Reach your maximum potential: Be the best guitar student you can be
By Vishaal Kapoor
There are lots of guides on finding a good guitar teacher on the Internet. There are even lots of guides on how to practice guitar, and play guitar. A lot of emphasis is put on how to teach or how to practice something or play something specifically.
There aren’t so many guides out there on how to be a great student of learning guitar. It doesn’t matter where you learn guitar from, whether you are learning from a guitar teacher, or DVDs, books or the internet: there are good students and there are bad students.
On a side note, I personally believe it is extremely important to get guidance from a guitar teacher. All kinds of problems can occur being a self-taught guitar player, but that is another topic for another day.
In this article, I want to outline a few different types of students. You should be able to identify which you need to be in order to reap the maximum benefit from investing your time and effort into the world of guitar playing.
The Variety Seeker
These are people who just like to learn a bunch of different bits and pieces, parts of songs here and there, never really learning anything in its entirety. One week they are excited about learning sweep picking, and the next week they have a new-found love for blues phrasing. The next week, they want to take a stab at hybrid-picking, then try their hand at 2-hand tapping.
Wanting to learn all of those things is absolutely fine. However, you can’t be spread out in all directions and getting distracted and changing what you want to do all the time. You can’t just be learning new things all the time. You need to stay focused on things that lead you closer to your desired guitar playing skill level. If your goal is to learn different styles/genres that involve different skill sets, that is ok too – just make sure you are not hopping from one thing to the next.
The Dazed and Confused
Do you live in a disarray of crushed sheets of un-categorized, un-labeled lesson material, torn pages, post-it notes, or even have to sort through random files on your computer? Agreed, musicians are not stereotyped for being the most organized people on the planet. However, unorganized guitar students have a hard time to even begin a practice session due to the chaos that always ensues.
If you are not organized, you’re probably wasting valuable time during your precious practice sessions trying to find the right material. You may also tend to get confused or even worse – get too overwhelmed to start practicing!
Have you ever met someone without passion for what they are doing? I have met many. Sometimes, I meet someone with a seemingly cool job and say, “Wow, that sounds really interesting!”, to which they respond, “Yeah, its alright..” in a dull, uninspired tone. Clearly there is a lack of passion there.
Can you imagine your favourite musician having lack of passion for music?
To me, guitar is the coolest freaking instrument on this planet and I have a blast every single time I pick it up. When I’m not playing the guitar, I certainly am dreaming about it. How about you?
Video platforms are really cool additional supplemental resources for aspiring guitar players. Unfortunately, as a budding guitarist or musician, it is difficult to discern between good and bad teachers, relevant and irrelevant lessons, shiny objects and pertinent matters, sound vs. questionable guitar playing philosophies, etc.
I’m not saying its all bad, if you want to watch videos online, it is ok – just make sure that it is relevant to what you want to do.
Point here is, don’t do more watching, when you should be practicing. Don’t JUST be a watcher, and nothing else. If you don’t pick up your guitar to practice at some point, and just let auto-play run, you could end up on a different planet without realizing.
The 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%
What do all these numbers have in common? They are all not 100%. If you are learning guitar and you only put in 20% effort, what kinds of results do you expect to achieve? What about if you put in 50% or 75% effort? Where will that leave you? Are you fine with being a ‘so-so’ guitar player?
If you take guitar lessons, how much do you follow your guitar teacher’s advice? Do you follow 25%?
Imagine the following scenario:
A patient is struggling with a problem. They seek help from a doctor. The doctor proceeds to explain what the problem is to the patient, how it affects them and how the problem prevents them from doing what they want. The doctor then explains, demonstrates and prescribes to the patient exactly what they need to overcome this difficulty, and sends the patient home to follow the instructions.
The next appointment, the doctor checks up on the patient:
Doctor: So, how is your progress with what we worked on last session?
Patient: Yeah, I didn’t really work on that stuff… but I checked out this link on the internet about this other thing…
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Now imagine that the doctor is actually a guitar teacher, and the patient is a guitar student. Enough said.
These guitar students have a good work ethic, practice frequently and consistently, have patience and persistence, and most importantly know how to follow instructions. They have a solid practice routine and have organized all their notes and practice tools for easy access. They write notes clearly, have questions to clarify issues that came up during practice sessions, so they can move forward, keeping their eye on the prize. They are passionate about playing and practicing the guitar and find ways to improve their skills at every opportunity.
As a result of being organized, having a clear plan and concrete practice, their skills and knowledge grow exponentially.
They implement what they learn 100%, implement what their guitar teacher trains them to do 100% and they get 100% of the rewards.
By now, it should be clear which traits you should avoid. It should also be clear as to what type of guitar student you need to be so you can play guitar at the level you want.
A great student can make more progress with an average teacher than a bad student can with great teacher. Be a great student, your teacher will love teaching you, and you will reap all the benefits.
About the author: Vishaal Kapoor is a professional guitar teacher in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He trains and mentors guitarists to reach their full potential. Are you frustrated with your guitar playing skills? Contact Vishaal now at GuitarKL.com