Many people who pick up the guitar as a hobby, quickly become discouraged. If you are one of these people, please don’t feel bad at all. I personally took a few months before I began to even get the majority of the simplest concepts. After a long period of learning and teaching guitar, I’ve boiled down several techniques to easily and quickly pick it up. Let’s get started!
First, make a log of everything you do in practice. This one sounds kind of goofy, but, trust me, it’s monumental in your progress. Steve Vai noted in several interviews, that everything he practiced in guitar, he wrote down. Not only did he write down what he practiced, but how he practiced it, when he practiced it, and why he practiced it. Do this, and see what kinds of patterns you are developing.
Second, if you’ve got a weak area in your practice, write it down, then practice it! Write down in your log, “I’m weak in scales/chords/finger speed/etc, and will practice it for 30-45 minutes.” Do this. I did it, and it helped me more than doing anything else. Now, is just writing down what you’re weak in and what you need to do going to change it? No, not at all. You have to make the COMMITMENT to practice it, if you want to get better at it. This sounds like common sense, but the majority of people do not make the commitment to practice something they’re not good at for an extended period of time, and opt instead to use several excuses, such as: “I’m just not good at it.” “It’s boring.” “I’d rather do xyz instead.” The reason for this, is that they’re not good at it, so to them, it’s not ‘fun’ unless they are. Well, learn to enjoy the actual process of learning, or you’ll find you’ll go nowhere, not just in guitar, but in life.
Third, if you’ve got a road block, and just aren’t getting anywhere, go take a break! Your brain sometimes needs time to process what it is that you’re doing, and this may be happening to you. In fact, if I’m ever struggling with something, I go take a quick nap and come back to what was giving me problems, often, I’ll notice that I can pick up what I was having trouble with in relatively no time at all. In fact, I’ll often question myself as to how I had a problem with whatever was hard for me before.
Fourth, if you can’t get something right, slow down the speed at which you are practicing. There are multiple reasons why you would not be able to get something, as your brain works almost as a pyramid(think of the easier tasks on the bottom, supporting the harder ones at the top). So, either slow down what you’re doing, or do something less complicated. One thing that helps me with the pace at which I’m doing something, is the use of a metronome. If I want to slow the speed at which I practice, I just lower the BPM of the metronome. Ridiculously simple… 🙂
Fifth, don’t skip practice. It’s better to do 3-4 minutes of practice in one day, than to do none and double up the next day. Consistent practice schedules, however are highly recommend as you work to learn guitar.