5 Ways to Break Through Your Guitar Creative Block

The feeling of learning those first few chords on the guitar – there's just nothing in this world that could match it. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you're suddenly making your own music and playing your solos. It seems that nothing can stand between you and your artistic expression through this great instrument. But is it that simple really?

Despite feeling like you reached the top, you suddenly hit a wall. And you hit it pretty hard. You listen to other musicians and how easily they go from one part of the fretboard to another. At the same time, their music makes sense and one part just flows smoothly into another. Meanwhile, whenever you take the guitar in your hands, it seems like you're either repeating the same old stuff over and over again or that you're just stuck to the point where you can't perform a specific lick due to your technical limitations.

But don't worry – it can all be sorted out. Of course, it requires hard work, but after some practicing and getting on the right path, you'll be able to break through this wall and become a great guitar player. Here are some of the best ways to break through your guitar creative block: 

1. Breaking out of the ordinary

One of the first things you need to do is to forget about almost all of the things you learned and just play. Seriously. Just play random notes on your fretboard in a given tempo. Don't go too fast, don't go too slow, but play as randomly as you can. Don't use any of the phrases that you're used to, and most certainly don't focus on any geometric shapes that you're used to.

This is a method developed by jazz master Joe Diorio, and it can help you connect what you hear in your head and what you play on the fretboard. The next step is to play all these completely random notes and sing along to them. You'll be surprised how difficult it can get.

2. Listen to a lot of different music

No matter how you feel about different genres, bringing new stuff to listen to is always a good idea. Rock and metal guitar players do tend to be a bit limited in this regard. For them, there's nothing outside of these genres, aside from an occasional drift into blues or classical waters.

Always be open to trying out something new. Listen to a genre that you never thought you'd like. Try and make out what's so special about it. Try to engage in it and make out all the nuances in there. Then take it a step further and try to learn how to play a few of these songs. This is one of the best ways how you can get inspired and even come up with new licks and phrases that you'll use.

3. Learn how to play by ear

The convenience of guitar tablature is undeniable. All of those challenging songs that you couldn't make out by yourself are now available at your disposal. And there's no need to use overly complicated sheet music. However, this comes with its price. By learning music mechanically as just a string of numbers over a simplified diagram can be useful for learning songs quickly, but it ultimately limits your potential. If you're planning to be a great musician, it's only a matter of time when someone will ask you to play something by ear right there on the spot. And you'll also need to know how to transpose it, shift it around, change it, and all that.

By learning music by ear, you connect what you're hearing in your head and what you're playing on your instrument. This is a crucial skill if you want to advance as a musician.

4. Music theory is your ally

The guitar, or any other instrument for that matter, should not be learned mechanically. Forget about geometrical shapes and focus on the music. But to do so, you first need to sort out your music theory knowledge. And while some naysayers will claim that music theory limits your creativity – they couldn't be further from the truth. Music theory is a perfect tool for every musician to express themselves. No matter how much you learn about it, there's always more stuff that can help you in your musical endeavors.

5. New approach to technical skills

Luckily for us, various technique lessons are available for the general public free of charge. Find out what exactly is bothering you, what are your technical limitations, and then focus on sorting them out. This goes for both picking and fretting hand and how economically you implement them in your playing. Of course, the topic is much more complicated and there are entire books dedicated to it. But the first thing you could do is to first point out what exactly are you doing wrong and how you can change it.
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