Manage your expectations
There’s no doubt that in order to get better at something you need to put time into it – consistently. If you don’t have much time, then make sure you put in what you do have, when you have it. For example, spending half an hour each day of the week would serve you far better than trying to cram 3 and half hours in on a Sunday each week. Believe me, whilst trying to learn the piano at 27, I can attest to that!
You should manage your expectations with regards to how quickly you’ll progress and give yourself time to learn. Even teenagers practising for hours in their bedrooms have had to put the hours in to get good. No one becomes a Rockstar overnight. So, be honest with yourself, why are you learning?
Playing the guitar has many benefits and I’d highly recommend it. Nothing de-stresses you quite like sitting down and playing a song you’ve learnt or learning a new song! It’s a welcome challenge and loads of fun and who knows, you might even end up writing your own songs.
Get a teacher
Having a guitar teacher is highly beneficial because they’ll force you to push yourself every week to get better and learn something new. If you don’t, your guitar might end up like that gym membership. Dusty and unused. Where did I put my access card to that gym…
A guitar teacher will show you the ropes and should get you doing the things you want to on the guitar. Whilst learning guitar finger exercises and ