No matter if you are old or young, picking up a guitar is a wonderful idea that will give you countless hours of enjoyment.
There are many different aspects of learning a guitar, and in this blog post, we’ll be going through some of the most basic things that you’ll need to consider before diving into some lessons. Consider this entire post an introductory lesson to guitar playing, as it will be similar to the things you learn at any guitar lesson. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the key points that will help you learn guitar.
What are you learning guitar for?
It seems like a simple question but there are many different meanings to these words. First, ask yourself what you plan to learn the guitar for. Are you trying to impress some friends? Do you want to start a band? Or do you want to just have a hobby that you can learn a little and enjoy? It feels strange to ask these questions, but it’s important because it can define your path to learning the guitar.
Make sure you’re truthful to yourself about why you want to learn the guitar! The last thing you want to do is spend several days learning detailed music theory when all you want to do is read tabs (tabs are an easy form of guitar music notation that indicate sting position not musical pitches/notes). Not everybody needs to be fluent in notes, scales and music theory to have fun playing the guitar.
What type of guitar do you want to play?
There are many different types of guitars, but the two main categories are acoustic and electric. Acoustic guitars can all sound different depending on the shape, the strings used (typically nylon or steel_ and even the types of materials used. Electric guitars, on the other hand, do have their various sound profiles, but the majority of the effects and wild sounds you get from an electric guitar will come from the effects you use and also the amp.
What this means is that an electric guitar needs far more investment to get the right sounds that you want, and it takes a lot of experimentation. On the other hand, an acoustic guitar can just be bought and played without having to purchase a separate amp or effect pedals. However, the variety of sounds you can get is much lower, so be sure to listen to acoustic and electric guitars to find out which you prefer.
The best guitar to learn with
There’s a lot of contradicting advice when it comes to what guitar you should learn with. However, most people find that their enjoyment has a lot to do with the success rate of their learning, which is why most people would suggest picking one that you enjoy and sticking with it. If you want to play acoustic guitar because you enjoy the sound of it, then purchase an acoustic. If you prefer rock and metal music, then an electric guitar will suit you better.
Something to keep in mind is that acoustic guitars can be a little harder to play because the strings are further away from the fret board. This results in more force being required to push the strings down for it to make the correct sound. For beginners, this can be incredibly frustrating, but it does build up your finger strength much faster and it’s not a huge issue.
There’s also the argument that acoustic guitars are more convenient and cheaper to operate. This is true, but electric guitars aren’t exactly expensive either. In fact, because the sound the guitar makes is fed through a cable and modified with effects, you can actually use a computer or even a mobile phone as an amplifier with the right cables and software. This can save you a lot of money, but it can be rather annoying to set up if you aren’t computer or guitar-savvy. However, you should also keep in mind that acoustic guitars cannot be lowered in volume unless you play lightly. Electric guitars don’t make much sound without an amp, which means they are a little more discreet and convenient for practice.
Motivation while playing
When you learn guitar, it’s important to remember that motivation plays a big role in your success rate. As mentioned before, different people have different reasons for trying to learn to play the guitar, and if your reason is something long-term then it can be hard to muster up the courage and motivation to continue. For instance, if you plan to learn slowly and pick up all the chords, notes and scales, then all you will be playing are simple notes and scales. It will be a long time until you can actually play a song or perform something that sounds pleasing to the ear and not just a scale or some chords.
That’s why it’s recommended to learn some songs or at least a couple of riffs no matter what your study routine is. Playing the same few chords over and over can build up your finger strength, but it’s not very fun and it’s more enjoyable to actually play a song you know and learn it with the knowledge that you have been taught. This is usually what motivates people into playing the guitar over a longer period of time.
The importance of a coach
Although it’s entirely possible to teach yourself how to play the guitar, it’s great to have a coach that can assist you in your guitar lessons. It helps to have someone correct your mistakes, watch how you handle a guitar and also give advice on the complications that arise when playing the guitar. Your fingers will hurt, you will develop calluses and you may even be so frustrated that you’ll put down the guitar and never play again.
