There’s the old joke if you want to get a guitar player to stop playing put a piece of sheet music in front of him. And I won't get into the reasons why you should or shouldn’t learn to read music but I remember the first time someone put a piece of music in front of me it was funny to watch.

In recent years, it seems like guitar players have become obsessed with playing faster and faster and faster what we know as "shred" guitar. While I love that style of guitar playing I grew up listening to it I do hate the word "shred" it just sounds a little cheesy and degrading to most guitar players but that's just my opinion. While playing fast is certainly something cool to achieve and it makes a solo exciting if done well at the end of the day it's not the be-all end all everyone thinks it is. 

Playing fast is just one tool in the arsenal of a guitar player. You see many videos on YouTube with players measuring how fast they can play with metronomes and people write in and say oh you're cheating; the video is altered or some inane or derogatory comment but I wrote this article for the players who make the comments "I'll never be that good " etc. You can be that good. When you watch some of these players you begin to realize just playing fast isn't really that hard when you look at what they're playing.

I witnessed a video the other day on YouTube where they had a player at some University with electrodes all over his arms and muscles trying to see why he can play as fast as he can Now I get it that stuff like that is interesting, at the end of the day he's only playing certain things that fast. Nothing against him as a player but at the end of the day what is really going to prove.

If you were to take a major scale and play it as fast as you could and you were literally known as the fastest guitar player in the world I'm going to explain to you why it isn't necessarily true because if you were to take that same scale and play it with  intervals of 3rds fourths or fifths or sixths etc. you would realize that suddenly playing that same scale as fast as you could become much, much harder simply because the jumps between the notes the interval skips and what your guitar pick has to do to play those notes drastically changes so at the end of the day it becomes a moot point. You would physically have to slow down simply because the spaces between the notes and the time between the notes becomes longer even though by small amounts. So, at the end of the day it’s like chasing your tail

I mention things like this because I hate to see someone who is just starting out playing the guitar to watch these videos and you'll see the comments all the time “I could never play like that” or whatever the comment maybe most players get defeated before they even begin, they must realize that playing fast can involve many different techniques and facets of guitar playing and that some of the players you see in the videos may only be good at certain things fast. I thought I was a pretty hip fast guitar player when I started taking lessons and then I sat down and watched my jazz  teacher play chords and chord progressions  that I had never even heard before suddenly playing a scale fast just didn't seem that hard anymore and I realized that just being technically faster playing scales didn't make me a great guitar player it was a lot more to it than that so before you get caught up in the need for speed these are just some things I wanted to mention to put some ideas in your head that yes it's one goal to achieve speed but again it's not everything, not even close. You’ll find creating your own style and character as much or maybe more of a fulfilling challenge. 

If you practice correctly speed will come weather you want it to or not

For more info go to NewHavenGuitarLessons

© 2017   Mike Gayda


Does your strumming currently sound the same all the time? Would you like to know how to add some variety and interest to it? Do you want to know how to add more of a melodic touch so you can express your emotions more?

Why is strumming well so necessary to rhythm guitar? 

Playing rhythm is a big part of playing the guitar. It’s an essential skill for beginner guitarists to learn. A lot of the music that you will be playing will involve you strumming in it and you can think of your right hand is the hand expressing your emotions. 

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In this video, you can see me demonstrate what I mean so that you can replicate it. Once you’ve got the chords strumming now, then your guitar playing will sound so much better. You’ve spent all that time learning your chords, make that time worth it by making them sound awesome! 

The most common mistake beginners make when they strum 

When beginners strum the guitar, they treat it like a light switch. 

The strum up and down, like an on-off switch. The lack of variety is contributed from lack of dynamics and speed of the fingers or pick moving through the strings.  

If you are playing a rocky punk song, this type of playing is much more suitable. 

However, for a nice melodic song, we want to include a more melodic tone to the strumming to accompany the song. 

First off, let’s pretend the guitar strings is a cat, and we are going to be stroking it. So you want to start off slow and firm, and then speed up. So reproducing this with the guitar, you want to have the bass string emphasized by playing it slower than the other strings. As you strum down, the rest of the guitar strings are picked through quicker. 

How to work on this? 

Focus on just practicing strumming down strokes first using this method. And then repeat the progress for up strokes. When you are doing upstrokes, it is the highest string that will be the ones emphasised.

Once you are confident with both up and down strokes, then put it to a strumming pattern that includes both and practice that together. 

Make sure when your pick is traveling through the strings, it almost bounces off each string, rather than a forceful push through the strings. 

Another simple technique to take this further

Another way you can make your strumming more interesting is actually dividing the strings into two. 

When you strum on the first beat on the bar. Or perhaps the first and third beat of the bar. 

Strum only the lowest string, the bass string. And then strum the other strings for the rest of the beats. Like the following diagram: 

This takes the first technique even further by emphasizing the bass string of the chord. The higher strings will sound like the melodic accompaniments to the chord as well. 

You can combine both the techniques together so you can do more expressive with your strumming. Having the ability to be more creative will make your strumming sound a lot more professional. 

