Let’s get one thing out of the way: Playing the guitar is the greatest activity in the world! Now that the obvious is stated, we can focus on three often overlooked skills that will help you make the quantum leap from playing guitar in your bedroom to working as a musician.
GUITARIST VS. MUSICIAN
So what’s the difference between a guitarist and a musician anyway? Well, a guitarist may know a few chord grips, a couple of scale shapes, and a handful of songs on the guitar, but a musician who plays guitar has a deep and profound connection to the music he/she plays. Moreover, a musician has the aural skills and theoretical knowledge to improvise with confidence, compose with conviction, and the technical ability to add value to any ensemble he/she performs with.
Ear training is the ability to connect the music you hear every day to your theoretical knowledge. A good ear training regimen covers melody, rhythm, and harmony. Theta Music Trainer is an excellent resource if you’re new to ear training.
Of course, you can always grab your guitar, load up your favorite song on YouTube, and play what you hear. It’s hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you get!
Anyone can compose a great guitar riff or a beautiful song. It just takes a touch of moxie, a hint of dare do, and a dash of music theory. To get started, set aside some time each day to compose. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a symphony or a single lick, just do it. Do it every day. No. Matter. What.
Of course, a rudimentary understanding of musical forms will help take your compositions from creative spark to final product. Experiment with the three following musical forms to help complete your compositions:
- Binary (AAA)
- Ternary (ABA)
- Rondo (ABACA)
I highly recommend Guitar Pro 7 for turning your initial inspirations into finished masterpieces and share it with your friends or the rest of the world.
A repertoire is a collection of musical pieces played by an individual musician or ensemble. Having a repertoire is essential for two reasons: First, a repertoire helps you feel like a musician. Whether you’re performing for your family and friends or a packed stadium, nothing builds confidence better than playing a song from start to finish in front of an audience. Second, the process of building a repertoire develops your musicianship. For example, after the first five or ten songs, you will begin to understand how chords fit together with scales to form melodies and how licks and riffs fit together to create solos.
To get started, choose five easy songs you adore, create a playlist, and set aside 15-minutes each day to work through the song a single measure at a time. For building repertoire, I highly recommend Anytune for creating playlists, looping sections, and slowing down tricky bits.
Brian Parham is the author of Guitar for Kids: Rock Dojo The Complete Belt System, a complete system for playing, teaching, and sharing your passion for the guitar for the people you love most. Guitar for Kids features five must know musical concepts, step-by-step composition guides, and 11-awesome songs to add to your repertoire.