A coach will not only teach you, but will help you overcome obstacles and difficulty you encounter as you learn. Having someone to guide and teach you is invaluable, which is why you should never underestimate the importance of a coach when you’re taking guitar lessons. Although there are plenty of online resources and mobile apps to help you learn, nothing will beat one-on-one time with a dedicated teacher that has experience.
Make sure you start off slow and steady when attempting to learn the guitar. The last thing you want is to rush head-first into learning the guitar, only to feel burned out at the overwhelming amount of information you need to remember in order to play. Find your own source of motivation, keep your morale high and you’ll find that the key to learning guitar is to ultimately have fun.
Hi everyone we hope that 2016 was a big and productive year for you and that you’re ready for a break before gearing up for 2017.
We know we are!
Below is some important info about your lessons at IMA – as always, any questions or concerns please email or call.
Can we wish you and your family a safe and joyful Christmas and a fantastic New Year. Bring on 2017!
Christmas Closing Dates
IMA will be closed for Christmas between 23rd of Dec and the 2nd of January inclusive. If you’ve booked a term of lessons recently, the term will skip over the dates that we’re closed and continue in the new year.
Here’s a list of dates that we’ll be closed on in 2017. All other public holidays, lessons will continue as usual:
New Years Day Holiday: Monday 2nd January
Australia Day: Thursday 26th of January
Easter Monday Monday 17th April
ANZAC Day: Tuesday 25th of April
Price Increase 2017
Beginning in January 2017 there will be a small increase in our lesson prices. We have been holding our prices steady since late 2012. Unfortunately, rising costs have forced us to respond.
To help us maintain the high standard of our tuition our new prices are as follows:
School Terms: $40 / lesson
12 week blocks $40 / lesson
9 week blocks $42 / lesson
6 week blocks $44 / lesson
3 week blocks $ 46 / lesson
Casual Lessons $48 / lesson
To ease the impact of our price rise we have a special offer for all our existing clients.
BOOK AND PAY FOR YOUR NEXT TERM BEFORE 22/12/2016 AND YOU WILL PAY 2015 PRICES (please ask admin for details)
Thanks so much for the privilege of helping you to make music this year. We look forward to making more great music with you in 2017.
November is shaping up to be extra busy at IMA. We’ve got a lot of events happening throughout the month on top of our usual busy lesson times. There are going to be some great opportunities to play, listen and catch up with your fellow music-makers and just generally have a good time.
(Under 18s – 22nd of November 11 am) (Over 18s – 22nd of November 2:30 pm)
IMA Concerts are the biggest event of November. We run two concerts, two times a year. One for under 18s and one for over 18s. They’re an awesome opportunity to play with a professional band on stage. Also to be in front of a friendly and supportive audience. If you’ve not been to an IMA Concert before and you’re not performing, come along and check it out. There’s great music and you’ll supporting and encouraging the performers which they’ll really appreciate.
If you’re playing in the concert, you may want a rehearsal with the band…..
(20th & 21st of November 9am – 3pm)
Not everyone needs a rehearsal with the IMA band before they do the concert. If it’s your first time performing it’s a good idea. Definitely a good thing to discuss with your mentor. We’ve got a couple of firsts this year in relation to the concert rehearsals:
We’ll be rehearsing at our new Ashgrove location. It’s got a much larger area that is for ensembles and group classes.
By the time you get to rehearsals, you should have your piece well rehearsed. One of the important aspects of performance is stagecraft. Performing on stage can be a completely different thing to performing in your bedroom. That’s why we suggest that you check out our Performance Workshops.
(Over 16yo – Saturday, 14 November 2015 from 8:30am to 12:30pm) (Under 16yo – Saturday, 14 November 2015 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm)
Emma and Lauren will be hosting this workshop. They’ll be covering things like:
Performance anxiety and how to beat it!
Good microphone technique.
