The Key to Better Guitar Playing…

Photo by Pixomar

Photo by Pixomar

Have you ever put a DVD of your favorite concert on and just listened instead of watched? Chances are it’s a concert you’ve seen several times anyway, so why not just sit and really listen? Or what about this: Have you ever ripped the audio from a guitar instructional video, such as my Texas Blues Guitar course or Mini-Courses, and listened to it in your car or on your mp3 player? I know it sounds crazy and you’re probably thinking, “Listen to an instructional video? I thought you were supposed to follow along visually so you can know what you’re doing on the guitar.”

Well, call me crazy if you want, but we hear with our ears not our eyes, right? There’s an old saying “Garbage in, garbage out.” Well, in this instance it would be more appropriate to say “Music in, music out.” There are at least three learning styles that people use to help them learn more efficiently. Visual (seeing), Kinesthetic (action, doing), or both; but when it comes to aural learning, hearing is just as effective – if not more so – as seeing music performed or playing it yourself.

I write this on my laptop while sitting in my living room listening to Christmas music (I started early; around October). More specifically, guitar Christmas music. Why? Just because I love Christmas music? Well, yes and no. I love Christmas music, but I’m a keen listener, but want to listen for anything new and exciting that I can apply to my own playing. If you love music, then you must find new – sometimes unconventional – ways to listen to it.

Think of it this way, the more absorbed you are in your education as a musician, the more you will absorb! So take every available opportunity to be more involved in your learning. Play back your favorite solo over and over again on that concert DVD and after watching it to figure it out, try to play it on the guitar by recalling your memory of how it sounded.

If you do this one thing, you’ll find yourself amazed at how much your playing will improve. Repeating songs and solos by memory (or by “rote” as music scholars call it) will tremendously advance you above many of your peers who may have been playing guitar for many more years than you have. Imagine yourself at the next practice session with your band, only this time you’ve applied this one technique and now you’re blowing them all away at how fast you’ve improved since the last practice session!

Considering what I’ve just discussed, listening to your favorite guitar instructional video doesn’t sound that crazy after all now, does it? Try it for yourself and see if it doesn’t improve your playing. But don’t forget, you must also practice at listening … in other words do it often so you can do it well! And as always…

Best Wishes and Keep Practicing,

Eric Beaty

Secrets of Texas Blues Guitar