What You Need To Know As An Intermediate Guitar Player

Written by Tommaso Zillio

Tommaso Zillio - professional guitarist and guitar teacher
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Playing the guitar for first time can be a fun and exciting new challenge. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the amount of things you can learn. This can potentially pose a problem for some people, however. Once you feel confident in your basic abilities as a guitar player, what actions should you take to continue developing your skills? Keep reading and I will tell you.

A lot of guitar players will often find that their playing comes to a bit of a standstill once they pass the beginner phase. It’s easy to find practice material as a beginner, and even easier to find as an advanced player, but what about the people who are in between? The people who have learned a couple chord progressions and a few scales? Its not surprising that these directionless moments are generally the stage that most people will give up on their instrument.

The issue here is usually not with the students, but with the teachers. There are many teachers out there who are not equipped to take a guitarist from the early to advanced levels. This is apparent in the number of teachers you can find who will specifically only teach beginning players, or only advanced players. But do not worry. You who are in the middle ground are not forgotten.

Continue reading for some very useful tips on furthering your skill set as a guitar player. By no means is this everything there is to know (I could write an entire novel on this), but I can guarantee you will find at least a few points in this article that you haven’t considered before. See for yourself!

Efficient Practicing

In music (as in anything) natural talent is not enough to take you far. What really counts is practicing and practicing well. Any time spent with your guitar is good, however, knowing HOW to practice is whats important.

Since we can agree that practice is an integral part to playing well, it makes sense to sit down and really examine your routine. The following are a few helpful tools that will help better your practice time.

  1. Challenge yourself to play slower than you usually do. When playing, use minimal strength and only speed up once you feel relaxed and comfortable.
  2. Don’t settle for sloppy playing. If your notes are not coming out clear and crisp, continue to decrease your speed until each note is played with rich quality.
  3. Organize your practice time. Write yourself out a practicing schedule that is simple and makes sense to you as to keep yourself focused throughout.

This isn’t everything, but just a selection of important things to remember next practice session.

Training Your Ear

As we know, music is an auditory art. So when it comes to learning music, listening is key. It is important to listen in as many different ways as you can. Whether thats listening to a variety of music styles or listening to and picking out various chordal structures. No time is wasted as a musician when you really sit down to listen to something.

Here are a few suggestions of things you can work on to build a good musical ear:

  1. After you play a scale on your instrument, practice singing it too. Being able to sing what you play is extremely useful in fine tuning your ear
  2. Listen to music and listen to as many different kinds of music as you can. Expand your musical tastes and this will work to advance your musical instincts.
  3. Pay attention to the dynamics in music. Take note of when things build up and when they mellow down, and why/how this is effective.

Finding The Right Mentor

One of the worst things you can do as a musician is try to do everything by yourself. As noble as it seems to be as people say “completely self taught”, there is no fun in that (nor does it actually work). Music is all about collaboration, whether thats from a teacher or from jamming with other players. Great guitar players always get their inspiration from somewhere, even if its not directly from a hired teacher.

The right teacher will not only point you in the right direction, but keep you motivated to practice every day. Choosing a good teacher in itself could make up its own entire article, but what is important is to choose someone who has a proven track record of success. This means that if you can’t find any information on the teacher or the students they have taught, look somewhere else.

Having Fun With Theory

Learning theory can feel a bit drab to some, but that is usually only when they don’t know how to correctly apply it to their playing. Theory isn’t meant to be mindlessly read out of a book, its meant to be used to create music. This is where a lot of teachers will fall short. These teacher will talk about what particular chords sound good together without actually applying it to their students playing.

So I am here to inform you that there is good reason to educate yourself on music theory, and that it can actually be fun to create tunes using it. As an example, take a moment to check out my video on sequencing, and how you can use it with a pentatonic scale to make up licks:

(PLEASE EMBED THIS VIDEO IN YOUR WEBPAGE. You can find the video here:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Domci2leGeI

Know Some Music Theory

The key here is SOME. Im not asking you to thoroughly read a 400 page book on theory and analysis (unless you really want to). However, you will benefit greatly from having some knowledge on basic theory rudiments. Consider starting with the following:

  1. How scales and chords relate to each other
  2. Identifying and playing major and minor scales
  3. Writing a chord progression in specific key signature

This is only small selection of practices you can start exploring. If you are unsure about anything I mentioned, you can find a helpful download on my website titled “Beginning Music Theory” that will guide you. Alternatively, if you do feel comfortable with this stuff then take a look at another download provided on my site called “Music Theory Map”.

Conclusion

I hope this article has worked to inspire you as a musician and encourage you to keep growing. Print this page off and look at it next time you are feeling a little lost. Otherwise, check out the link to my website below for more helpful resources. Have fun!

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher. Visit Tommaso’s site to know more about music theory for guitar