Today, I want to give you a quick two-minute audit/quiz that will help you assess where your guitar playing is right now, where you need to improve, and possibly teach you a few new tricks of the trade you may be unaware of.
If so, let’s begin…
Answer the following questions as honestly as you can to see where you are with your playing.
Can you play five songs from start to finish?
This is the first big goal I give to all students and it’s very important.
Can you play one exact fingerpicking pattern right now?
If not, and you love fingerpicking, I recommend you learn one right now, and then aim to learn 2-3 more so you have them rock solid and “in the bank” so to speak over the coming months.
Can you play any 10-20 second piece of music (an intro, verse, riff or any other section) 5 times in a row perfectly?
If not, you probably need to slow down and focus more. Too many guitarists make the same mistakes over and over. Go slow and get in the habit of playing the things you practise 5 times in a row perfectly without any mistakes – I call this the “5 times rule”.
Are you able to sing any note out loud and find it on the guitar?
Try it, sing a note, just go “laaa” out loud, hold the pitch and try to find this note on the guitar. It’s hard but getting good at this will train your ear, brain, and fingers to know where the notes you hear in your head are, but on the guitar. Useful? Indeedio.
Do you have a list of 3-5 things that are holding back your playing right now? If not, why not?
The things that hold back your playing (and the ones that make the dog run away most) are what you need to zone in, focus on, and FIX! Play what you enjoy but create a little list of what holds you back and spend 5 minutes a day at least on fixing these frustrating areas.
Can you play 5 riffs back to back without any noticeable pause?
If not, I highly recommend you learn how to. This is what I call a “riff medley” and they are lots of fun. Practising riffs like this gives you a fun party piece (always impressive at social events) and they help you practise lots of skills in a short space of time (as long as the riffs are remotely varied that is – which most are).
Are you able to play one solo fingerstyle arrangement where no singing is required?
This is one of the highlights of playing guitar and is what I focus a fair bit of my teaching on these days – the resulting music and the skills and pleasure students get from this blows them away.
Can you take the chords of Am, F, C, and G and create any sort of jam from them right now?
If not, you may need to get good at them, learn a fingerpicking pattern (or a strumming pattern) and you can even get good at embellishing these chords – it’s all good fun and healthy for you (being creative like this is proven to be good for brain health and your brain age too).
I’m not saying the above is all you should learn and ever be able to do, but the above is a good, varied audit for you acoustic guitarists (and some electric players too).
Getting good at the above takes years for most guitarists but it will give you a good idea of where you are at.
I test students on the above ideas a lot – you can test yourself with them too.
If you can do the above, then great. If not, do not worry, Rome was NOT built in a day, but at least now you know and you can get to work on improving the things that count.
Don’t try to master the above in one week, simply take your time and try out a few ideas above – you will get great benefit from doing just that.
Plus, it’s fun trying out different ideas…
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that little audit/quiz.
If you want to improve on the above areas, you can. My website has lots on all the above but for more, my Guitar Domination Super eBook bundle is still on offer (but it might not be for much longer though) and it will help you in many ways.
Guitar Domination Super eBook Bundle
If you have any of the books but want the bundle, email me for the details and we will happily sort a discount out for you.
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.