PRACTICE TIPS. Guitar can be an interesting instrument to get started on.  The way we use our hands when we play guitar is unlike anything we’ve ever done before.  This can make it challenging when first starting, but rest assured, the hurdle is very jumpable and you will be happy you did when you’ve cleared it.

Here are three tips for beginners that I feel are vital to think about when approaching the instrument.

1) Always be sure to warm up before you play.

Doing a simple scale like the chromatic scale or a major scale will not only warm up your hands, but it also:

-Makes your fingers stronger, which, in turn, makes it easier to push down the strings, and play chords.

-Coordinates your two hands to work together.  Most people don’t think of guitar as a coordination instrument, but it absolutely is!  The timing between the right hand picking the string and the left hand pushing down on the fret has to be spot on.  This takes time to develop, and scales are a great way to speed up that time.

2) Practice slow!

You will undoubtedly gain more from slow steady practice than fast and choppy practice.  Find a tempo where you can be smooth and tension free in your hands, arms, shoulders, and neck, and stay there until you’re ready to speed up.  I usually don’t speed up more than 5 BPM’s at a time.  Remember, if you are tensing up, you are playing too fast.

3) Break your chords up.

If your chords aren’t ringing clearly, then try playing three strings of the chord.  Practice that until you get comfortable with it, then add a fourth string.  Keep adding strings until you’ve got the whole chord under your hand.

Stay patient, practice slow, and practice with your whole mind and body and you will see results!  Best of luck, and most importantly…have fun!!

Jon Paul, guitar teacher