Today, I’m revisiting my first show (Learning guitar in 2018)..but with a new perspective. I’m going to go over what has changed, what hasn’t changed, and what I’ve learned from the guitarists I’ve come in contact with this past year and see how we can use this to make the most of this year… learning guitar in 2019!
Back in Jan. of last year, I set out to start this podcast. The first episode was about introducing the direction of this show and what someone who was starting or continuing to learn the guitar would be dealing with when they started. I wanted to see all of the ups and downs and then recommend the best path to success on the guitar.
My comparison to what has and hasn’t changed in guitar last year was based on what I have seen over the many years of teaching and playing. But this episode is planned to be more focused. This is just about the changes over the past year.
So what has stayed about the same since this time last year? Well the online guitar space is still
overwhelming, a bit crowded and learning the guitar is still frustrating. The ease of finding cool things to learn is still there and it is still awesome. On the other hand, the “a la carte” method of the DIY student is still the biggest stumbling block to real progress for the guitarists that I have been in contact with this year. Working on things when you are missing the fundamentals, keeps a lot of potential great guitarists stuck in the mud.
The free and paid lesson content hasn’t changed much either.
The free tabs, blog posts, and videos look very familiar. Just type in “learn guitar” into a search engine and you will most likely see a lot of the same faces: Marty, Justin, Andy, and Guitareo.
As far as the paid side of things, the courses, books, apps, gizmos like Chord Buddy and games like Rocksmith still have top billing.
Although, in just one year, you wouldn’t expect a whole lot of change in the guitar learning space, there have been two differences that I have noticed. Both of these small changes, I think, are the first steps to a better space for a lot of players.
The first deals with online video. We have had online video for quite sometime now. And in the last few years, the ease of use has finally come to the average user.
Since it started, YouTube has been the go to for all things guitar. Product demos, lessons, cover songs, concerts. You name it and it’s available there. It has traditionally been an education and entertainment outlet for guitar players. But, with the tendency for very negative and critical comments, a lot of guitarists who love watching it, avoid participating.
But over the last year, I’ve noticed a big change in the attitude towards online video from the guitar students I’ve been in contact with. I’m seeing a growing comfort with participating in online video from students that were one year ago a bit shy or too scared to post. And I think it has a lot to do with the growing popularity of Instagram.
I think Instagram, with the shorter video and story times, the super simple live-streaming platform, and the fact that it is meant to be used with just your phone, has been a great entry point for those who were uncomfortable before.
With shared guitar progress videos, lesson videos, and the fact that the comments lean more to the positive side, Instagram, I think, is a really helpful tool for new and practicing guitarists to share their playing, get some feedback and feel like they are part of a community. All great things to help you keep moving forward.
I am planning to put a great deal of my time and attention on Instagram this year and I’m excited to see its effect on my playing and the way I interact with other guitar players.
The second change this year is some new hope for mainstream guitar based music. 2018 came in with a feeling that guitar based music was on the way out, with posts of the decline of the guitar happening almost every week.
But, something started to happen. As the talk of Greta Van Fleet started to grow, the decline of the guitar posts seemed to dry up. As the year went on, I would get more and more questions on what I think of Greta Van Fleet.
Whether you like them or you think that they are just ripping Led Zeppelin off, there is no doubt that Greta Van Fleet have made an impact, and that is a good thing.
To me, anything that inspires a young kid to want to start learning the guitar is great. I can’t wait to learn a few of their songs and help someone get started on their lifelong journey with the guitar.
Also, i’ve noticed that the decline of the record business has given big recording acts a new financial incentive to get out there and play. This is great for us! If your favorite guitarist is still functional, chances are that you can buy a ticket to see them play. To me, this has always been my go to when I need some inspiration: seeing my guitar heros play the songs I love. After seeing one of these shows, my practicing always goes into overdrive. I just can’t wait to get to my guitar and play.
Starting a podcast has been great. I highly recommend it. If you have ever thought of doing one, I have one bit of advice to you. Do it! It’s great. In fact, send me an email and I’ll help you get started. It’s so much fun.
One of the big benefits of podcasting iis being in contact with you. The emails and messages I receive from all of you are very important. Not only do I get to know a bit about a person and their experience with the guitar, but, overtime, I start to get an overall picture. I start to see trends in what players are going through.
There have been two main points that I’ve noticed from my contact with guitarists this year.
The first is that Rhythm is lacking. So many have struggles on getting their rhythm together. I don’t know if it is a lack of effective content available, or it’s just not easy to communicate how to improve your rhythm, or if it’s just not the exciting thing to practice.
But for some reason, rhythm problems have been the one thing that keeps popping up. I hear it discussed as problems with strumming as well as just general timing.
So rhythm is something that I think we could all spend some time reviewing and refining. I’m going to pay special attention to improving rhythm in my 2019 content.
The second thing that I’ve learned from guitarists that I’ve been in contact with is that there is a struggle with motivation. Whether it’s motivation to actually sit down and practice or just motivation to play guitar in general, I’ve noticed that getting one’s head in order is a hard thing to do lately.
I would have thought that motivation problems would have mainly been caused by frustration. But, that is not what I’ve learned this year. A lot of motivation problems that I’ve come across with learning guitar, center around a lack of time. And when you don’t feel that you have time enough to do something right, you definitely don’t feel motivated to play.
Being motivated to find the time, limit your distractions, and be confident that you will get results is something that I plan to address, head on, this year.
Up till now, we have taken a look back on the past year, but now let’s look to the future.
No one knows exactly how 2019 will be. But, in my opinion:
So let’s take the observations from the past and our ideas about what 2019 will be and form some sort of game plan.
My theme for progress in 2019 is in two steps:
#1 Take control of your progress
#2 Fill in the foundations
This is how we are going to beat the system and really move forward at top speed.
Let’s start. Let’s be different. Instead of being led to things that aren’t really helping, let’s spend some time understanding what it is we need to do and put it in motion. What are you currently working on? Is it entertainment or is it valuable? There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, but that’s not going to help you move forward.
To really take control of your progress, focus on these three things.
Taking this step back and guiding your practice with these three steps will give you a great framework to work on step #2:
A renewed focus on the essentials is in my opinion the best way to take advantage of all of the online content there is to offer. If you are missing parts of your foundation, it’s just struggle after struggle.
Make a commitment this year to really understand the basics. Have a renewed focus on Rhythm, Chords, Scales, and Theory. Buckle down and once and for all face those things that you know you need to work on. The content is out there. You just don’t normally feel like searching for lessons on strum patterns or 8th note rhythms. It’s waiting for you, and it will take you farther than just learning more songs that you may not be ready for.
If you take these two steps (Take control of your progress, and Fill in your foundations) as you plan out your next set of practices, you are setting yourself up for the fast track. It doesn’t seem fancy but even difficult music is just simple ideas mixed together in a certain way. Difficult music can be broken down into the fundamentals and understood.
So, I get it: to really make the most of all of this it boils down to discipline and fundamentals. But you might be thinking: “How am I going to do this? I’m not a teacher. I’m just someone who wants to learn to play. Where do I go from here?
This is the part that I’ve been really excited to tell you about. I’ve got something very special coming up next week.
It’s a challenge. A 30 day for 30 minute practice challenge. This is something that we can all do together (myself included) to get our 2019 off to a great start! I don’t want to go into a lot of it here, but next week I’ll bring you all the details.
Very exciting and something that I’m really looking forward to.
So today we went over:
Thanks for joining me today for this last of the shorter holiday episodes. I hope you all have had a great new year! And now that the holiday season is over – let’s get to work getting better at the guitar.
Remember to join me next week for our 30 day challenge!