When it comes down to improving your guitar skills, as well as any other set of skills, mindset plays a very important role. Sometimes it's not so much about being naturally gifted as much as having the discipline to follow through & have the right attitudes about improving your playing.
Here's just 7 tips you might want to consider to improving your guitar skills. Mind you (no pun), just putting any 1 of these things into practice on a consistent basis will be useful to taking steps to where you want to be.
Here we go:
1 - “Forget Yesterday.”
Thinking about yesterday? You're thinking about the wrong day. Start focusing on what you can do now and today. If you're worried about tomorrow, you’re also thinking about the wrong day.
You must be present in the here and the now or you will miss out on everything that this very moment has to offer. I recently have been focusing on too many things.
As soon as I got clear on what I want to focus on the weight lifted off my shoulders and I can now focus with utmost intensity on the task before me this very minute. What is it for you? Get clear on that and you will be able to focus totally on the moment & keep distractions at bay.
2 - “Goals”
Get out a piece of paper and rewrite your goals. Whether they're big or small doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you write them down. Underneath each one, write down what you know you need to do next. This is how you keep your eye on the prize, and allow you to measure your success along the way.
Without knowing where you are, and where you want to go, we are simply floating in the ocean of no-direction.
Stick with Specifics. This is usually the uncomfortable stuff, the stuff that you might not be able to do yet.
Not having goals is like going into battle without a plan. You can fight on but if you don’t know where you’re going you will end up on the wrong side of the field, just maybe not where you really wanted to go.
Goals will keep you on your path. Distractions are everywhere. You have to be careful. With goals by your side you will stay motivated and wont be as likely to get sidetracked by some meaningless distraction.
3 - “Tunnel Vision”
You are probably in dire need of some tunnel vision. You can't be wanting to learn 3 different videos, 6 different monster shred licks and be composing your own song.
You need one thing, one thing at a time. Work on your song for instance, and finish it. Its very fun to keep working on other things but if you want something done and finito!, then go 1 at a time. It all goes back to focus.
The only time you should stray from that path are in times of inspiration. For example, I had a lesson today and immediately composed and recorded an idea.
Now that I did that, its back to business on the songs I’m working to complete.
4 - “Think Like the Masters”
You have to think like the Masters. Do you think that Yngwie Malmsteen thinks his vibrato stinks? I think not. But this doesn’t come naturally. If you’ve read his book you know that he worked for it. It's about a positive mindset & expectation.
Countless hours were put into his technique. You have to work until you know that you're so good at that particular thing that you undoubtedly believe in your abilities.
Believing in your abilities then transfers over to believing in yourself. Start thinking that you are a damn good guitar player.
See what happens with this new mindset.
Maybe you’ll start doing what good guitar players do. Start thinking YES and stop thinking “I don't have time or "I can't".
No one has time. Everyone can develop a degree of skill if they try.
Time is CARVED out of the day carefully like a sculptor chisels stone.
In other words you have to start thinking about when it is in the day that you can make some time. Then carve those hours out for guitar practice.
5 - Start thinking “MORE.”
More time on the guitar, more time on theory, more time on technique, more time on your composition skills and songwriting skills.
More time on your vibrato, not just when you have a note that is played with vibrato in one of the solos you know.
You must ISOLATE this technique and focus solely on vibrato. There are several types of vibrato such as wide, narrow, bent-note, …
...start thinking…”My vibrato kicks ass!”
The more time you put into your craft, the more insight you will gain. Some of these things won’t come by way of teacher. They will come because you are doing the work. You are going to that place where you are open to ideas and possibilities.
One such thing can be…the best way for you to progress. For example: Jamming with a midi drum pack I bought today really brought out some kickass ideas I never would have thought of without the drums as inspiration.
6 - “Put in the Hard Work”
20 Minutes a day playing the same-old stuff you already know ain’t gonna cut it.
You need to start thinking more like a pro.
Pro’s think like other pro’s.
They all think the same. Thats why they’re pro.
2, 3, 4, 6, 18 hour days have all been done before.
Full time jobs and families are important, but if you're looking to be a professional musician, what’s also important is your craft, your art, your hobby, your guitar playing.
If you don't get enough of this stuff that makes you feel ever so alive!, you’re probably going to go into the other areas of your life with a sour face, or a semi sour face.
What if you could go in there with a complete smile, knowing you carved out time for yourself so that you can better spend that time with family, friends and your job.
Its gonna take sacrifice. Thats for sure. You're gonna need some discipline, thats also for sure. Its gonna be hard, …but as Les Brown always says with a loud voice…”Its Worth It!!”
7 - “Meditation”
It doesn’t have to be in a sitting down position with your index and you're thumb touching, with your palms up to the sky.
That’s not what this is.
This is simply taking a walk and being in the Zen zone, and focusing, and really thinking about what it is that you want from the guitar.
Try it. And let me know how it goes for you.
Theres a book called “Daily Rituals.” It has short little paragraphs on several musical composers, artists, writers etc…and what they did daily.
From Mozart to Beethoven to Liszt to Chopin…One common theme amongst these artists was taking a walk through nature.
Beethoven would take a walk with a musical notebook to jot down ideas as they would come to him. Ha!
What a great idea.
Okay…stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of the Mike Socarra's Mindsete Series
I hope 1, more than 1, or even all the tips above have inspired you to rewire your mind, then rewire your guitar and play like the badass that you are.
Check out some more motivational articles at my blog.
Mike Socarras is a guitarist, composer and instructor. He has a music business degree from Fullsail University, a Songwriting Certificate from Berklee Music Online and has taken lessons from Professional Guitar Players.
Right now he is studying composition techniques with George Bellas. He has written many articles, lessons and 4 ebooks thus far and has released a 7 track Cd in the Hard Rock style which you can find on BandCamp
He is very active on Instagram and is a prolific musician. Look for a new release from coming soon.
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