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Guitar Lesson: Practicing Or Playing Music?

Nov 15, 2007
What is most important as you try to learn to play guitar? Technical guitar exercises or playing music? What areas should you focus on as you try to use your practicing time as effective as possible?

Could it be that both these areas are important and should go hand in hand?

You could practice in various ways and you could practice many various things as you try to learn playing guitar. You are probably already identifying yourself in a niche of guitar players. Even if you are not you will experience sooner or later that different approaches will lead you in different directions.

For example, if you only learn small parts (the coolest parts) of famous songs you will end up with knowing small parts of songs. Obvious, but that is very common among beginning guitar players. If you only practice this way you will of course miss the long term development as a guitarist.

You wanted to become one type of guitarist but ended up becoming another type of guitarist. Why does things like that happen?

Probably because we know that what we saw we will reap but do not realize that this applies to guitarists as well!

If you never practice skill exercises in your guitar playing you will not develop you skill very much. If you don't want to become a proficient guitar player but only want to sing songs you can relax and develop your time to learning songs.

If you really know what you want it is much easier to determine what exercises you will need.

If you have a somewhat vague idea about what type of guitarist you want to become I would suggest that you balance you guitar practice by choosing both melodies and other musical exercises and also skill building guitar exercises.

If you only practice speed by learning scales, arpeggios, licks and other technique building exercises it is an imminent risk that you will sooner or later get fed up with practicing because of the lack of stimulating musical content.

It can actually be a great investment in your musical development to take some time off every now and then by going to a concert or listening to other music that will inspire you.

Yes, you are right, you will not practice your fingers, but music and playing guitar has to be a joyful experience for you if you are to inspire and lift others when you perform. You will gain so much by filling yourself with inspiring music that it will compensate for missed skill building exercises.

Music is the key in this discussion. It has to be the basis for all other guitar playing activities. Otherwise you will as before mentioned lose interest in the activity.

Sometimes I remember my first steps learning to play guitar and I remember that I did not think in terms of becoming a better guitarist than my friends or being the fastest guitarist in the world or a lot of other disturbing unmusical considerations. I was just enjoying the music I created.

I guess that keeping this feeling of why I wanted to learn to play guitar in the first place in vivid memory will help me not to be too carried away with only technical exercises.

Okay, what then is more important as you try to learn to play guitar? Technical guitar exercises or playing music?

As in so many other aspects of life balance is probably the key to reap optimal benefits from your guitar playing.
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your free guitar sheet music and read his guitar music blog at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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