Stage presence, how to move freely on stage and capture an audience.
Once a month we hold Jam Night. Our clients choose from a list of songs that they’d like to play, and the IMA Band learns the tune for you. On the night, you get to get up in front of a friendly audience of friends, family and fellow performers. It’s great way to get used to playing in front of people in a comfortable, supportive environment.
If you’re in the concert, this can also be a great opportunity to give your song a try before the day.
If you’ve ever wanted to play guitar and you’ve been finding excuses why not to start, this is the event for you. This is a great introduction to the instrument, and at $59 for 4x 1hr lessons it’s extremely good value. Singers, this is an excellent way to get started with accompanying yourself on guitar.
Do you have friends who always talk about learning the guitar but never start? Just send them here:
Most of us have limited time for practice. Whatever time that we have, has to be used effectively. So how do you get the most from the practice time that you have? In this blog post, I’ll explore some methods I’ve found to improve practice effectiveness. This is admittedly from a guitarists point of view, I am a guitarist after all. Ask your IMA Mentor how to apply these techniques to your instrument.
Listen To What You’re Doing
I know that sounds like a strange thing to say, but it’s a problem we see everyday when mentoring our clients. Getting too caught up in the mechanics of what you’re doing is a problem. It prevents you from hearing what you’re actually doing.
Just playing, without listening intently to what you’re doing doesn’t help you improve. To change your focus to be more audio based, try listening to just one part of the sounds you’re making.
How does the note I’m playing now start?
How does it end?
Stay focussed on the sound of what you’re doing exactly when you’re doing it. This skill can take a little while to learn. Like all things, with practice you will build up those ‘listening muscles’.
There are a few things that you can do to help this process along:
Play everything slowly enough so that you can hear and understand what you’re doing. When practicing with a metronome, I would ‘penalise’ myself 5 beats per minute for every mistake that I made. This ensured that I was going slowly enough to play whatever I was working on perfectly. Once I could achieve that then I could speed it up.
Play In Front Of A Mirror
Humans are visually focused animals. When we hear a sound, it’s a cue for us to look to see where it came from so that we can identify it. We always turn to look at what we’re listening to. When you practice in front of a mirror, it can be like looking at another performer. This can help us listen a little more intently.
“Listening in the 3rd” person as I like to call it means that you’re listening as if it’s not you making the sound. This can help you to detach yourself from the act of making the music and be more aware of the sound. It also allows you to “sit back and enjoy the music”. We play music because we love it, so this has got to be the best outcome of all.
It can also help you be aware of your technique. As a guitarist I look for things like:
Are your fingers up against the frets
Are your fingers on their tips
Are you pulling weird facial expressions
Are you pulling the strings to one side?
Be aware of these things, don’t worry about them. Awareness is the first step. Sometimes being aware is enough and you’ll start to correct the problem without too much thought.
Developing Better Awareness Of Your Body
While you’re in front of the mirror you can also:
Keep an eye on your breathing
Watch for shoulder tension
Watch for jaw tension
Being aware of tension in the body and working on relaxing that tension can improve your playing significantly in a short space of time. Try breathing slowly while you practice. The breath out is the most important. Try relaxing your shoulders as you breathe out. Not only will this relax you, but it will make learning faster and playing easier.
Use An Echo / Delay Effect
Got an electric or an acoustic with a pickup? Do you own an echo or delay pedal? Try:
Setting the effect unit to 100% mix with 800ms of delay time.You can then listen back to each phrase after you play it.
Setting the effects unit to 50% mix and play along with yourself. Try playing one note over and over again in a regular rhythm like straight crotchets (1/4 notes) or quavers (1/8 notes). This can help you with playing along with other musicians, keeping a steady tempo and learning to listen to what you’re doing and correcting it on the fly. For a more sophisticated version of this exercise, have a listen to Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” and “Another Brick In The Wall Pt I”.
