The Importance of Embracing Critique

Here’s the scenario. You are a lead guitar player in a band. You just performed for a group of people. Overall, you feel like it went well and really poured everything you had into playing your parts and improvising that solo section. Most people tell you they were impressed with the performance. You feel good about it.

However, one friend, who also happens to play guitar, says to you, “Yeah, dude, you played your parts well, but the solo section seemed way too long and lacked interest in the melody.”

Some of you might not pay much attention to the comment, but for others, this could be devastating, especially for newer guitar players who don’t have a lot of experience or confidence.

In general, I think at a gut level we believe that critique directed towards us is somehow a bad thing. Maybe in our minds we would say it’s a good thing, but when it comes towards us, our initial reaction might be to write it off rather than consider it, and in some cases, we might be even afraid of it, or discouraged from ever playing music again.

Continue Reading...

How to Become a Better Guitar Player: Ask for Help

I learned a very important lesson as a guitar player this past week.

I’m not sure if this a universal experience for guitar players, but I remember when I first started learning guitar I was incredibly insecure and lacked confidence whenever I played in front of other people–especially, other guitar players who I knew were better than me. I’d end up getting so nervous! Maybe you can relate?

Even today, it can be sometimes intimidating to be in the company of those who I know are a hundred times better than myself.

However, I’m learning what a great opportunity that presents itself when I find myself in those positions where I’m in the company of guitar “greats.”

I have a friend named Patrick. Patrick is a guitar performance major here at school, and he spends over 28 hours in the practice rooms practicing guitar. That’s not counting all his other course work for school. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my friend’s discipline and dedication. I’m always blown away by his guitar performances. He is a hundred times better than I’ll ever be.

But rather than being intimidated, I decided to ask Patrick for help last week. For awhile now, I’ve been wanting to start learning new stuff on the guitar. I’m kind of in a rut and need something new to bite into. My friend was thrilled that I asked him. We ended up spending over an hour looking into new techniques.

All to say, it can be easy to be intimidated by the guitar greats that we encounter, but rather than shying away, use those encounters as an opportunity to learn something new that can help bring your guitar playing to the next level! Often these guitarists would be more than happy to show you something new.

Continue Reading...

Guitar Straps: How Low Can You Go?

I don’t know how this happened, but I’m seeing it quite a bit these days. Somehow it has become “cool” or just “the thing” to have your guitar strap adjusted so low that your guitar is swinging at your knee caps. I have no idea how such a thing has infected the guitar community. And no offense metal rockers, but I see it a lot with you.

If you are doing this, it really hinders your guitar playing.

Let’s look at why.

Think about when you practice guitar…

I often practice guitar with it sitting on my lap. My guess is that most of you probably do too. It usually isn’t till a performance or a show that comes up where I throw on the guitar strap.

Now, when you practice guitar, think about where the position of the guitar is in relationship to your body. For me, the body of the guitar rests on one of my legs, which puts the guitar right smack in front of […]

Continue Reading...

Thoughts on Practice from a Wise, Old Guitarist

Just recently, I found a guy in my local newspaper selling quite a few quality, vintage guitars for a ridiculously cheap amount of money. In my interest, I called him and arranged a time to go over to see the guitars he was selling. He had a lot of guitars listed in the paper, but WOW, when I walked into the house there were high quality guitars everywhere! Hung on the walls, stored in cases behind the couch–everywhere!

His reason for selling his guitars was simply, “I’m just getting too old.” Bill was 81 years old. In talking to him, I found out that he actually played professionally all throughout his life. He ended up showing me some of his recordings, and man, they were impressive! Bill played guitar at lightning speeds with flawlessness.

So I said to him […]

Continue Reading...