As a beginner guitarist, you may be wondering where a good place to start would be. Most beginners want to jump into learning songs as quickly as possible and often choose materials that are just too difficult for them. This can, and most likely will, cause extreme frustration and confusion. In order to progress into more difficult material, you must first develop a solid technical foundation. The most important technique being two-hand synchronization. Learning to coordinate both of your hands together will be crucial to everything you play. Once you can comfortably synchronize both hands, it will make learning new material much easier and limit the time you spend feeling frustrated. Here are a few tips to get you started on your two-hand synchronization.
1. The Left Hand
In the beginning, it will be necessary to work on each hand individually to get a feel for the separate functions of each hand. Begin by working the left hand first. Pick any fret on the first string and place your first finger there. Repeatedly press down and release on that fret for approximately one minute. Then repeat this process using the other three fingers. Remember to only focus on your left hand. Do not attempt to pick any notes with your right hand at this point.
2. The Right Hand
After you have spent some time working with the left hand, you'll want to get a feel for the right hand as it picks the string. Take away your left hand and focus on picking the open first string. Notice how it feels as the pick hits the string and try to find a consistent volume and speed for each pick stroke.
3. Both Hands Together
The next step is to try both hands together. Start by getting your left hand going again, and focus on just one finger at a time. Repeatedly lift and place your finger on whatever fret you choose. Once you feel comfortable, add the right hand and try to pick the string at precisely the same moment you press down the note with your left hand. This precise timing in both hands is the key element of two-hand synchronization.
Once you develop a feel for this practice strategy, you can try applying it to more difficult exercises. For example, you can try moving to different frets or changing strings after every note.
Beginner and intermediate guitarists often encounter frustration in their guitar playing. Unfortunately there is no way around it, but being aware that this is a problem ALL guitarists face will help to motivate you through the tough times. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be patient with yourself. Here are a few tips for remaining calm and staying focused during the frustrating times.
1. Take It Slow
One of the major causes of frustration for beginner and intermediate guitar players is that they try to play things too fast. In the beginning stages of development, a guitarist needs to practice at very slow tempos to allow the brain time to process the information. Remember, speed is a byproduct of consistent and efficient practice. In the beginning you need to focus on playing things correctly, so be patient and the speed will come naturally.
2. Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed
For beginning students it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the new information and practice concepts being introduced. They are usually under the misconception that they must review absolutely everything they are working on for every practice session. This can be extremely overwhelming and frustrating and cause a lot of anxiety when it comes time to practice. Beginners need to keep there practice sessions short and simple. Remember to only work on one topic for each practice session and spread the remaining materials over multiple practice sessions.
3. Don't Worry About Everything You Don't Know Yet
This is a very common problem for intermediate guitarists. As an Intermediate player, you are just starting to put the pieces together and set goals for yourself as guitar player and as a musician. As you start to explore your interests, you immediately realize that there is a great deal about the guitar that you have not yet learned. This can be very frustrating and cause you to forget about everything that you have accomplished so far. During this time it helps to focus on the positive and remember that even though there is so much you haven't learned yet, there is still a lot for you to be proud of.
4. When All Else Fails, Find Something Fun To Play
There comes a time in all guitarists' lives where they encounter something that just doesn't click for them. You sit and spend countless hours of practice time trying to master a new technique or song and no matter what you do, you just can't seem to get the hang of it. When you encounter one of these road blocks, you must remember not to force the issue. Frustrated practice yields poor results and only leads to more frustration. Instead, find something fun to play that you are already good at. Put the other thing out of your mind and come back to it another time. Play to your strenghts and build your confidence as a guitarist, and everything else will take care of itself.