Using A Looper Pedal
If you’re lucky enough to own a looper pedal, you can ‘record’ yourself playing some chords or some sort of rhythm part. Then you can layer another part over the top. This can be hours of fun and really good practice for your rhythm playing.
Recording What You Practice
Simply recording what you’re working on can provide some great feedback. Don’t be too harsh with yourself though. Keep what you’ve done for at least a couple of days and then listen back again. You may find yourself much more forgiving after you have some perspective.
Try laying down a backing track or chord progression, then improvise over the top. This can be a great way to practice your soloing (as well as your rhythm playing).
Archiving What You Record
Don’t throw out those old recordings. They’re great to go back to hear how much you’ve improved. I really recommend going back every three months or so and having a listen to some old recordings. You’ll be surprised at how much better your playing has become.
Working In Headphones
The human brain has a preference for reflected sound over direct sound. That means that if you’re listening to a sound source in a room (like someone talking to you), you’ll be focused on the sound reflecting off the walls in preference to the sound coming out of the person’s mouth. To a small extent, we use sound to echolocate. Working in headphones eliminates the reflected sound, and helps you focus on what’s really coming out of your instrument.
Silencing Internal Dialogue
Concentrating on breathing and relaxation are a great way to eliminate that internal dialogue. You know the voice inside your head that says, “Here comes the hard bit” or “I’m going to stuff this part up again”. You can’t tell this part of your brain to be quiet, that’s just giving it focus. Instead, focus on other things like breathing, relaxing and listening and that voice will fade into the distance.
Don’t Forget To Enjoy Yourself!
To sum up, probably the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. That’s why we love playing an instrument or singing after all!
If you’ve got questions, feel free to share them in the comments.
IMA Jam Nights are a great way to get experience performing in front of a friendly, supportive audience of IMA Staff and clients.
What should I know?
That IMA Jam Nights are fun! You don’t have to be nervous or self-conscious as everyone in the audience and on stage are doing exactly what you are. Everyone involved are current or past clients of IMA, so don’t be shy! You can have a chat with anyone there, they’ll know what your talking about when it comes to performing for the first time in front of an audience.
You should be able to play along with a recording of the song you want to perform, without stopping.
Check with your IMA Mentor and have them help you choose a piece that works for you. You get to choose two pieces from The IMA Jam Night songlist.
Once your mentor has confirmed your song, buy a performers ticket for the Jam Night you’re interested in attending.
Buy your performers ticket at least a week before the Jam Night. Tickets close the Friday night before the jam night so that the IMA Band has enough time to learn your songs.
You might have some friends and family coming along, so make sure that they buy a a general ticket also. General tickets are available up to half an hour before the Jam Night starts.
Not ready to perform yet?
That’s ok! if you’re thinking of performing at an IMA Jam Night in future, come along and be part of the audience. You’ll get a feel for how the night goes and you can be part of the fun and support our great IMA client performers.
As we all know, progress on any musical instrument (or voice) is about regular practice and refinement. The end of year madness can sometimes get in the way of your musical progress, so we’ve created some flexible terms to help you keep your music moving forward over the holidays.
Book all or any of these weeks and keep your lessons going. Only $37 per ½ hour lesson (Kids and Adults):
15th – 20th Dec 2014
22nd – 23rd Dec 2014
5th – 10th Jan 2015
12th – 16th Jan 2015
19th – 24th Jan 2015
Every six months, IMA puts on not one, but two outstanding client concerts. One for over 18s and one for under 18s.
Clients who feel that they’re ready to get up and perform in a safe supportive environment practise one song to performance standard. IMA staff form the backing band, and work incredibly hard to recreate the songs as closely as possible to what’s on the album. This means that our mentors are learning up to 70~80 songs for the two events!
Feedback from our clients and audiences is always incredibly positive. Family and friends of performers are more than welcome and we encourage everybody to stay for the whole event and support every performer who gets on stage.
If you’re an IMA client and you’re don’t feel you’re ready to perform yet, feel free to come along, checkout the great music and see what it’s all about.