Episode 45 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast shares two simple tips to help you teach yourself guitar more effectively.
There’s a lot of lessons and resources available today, so these two tips will help you get the most out of them.
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Here are some useful guides mentioned in this episode:
- How to Learn Guitar by Yourself
- How to Learn Songs Faster
- Guitar Pro 7
- How to Read Guitar TAB
- How to Read Standard Notation
- How to Read Chord Diagrams
Podcast Episode 45 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 45 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.
In this episode, I’ll share two simple tips on how you can teach yourself guitar more effectively. The goal of this episode is to give you a couple of things to keep in mind to make sure you keep your leaning on track and help you avoid feeling lost or stuck.
Figure out a Pathway
The first tip I have for anybody wanting to learn guitar on their own is to try and map out a pathway of all the things you need to learn or get better at.
This is something I did when I stopped taking lessons from a teacher and decided to learn on my own. Something I may talk about in a future episode.
Having a rough plan of all the things you need to learn to be able to play the songs you want to learn can help you stay on track and avoid burning out.
I have a few guides on the website that explain how to do this, but the basic idea is simple.
Take a look at a song that you really want to learn, even if it’s too hard for you right now. Go through the song’s TAB or sheet music and write down all the techniques you see used in the song. I have a guide on the website that explains all the symbols used in Guitar TAB, so that’s an easy way to figure out what techniques are used if you’re a beginner.
Once you write down all the techniques used, write down any chords or scales used as well. An easy way to do this if you’re not very familiar with chords or scales is to use a program like Guitar Pro to tell you what the chords and scales are.
Do this a few times with 5-10 of the songs you want to learn.
After you do this, you’ll have a long list of things to learn. But the key thing here is that this list is custom-made just for you. It focuses on the techniques that are relevant for the style of music you want to play and leaves out the techniques that aren’t as important for you to learn.
You know that every item on that list will help you play your songs, so it helps keep you motivated along the way.
Over time, the songs you will want to learn will change, so it’s a good idea to regularly go through and update your list. Your taste in music might shift or you might discover a new band. The main thing is that you’ll always have a list of things to work on that’s custom-made to suit your style of music.
Once you have your list, you can choose what items to start working on. Guitar isn’t linear, which means there isn’t a straight line of all the things you should learn in a specific order. The ideal path is different for every guitarist. So don’t stress too much about putting your list in any particular order. Just start with whatever interests you the most or feels the easiest. As long as you’re constantly making progress on something on your list, you’ll keep moving forward.
Learn From Multiple Sources
The second tip I have is to make sure you’re always learning from multiple sources. No one source is going to give you everything you need and learning from a variety of sources helps reinforce what you do learn.
The good thing about learning guitar today is that there are so many free and paid resources out there, so there’s plenty of options available. You can learn from plenty of different guitar teachers on YouTube, or you can learn from podcasts, websites, books, or online courses.
There are a few potential problems you might run into if you only learn from one source. Unless you’re learning from a source that perfectly matches the type of guitarist you want to become, you’ll end up with gaps in your playing or understanding.
Let’s say you do what a lot of people did in the past and you buy a guitar method book. Method books can be useful, but it’s hard to find a book that perfectly matches any one person’s needs. Most of them are written in a way to reach the broadest audience possible to sell more copies, so what you end up with is very generalized. If you’ve ever picked up a guitar method book and wondered why the exercises and lessons were so bland, that’s why. There are good books out there, but most are designed to be broad and basic.
I learned this early on when I started teaching. With every student, there would always be a point in our lessons where the book didn’t cover what the student needed or wanted to learn. The book would cover things that some students had zero interest in and missed out on things that they actually did want to learn.
Sometimes this would be early on in the lessons and other times the book lasted quite a while, but it happened with every single student.
I would have to create custom lesson plans to fill in the gaps in what the book covered. Eventually, I completely gave up using method books and solely used custom lesson plans. As a side note, that’s why figuring out your own personal learning path is so important.
The point I’m trying to make is that using a method book was frustrating for me as a teacher because I could see the glaring gaps in topics or irrelevant areas.
The problem when you’re learning on your own is that you may not realize when the book doesn’t cover what you need to learn.
You can only figure out when a book has gaps when you see those areas covered in a different learning source.
So you can easily avoid this issue by learning from a decent range of materials and sources. Don’t stick to learning from one book or one YouTube teacher. Have a few different places where you can regularly learn from.
Another reason I recommend learning from multiple sources is that every source explains things in different ways.
There’s a big difference between hearing a guitar teacher explain something in a video compared to reading the same explanation in a book. On top of that, different teachers will explain topics in different ways. If you look up a lesson on how to play bends on YouTube, you’ll see a long list of videos demonstrating and explaining bends in different ways.
Some of those videos might not click with you while others may make perfect sense. You may even find that you get a few extra ‘aha’ moments after you watch a few more videos. You might think you fully understand bends after one video, but after watching somebody else’s video, you learn something new the other video didn’t cover.
Modes are a good example of why it’s important to learn from multiple sources. A lot of guitarists get confused by modes. They’ll read about them in a book or hear them explained in a video and it just won’t make sense. But there are a few different ways of explaining modes and one of those ways will probably make far more sense to you than the other ways.
Whenever you read or hear something and it doesn’t make sense to you, don’t give up on that topic. There’s probably another way of explaining it that will click with you.
So to recap, there are two main reasons why I recommend learning from multiple sources. The first is that no one source will cover everything you need to learn. If you only stick to one resource, you may not notice that you’re missing out on learning important things.
The second reason is that every teacher explains things in different ways. If a technique or topic doesn’t make sense when explained by one video or article, hearing or reading it from another source can be all that it takes for it to start making sense.
My recommendation is to make it a habit to watch or read multiple sources for every new topic you learn.
The advice in this episode probably sounds basic, but it’s worth keeping these two points in mind. Do you have a list of techniques, scales, chords, and music theory to learn that will help you specifically learn songs that interest you? If not, write one up and use it to guide your learning. Don’t just look up a generic list of guitar techniques, create your own list based on the music you want to be able to play.
Do you have at least 5 different go-to places or resources to learn new topics or get new exercises to work on? If not, start searching around and save or bookmark places that grab your attention. It’s perfectly fine if there’s one website or person who you like the most, but make sure you learn from a variety of sources.
If you have any questions about learning guitar on your own or you’ve been getting stuck along the way, send me a message at guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-45
I’m happy to do more episodes in the future on this topic if it will help people.
Spend some time today thinking about your overall plan with learning or improving your guitar playing and I’ll talk to you next time.