You can now use these new techniques to impress friends and families, even when you are playing exactly the same chords. 

I hope this article has helped you with your guitar playing and improve your strumming. Practise the two techniques until you can comfortably swipe between the different styles to bring variety to your playing. 

About the author: Darryl Powis is a guitar teacher and guitar school owner in London. 

If you are interested in electric guitar lessons East London then find out more by visiting his website. 


Does practicing guitar feel like a burden for you? Playing guitar should be fun, so you think there must be something wrong with your approach or you even doubt that the guitar is the right thing for you to learn. Believe me, we all have been there. This is normal sometimes. And there is the keyword. SOMETIMES. It should not be like that regularly, but there might be times, where you just have to punch through something. Maybe you have a difficult exercise on your list, that you simply cannot find anything exciting about and it messes with your motivation when you even think of it. You feel like avoiding your important practice time and spend your time that you DO practice doing things that are just a waste of time and not necessary for your progress. 

How do you know it is a waste of time? Simple, if you study with a great teacher: It is not something he told you to practice. If you do not have a teacher and you are on your own, it is much more difficult. Ask yourself this question:

“Does this exercise do anything to free me of my limitations?”

If the answer is “No”, or not a fully convinced “Yes”, very often your gut feeling is right.

So there is a difference between what you WANT to practice in that one particular moment and what you SHOULD be practicing instead.

When you feel overburdened with what you SHOULD be practicing, here is some advice on how to make practicing fun.

Vary the exercises

This also works splendid, when you combine this method with the two previously mentioned.

Don’t spend your whole practice session just working on only ONE topic.

Mix it and bring variation into your practice routine. In consequence, your practice sessions will be much less boring and a lot more exciting!

When you have been practicing with a dry sound for a long time, it will bring in some spice to add some effects on your amp to play with more confidence and for a change lets you see past the little mistakes that might occur.

Apply what you are learning to real context

To give the things that you are doing a greater sense, start applying them to real context as soon as you got a grasp on the overall concept. Start using the new scale sequence, implement it into a little solo, try out things with the new arpeggio you just learned, put your new chord in context with other chords and listen to how it sounds, experiment, be curious, be like an explorer!

How to get even more motivation out of this:

Create your own backing tracks with the new concepts you just learned and do not judge your work at all. Just do it, nobody has to hear it. A lot of great musicians and composers wrote a lot of stuff, that they would never present to anyone, and that is perfectly fine, because it helped them to learn how to compose better material.

When you made several of your own backing tracks, solo over them or integrate the new skill you just started to learn.

Track your progress

One of the most important things to do to feed your motivation.

Try tracking everything you are doing in your practice sessions. Either by the value on the metronome, or write down new musical theory concepts that you just learned about, list them up, look at them from time to time, so you can feel proud after just one week already and see directly, how much you have achieved already and see what it does for your confidence with your instrument.

About the Author: Michael Korte is a professional musician and guitar instructor from Germany and owner of http://www.gitarrenakademie-hagen.de/

How To Encourage Your Child To Practice Their Guitar 

This is often a topic that causes a lot of pain for parents, and the first thing we want to say today, most children will have stumbling blocks in their practicing, that’s just the way it is. 

There will be periods where their practicing will come nice and easy and some periods where it’s just a nightmare. One of the best things about learning an instrument for kids is that it builds their confidence over time and it introduces them to problem-solving skills. This is because there are periods that they go through where they can’t do something and then suddenly, when they’ve practiced enough and figured it out, they can do it! 

The great thing is that it shows them how, if they work at something, they will get better at it. This principle works for every aspect of life, and with an instrument, it really shows them that progress, and really builds their confidence. This translates to them being more confidence even ten years down the line because they have a tangible example of how applying themselves to an instrument will improve their skill. 

So here are some tips for helping your child to do more practice: 

Get a great teacher that your child loves having lessons with

This is really important if the kids enjoy the lessons they are going to. If they are having fun, and are in an enjoyable atmosphere. There will always be patches where they may enjoy it less, but if you have confidence in the teacher and your child also has that confidence in the teacher, it makes the whole process a lot easier. You know the work that the teacher is giving them is something they can do at home. 

A Practice Challenge

A nice way to encourage them to practice is to set a challenge and have a certain number of days that they have to practice continuously, and a goal for how much practice they do in that time. And at the end of it, have a reward. It doesn’t have to be a good thing, it could be some chocolates or a day out, or spending time with them. This just makes it even more fun and gets them into the habit of practicing. 

Make it a routine

Just like brushing your teeth, which isn’t optional, neither is guitar practice. As they build a routine, it is so much more valuable for them to be doing 5-10 minutes of practice a day than doing an hour once a week. They will make a lot more progress and help build their confidence through that progress. It will actually get them into the habit of doing the practice every day as well, which is how you learn things the fastest. 

