhythm and strumming patterns can make or break your vibe. There are moments where a simple, consistent down strum is necessary. There are also moments where you can throw in some flutter strums and syncopations to really add layers to your piece. A particular genre that can help with strumming patterns is country music. Getting into the roots of this genre can really help strumming patterns go from simple to intriguing. Depending on your chosen style of playing really digging into different strumming patterns can really benefit your career.
3. Essential Music Theory
This is actually a huge piece of advice. It is never too late to learn even the most basic music theory. This can take your music to a whole different level because you understand what’s happening underneath it. It takes effort on the front end, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term grind. A couple of great places to start are chord progressions, building chords, note notation, rhythm notations, and lead sheet. This is a topic for a series of articles in the future, but you will be a better guitar player by committing to learning music theory.
This goes sort of hand in hand with the previous point but deserves to have its own space. Scales not only help your physical dexterity; they also help your mental dexterity. This is a piece of advice can make a huge difference in your playing. It helps you become really familiar with the fretboard. It helps the guitar become an extension of your body instead of an instrument you’re holding.
5. Make Friends With Other Musicians
This may seem like a weird piece of advice, but we promise it’s not. There’s nothing more discouraging than isolation. Friends can give advice, challenges, and they can also provide spaces to just laugh when things aren’t going the way you think they should. This piece of advice is a little more inward than the rest, but it is equally as important. Some of the greatest humps can be conquered because of musician friends. Some of your most fond memories as a guitarist will involve playing music and woodshedding with friends. You don’t have to be an island as a musician.
6. Take Care of Your Hands and Fingers
This piece of advice may seem trivial, but you will thank us later. If you’ve ever worked out in your life you will, to a degree, understand what this is talking about. Your hands have twenty-nine major and minor bones, twenty-nine joints, at least one-hundred, and twenty-three ligaments, and thirty-four muscles that move the fingers and thumb. Your hands need to be stretched and warmed up! You need to take care of your hands just like exercising or singing or anything that really involves putting a strain on bone and muscle. There are many resources for hand stretching that can teach you the proper way to take care of your hands before you play guitar.
The best and most talked about, piece of advice for last. Practice when it’s easy. Practice when it’s hard. You practice and you keep practicing. You put into practice the pieces of advice we just talked about and then add others in there too. Mess around and experiment with your sound, your equipment, your vibe, and whatever else drives you to music. This is a piece of advice that will always and forever be drilled into the minds of every musician in existence. When in doubt, practice.
We talked about a lot of different things today. We hope to expound on some of these later. Whether you’re just beginning, or a seasoned professional, it never hurts to keep exploring ways to better yourself. There are a lot of things can be added to this list. As a musician, you find things that work to push you forward. We hope the tips brought some encouragement or light to your journey!