Following on from a recent post on getting yourself playing a again after a holiday or a relatively short time away from the guitar, a few folks have emailed me to ask how they go about getting back into playing classical guitar again after a much longer time away from it. Of course, it’s difficult to give specific advice as different folks have reached differing levels of proficiency prior to a hiatus, learn at different speeds, have different goals with their playing and many other variable, but I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts and ideas on getting going again with some serious classical guitar learning and playing.
1. Don’t over think it and have fun!
Regardless of what level of proficiency you got to when you went on your guitar playing sabbatical, it’s so so important at this stage to rediscover the reason why you started playing the guitar in the first place – because it’s fun! Yes, it will be important after not too long a time to get stuck into some technical exercises, but perhaps a good place to start is just sitting down with the guitar and having some fun with it. Enjoy holding the instrument, strumming it, plucking it, playing a few bits of tunes that you remember, recalling and remembering how to make a beautiful sound with it.
2. Build good habits
This is the time to build good practice habits, and ensuring you’re doing a little playing each and every day is a great way to do this. Even if you’re not really feeling like it, just sitting down for 10 minutes with the guitar to play something, be it a scale or two, a little piece or a couple of technical exercises can help build in that practice habit once again.
3. Make sure your gear is up to the task
If your guitar has been sitting in its case under the bed for a long time, perhaps a year (or more!), then I’d dare say it probably needs a new set of strings. Strings degrade and corrode over time due to atmospheric exposure, even if you’ve not been putting your grubby little mitts all over them for a while. Put a new set of strings on your guitar and you will start out playing the instrument sounding at its best.
Of course, this could also be a good opportunity to treat yourself to a new guitar too! 😉 Any excuse….
4. Treat yourself to some new music to learn
You may have gotten bored of that same old tune you were learning before you packed your guitar away under the bed or into the cupboard, so give yourself something brand, spanking new to learn. If you’re finding it tricky to get back into the practice habit a brand new piece of music to learn is
If you’ve not played in a long while I’d probably advise giving some music a try that’s a little easier than the level you’d previously gotten to. This will give your brain and fingers a chance to get back up to speed again without you getting frustrated or disheartened by something that may feel too tricky at this stage.
5. Find a good teacher
If you’re serious about really getting stuck into playing classical guitar again, improving your proficiency on the instrument and becoming an even better musician then you can’t really overlook the help and advice from a good teacher or mentor. If you’ve not played in a long time, yes, you can take tips and so on from blogs like these, but this advice is rather general. A good teacher, through regular weekly lessons, will be able to talk with you about what you want to do, observe your playing, listen to your sound, look at your physical state when playing, observe your reading (amongst many other things) and really help you, as an individual, to get firing on all cylinders again with your playing.