Make a video of their progress

It’s easy now as a parent, and take your phone and record their playing. Do this once a month, so that in a few months time or in a year’s time, both of you can look back and see how much progress they have made. As you advance on the guitar, things will continue to seem difficult, because by challenging your child’s playing, that’s where the most progress is made. The role of the teacher is to challenge them. And when you’ve got those videos, your child can see how much progress they have made. It will be really inspiring for them to see that. 

Know what your child should be working on 

This is very important and especially for young children. You need to know what your child needs to be working on by communicating with the teacher. Just roughly know what they should be doing, so when they are working on their materials, you know whether they are actually doing practice, or just playing around. This gets you involved in the process and also then you know whether they are really doing practice. Because their playing will approve a lot as they practice properly. You can help hold them accountable at home and encourage them to do proper practice. 

This is an easy thing to do, just ensure your teacher involves you so you know what your child is learning in their lessons and what they should be working on at home. 

Get them performing

When your friends and family come round for dinner or for a visit, and especially when you know a few days in advance. You can let your child know that their relative would love to hear what they are working on. This really helps to motivate them because they want to do well. And when they perform, make sure you praise them for all the extra practice they have done in preparation for it. Any opportunities they may have at school to play in assemblies or performances should also be encouraged. The more practice they get at performing and doing well, the more confidence it builds and the more they will feel motivated to practice themselves. 

In conclusion, guitar playing is fun and enjoying, however, practice is essential to ensuring long-term success and progress on an instrument. As your child learns to overcome challenges on the guitar, they will build self-confidence in both their guitar playing and in life. This is why encouraging your child to practice when they are not feeling as up for it is important. Doing this in as fun and enjoyable way as possible will encourage them to build it into their daily habit and have great success at playing the guitar. 

I hope this has given you a few ideas on how to encourage your child to practice the guitar. If you are looking for a guitar teacher for your child or wanting to change guitar teachers and you are based in East London, we would love to hear from you and find out how we can help. 

About Author: Darryl Powis. A Guitar Instructor and Guitar School Owner based in East London. If you are looking for London guitar lessons for kids then get in touch with us via our website.  

5 Ways to Get More From Your Guitar lessons

Do you think guitar lessons are worth the time and the money?

They definitely should be, but only if you use them right. I’ve wasted a countless amount hours and dollars on either learning from a bad teacher, being a bad student, or both.

Nowadays a guitar teacher myself, I will give you some tips to approaching guitar lessons the right way.

  1. Choose the right teacher

Never, ever, choose a teacher on the basis of “who comes first”, “is the cheapest” or “is the closest to my home”.


Because a bad teacher can break you as much as a good teacher can make you.

Make sure your teacher is good at teaching, apart from playing, has your best interest in mind and is goal oriented.

Which brings us to the next point.

  1. Make your goals clear

Many teachers have a one size fit all method of teaching. Rather than focus on the student’s specific musical goals, they imagine all students have their own same goals.

I’ve been guilty of this myself at times. For instance, once I was so excited about a good student getting into a band and making a killer out of it, that I used to forget his main goal was not to play in a band but to learn his favorite songs.

Thus, I was giving him a lot more material than he needed on improvising his own solos and writing his own songs, and less on building a repertoire. (Link to: www.learnguitarmalta.com/learn-7-things-start-improvising-guitar

Bottom line is, we’re all human and even with the best of intentions at heart your guitar teacher may get sidetracked from what you really need.

Make your musical goals clear and don’t be afraid to remind them to your teacher once in a while.

  1. Be prepared

Your teacher will probably have prepared a lesson for you, but should also have prepared problems you want solved, if there are any.

Write down questions that arise while you’re practicing and ask them during your lesson.

  1. Ask the right questions

Not all questions are equal.

Some questions will give you answers that will help you improve and grow, while others are pretty much pointless.

If you ask your teacher something like:

“Why do I feel a lot of tension in my neck every time I practice something difficult, especially the solo I was working on this week? Have I developed a bad habit that I need to correct?”

Instead of:

“Why didn’t they just call it an F# or a Gb instead of giving two names to the same thing?”

You’re much more likely to get answers that will significantly contribute to you your guitar progress.

  1. Take the right decisions on taking music exams

You may, or may not, want to take music examinations.

What you don’t want to do is take exams for the simple reason that that is the one-size-fits-all style of your teacher.

Before you decide to enroll for any exams in guitar or music theory, ask yourself these two things: (Link to: www.learnguitarmalta.com/7-myths-about-music-theory )

  1. Is the syllabus in line with my short, mid and long term goals? Will I be learning things I will need and use, or will I have to study a lot of stuff just for the exam?
  2. Do I need the certificate?

You may not have the perfect answer to these questions yet, but by simply asking them, whatever your answer will be, it will be better than not having asked these the questions at all.

While I advise learning with a teacher at any stage, you need to make sure that he’s the right teacher, and that you’re the right student.

Because when the chemistry works, there are great things a teacher and a student can do together.

Robert Callus is a guitar player, teacher and songwriter from Malta. Read more articles on guitar practicing, songwriting and improvisation on www.learnguitarmalta.com