Do you want to break free from bad habits and become a better player? Let’s take a look at some of the most common bad habits in playing guitar and how to overcome them.
Break bad habits and establish good habits in playing guitar.
Practice makes it permanent. The process of repetition will eventually become a habit and result in a natural action. Our actions should be taken with careful thought because this will greatly affect our output in playing guitar.
10 Bad Habits in Playing Guitar!
When it comes to playing guitar, bad habits can sneak up on you without you even realizing it. The following are 10 of the most common bad habits in playing guitar:
- Not learning music theory
As mentioned, skipping the fundamentals of music theory will not help. Though you might feel it’s unnecessary and you want to start learning to play a song right away. I tell you, it’s not that complicated because it’s just a review from what our music teachers taught us since grade school.
- Playing without warming up
Just like any physical activity or when singing, warming up is vital. Guitarists are definitely not exempted so it will not hurt your fingers or arm.
- Bad posture when playing the guitar
Your position affects your performance, the strength exerted and the sound it produces. It can even cause physical pain if you don’t correct it.
- Playing without a Metronome
Music is not done alone, it can make you happy at first but definitely sharing it to others is more fulfilling. Much more, playing with others adds to the fun and joy in playing guitar. Metronome will keep you and everyone in sync. You will appreciate the song better if you play it accordingly.
- Inconsistent Practice
Practicing fifteen minutes daily is better than practicing five hours in one day. It is our goal to build muscle memory, it is only achieved through repetition.
- Learning Everything At Once
Slow is fast, one bite at a time enables you to enjoy the taste, chew and swallow your food properly. This is the same when learning to play guitar. It helps you understand faster, learn better and remember the lesson well. Learning everything at once will make you a “jack of all trades, master of none”.
- Playing too fast as a beginner
Forcing yourself to play fast as a beginner might build sloppy techniques long term. You must be careful to build the right muscle memory.
- Focusing on one music genre
When you only choose to listen to your favorite genre then you are depriving yourself to grow more and enjoy music in its fullness. All genres hold value and treasure you need to discover and take advantage.
- Learning Guitar On Your Own
Yes, you can still learn to play guitar on your own or with a friend but having a coach is the best option. Learning from a professional will keep you on the right track and spare you from unnecessary stress trying to figure out which lesson should come first and what’s next. You can learn faster when you are surrounded with people of the same passion or interest.
- Not having fun!
It is our goal to play it right but being too hard on yourself hinders you to enjoy the journey. Your small steps and small progress is worth celebrating.
Establishing Good Habits In Playing Guitar.
If we want to be good at something, it is important to have a good foundation. The same goes with learning to play guitar, we should make sure that we are starting on the right foot.
1. Learning the Fundamentals of Music
One of the most important things a guitarist should do is to learn music theory. This will lay down the foundation and provide a better understanding of how music works. Not learning music theory will make it difficult to progress further in your guitar playing journey.
This is a checklist to keep you guided:
- Elements of Music: Pitch, Rhythm, Melody, Dynamics
- Basic Musical Notation: The Staff , Grand Staff: Treble & Bass Staff
- Measures and Bar Lines
- Notes (with its length or beats)
- Time Signatures
- Tempo & Metronome
2. Doing Warm Up Exercises
Warm up exercises are not just for athletes, even guitarists need to do them too! Warming up your muscles and joints will help prevent injuries and also help you play better.
Body and Arm Stretching
Stand straight with your body touching the wall.
Move one to two steps forward and bring both arms at the back of your body. Stretch your arms down while locking both hands and hold it for 5 to 8 counts or more, as long as you’re comfortable. Then stretch your arms forward perpendicular to your body (90 degrees) and hold it in a few seconds. Still, with both hands locked together, stretch your arms above your head and hold it for 5 to 8 counts.
Finger Exercises (with and without guitar)
Spend 5 or 10 minutes doing some simple finger stretching exercises.
- Finger stretching exercises without the guitar
First, you need to stretch your fingers individually. Use the edge of a table or desk and place the tip of each finger on the edge of the table. Make your finger straight and in line with the top surface. Slowly push down so your finger bends back. Apply the same method for all four fingers. Other fingers should be closed against the palm. Do this slowly and carefully!
You can also use a similar method against a wall or try stretching all the fingers together by pushing the other fingers closed against the palm.
- Finger stretching exercises using the guitar
You can use the neck of the guitar for one final stretching exercise. Simply create a V shape between two fingers at a time and lodge the neck between them, pushing two fingers apart.
- Finger Warm Up Exercises for Guitar
After your 5 minute finger exercises, you can now warm up using the guitar fretboard. This will further loosen those fingers up and get your picking coordination calibrated, ready for playing.
Chromatic finger warm up exercises
This is a classic way to warm up. Chromatics basically involve playing a sequence of semitone/half step (one fret) intervals one after the other. It uses all four fingers playing the notes on the first four frets of all six strings:
- Index – first finger on first fret
- Middle – second finger on second fret
- Ring – third finger on third fret
- Pinkie – fourth finger on fourth fret
Follow this pattern to play chromatic exercise:
- E / 6th string: Open String (O), 1, 2, 3, 4
- A / 5th string: O, 1, 2, 3, 4
- D / 4th string: O, 1, 2, 3, 4
- G / 3rd string: O, 1, 2, 3, (don’t play the 4th fret)
- B / 2nd string: O, 1, 2, 3, 4
- e / 1st string: O, 1, 2, 3, 4
Use alternate picking: Up/Down stroke for each note.
Start slow, using a metronome, and speed up gradually, making sure you are playing each note cleanly. You should only increase the speed of the metronome once you are 100% confident with the current speed.
3. Proper Posture and Placement of Arms and Fingers
The way you sit or stand when playing the guitar has a big impact on your performance. Having good posture will help you play better, prevent injuries and make you more comfortable while playing.
Guitar playing is definitely not a one size fits all. Depending on your height, size, and the guitar itself, you will have to adjust how you sit or stand when playing the guitar.
- Sit upright with your shoulder comfortably rested
- Do not strum swaying your elbow, sway from your wrist and it will move your arms along with it.
- Use your finger tip in pressing a note or the string. Find that sweet spot.
- Press the note close to the fretwire, not in the middle of the fret nor on the fretwire.
- Curve your fingers when playing a note or a chord. Avoid laying your fingers flat on the fretboard to avoid touching and muting the other strings or creating a buzzing sound.
4. Using a Metronome
A metronome is a tool that keeps a steady beat. It is essential in helping guitar players (especially beginners) to play with proper timing and rhythm.
The most important thing to remember when using a metronome is to start slow and gradually increase the speed. Trying to play too fast too soon will only result in sloppy playing and bad habits. Increase your speed only if you are confident with the current speed.
- Set a time and place to practice daily.
- Practice 10-15 minutes a day consistently.
- Listen to different genres for music appreciation.
Keep Building Strong!
It’s essential to monitor your progress. Habits are easy to make, but hard to break. Remember that bad habits are usually harder to break than good habits are to make!
Don’t forget to come back and practice the things you’ve learned! Reviewing is key to becoming a great musician.
By now, you should have a good understanding of how to fix some bad habits that you may have developed while playing guitar.
Discipline yourself to build good habits and gain stability and solid muscle memory that will help you learn fast and achieve best guitar playing techniques.