There are very few of us that have the luxury of being 100% dedicated to the art of classical guitar playing. And even those that are have lives, families, other interests and commitments that must have time devoted to them away from the guitar.
So with this time we have available to us from playing and practice – one hour out of 24 for most of us if we’re lucky – it helps to know what things to really focus on to get the most bang from your practice buck and master (or at least begin to master!) the classical guitar.
1. Find a good teacher and see them on a regular basis
Without a doubt this is this tip that will get you the biggest bang for your buck and set you on the way to mastering the instrument. A good teacher has been there and done it, been through the years of practice, understands the best ways to practice. They can help devise a program (for want of a better term) of learning that is suited to just you, as we’re all different and learn in different ways at different paces. They can provide an objective view point to pick on things in your playing that you’re perhaps not hearing, feeling or seeing. They help you see the woods for the trees. They can provide knowledge and experience that YouTube videos and the like simply cannot provide, honing in on technical and musical elements that you may need to develop or work on further. A good teacher will show to you a world that was previously unknown to you – they will show to you those unknown unknowns technically and musically.
A good guitar teacher is, in my opinion, the number one way to move towards mastery of the classical guitar, regardless of what level you’re currently playing at. And to achieve the greatest advantage from having sought out a guitaristic sage? Take lessons with them regularly – a week is the optimal. Any longer than that and bad habits can start to creep in. Weekly lessons really help keep that momentum rolling and your playing will improve no end.
Learning to relax physically when playing is of the utmost importance – it will make playing feel a whole lot more fluid, a whole lot easier. When you see a great maestro of any instrument or even a sports star, for example, the way they move and play looks effortless. That’s because it is! They’ve done the work, the practice, and now they’re just going with the flow, allowing their bodies to relax and do its thing.
You’ll end up with far fewer injuries and significantly reduce the risk of acquiring them in the first place.
And your tone will sound fantastic too. Less muscular tension, less squeezing the life out of the neck, less hardened and rigid plucking away at the strings will leave more space and energy for producing a beautiful sound.
Learn to relax mentally too (this will hep with the physical relaxation) and understand that things take time. You’ll get there.
3. Enjoy it!
This might sound like a daft one, but you’d be surprised. Some can get so caught up in the day-to-day practice, the habit of it, they just “do” because that’s what they’ve always done. They’re not really enjoying it. They’re not having fun with it. Always make sure you’re having fun with it and it will never be a chore. Sure, there will be times when you’re frustrated, challenged, finding something tricky and so on (this is where a good teacher helps you out), but by and large the over-riding feeling on your journey of classical guitar mastery should be one of enjoyment. I say, what is the point otherwise?!