New Year's Guitar Resolutions 2013

It's that time of year when we all should reflect on last year and celebrate our successes and learn from our mistakes. It's also time to look ahead and set our personal and professional goals. Below are five New Year's Guitar Resolutions that I hope you will consider.

1. Enjoy Playing Your Guitar. I once worked really hard on a piece that I was asked to perform and, whenever I played it during rehearsals, I was tense and always had a very serious look on my face. Once, just before performing it, someone said to me, "Don't forget to have fun!" I'm guilty of taking my music too seriously at times. If you want to take the fun out of your music, just demand perfection in your playing. I want to encourage you to try a different approach. Every time you make a mistake, smile and say to yourself, "I'll get it next time." Work hard, practice, but don't forget to enjoy the journey!

2. Practice smarter. Now that I got resolution #1 out of the way, let's face reality. You and I are busy. Here's one thing you need to keep in mind, there is more music than there is time. You can't work on everything all the time. Just except that your "music-to-do" pile will only grow. Be choosy and pick one or two of your favorite songs and stick with them until you are satisfied with them. The other tunes can wait. And, most likely, you will experience a spill over effect. All the practice you give one song will make the next one not seem as difficult.

3. Be musical. Promise yourself that you will not only focus on just the mechanics of music, but you will also work to become more musical in your playing. This means you will listen more to what you are playing, you will try to connect your notes better, try to make your melodies sing, and play more from your heart than your head. This is where the real joy of playing an instrument will be found!

4. Use a metronome. As a teacher, I hear all the time that the metronome "throws me off." Okay, you may want to sit down as I say this. What you're really telling me is that you can't play in time. I only say this because I care about you. : ) Put your metronome on and learn to use it. Sometimes a metronome is used to help you play faster. I want you to start using it to make you play slower. When you play slowly, you can process better - focus on your timing, finger and pick motion, connecting your notes, etc. You are more in control. When you perfect this, you can push yourself faster and still be in control.

5. Take lessons. I bet you were waiting for this one. As a guitar teacher, I say this unashamedly. Having a musical mentor/coach in your life is a good thing. An experienced teacher can help you stay consistent in your playing, teach you how to practice properly, and be your biggest source of encouragement.

With that, let me encourage all of you that took the time to read this. You can learn to play the guitar! I will do my best to follow my own advice and, for those that are my students, I am committed to doing what I can to help make you a better player. Happy New Year!

Rich

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