4 Effective Ways to Find Out if You Are Improving on the Guitar


by Darryl Powis

This article will help you with a few ideas to know if you are improving on the guitar on the things you really care about.

Often when you are practicing and learning the guitar. Itís easy to get bogged down on the little things. And feel like you arenít really making progress. Or feel like you are improving at a snailís pace. Even when you get lots of compliments from people on your playing. You just canít see past the end of your guitar string.

Here are a few easy things you can do every three to six months to hear, feel, and see if you really are improving. Picking items of different difficulties.

This is probably the most common thing people do when they play the guitar to work out if they are getting better. Start with the easy songs and then get to the harder ones. Now when you are a beginner, it can be hard to know which songs are easy and which ones are hard. Getting someone to help you distinguish the different pieces is helpful.

Some pieces can simply be harder because it has a more difficult strumming pattern or different fingerpicking pattern. Or perhaps a piece is faster and includes a harder solo in it.

You can always choose a specific passage, and see how long it takes you to master that part as a determination of whether you are improving in general. And how fast you can play it well.

Measuring your speed on different items.

You can track a few things objectively on the guitar. One of these is speed. There are different things you can measure your speed on, such as chord changes, scales, going through a picking pattern, arpeggios.

Use a metronome to time yourself to play a certain item that relates directly to your goal on the guitar. If you want to be a shredder, then being able to play scales fast would be very handy.

Lots of core techniques can be measured and can be a very encouraging and accurate way to see your improvements over time. Donít worry if you donít shoot straight up towards getting faster. Itís a linear process based on how much you are actively working on it, your technique on the guitar and how efficiently you are practising.

Record yourself, whether itís audio or video

Taping yourself, both through video or audio can be a really good way to measure creative items that you are working on the guitar. This may include your songwriting, phrasing, or improvisation. These things canít be tracked by numbers, but you can give yourself feedback after each time. Analyse what things you can improve on.

Videoing yourself has the benefit of being able to see how relaxed you are when you are playing as well. And if you are doing anything silly when you are playing. Maybe sticking your tongue out when you get nervous or stressed. Correcting these things can help you play more effortlessly in the long run.

Recording your guitar will help you hear more accurately what is happening with your playing. Especially for phrasing, in your vibratos and bends. This can be really useful.

Again, do this every three to six months or so to see how you are getting on.

Is your general guitar knowledge improving?

Playing the guitar includes understanding the guitar as well. Having sufficient music theory knowledge for what you want to do on the guitar can be really helpful.

This might include the ability to sight read, or transcribe. Maybe you want to improve your music theory knowledge to improve the speed of your songwriting.

To work out how your general guitar knowledge is improving, you can test yourself.

Time how long it takes you to sight read a certain piece, or work out what chords are in a key and how quickly you can apply it to your playing.

Itís important that your music theory knowledge is applicable and you can actually use it. So that you donít forget it and it is actually used to help you with whatever you want to do on the guitar!

I hope this article has been helpful. Remember not to compare your progress on the guitar to anyone else. Everyone wants to do different things on the guitar, and everyone focuses and practises differently. So just keep going. And if recording yourself or measuring your speed helps to encourage you to practice more, then thatís great! Most importantly, keep on having fun playing the guitar!

About Author: Darryl Powis is a guitar teacher and guitar school owner from London, England. Providing guitar lessons in London for beginners and adults.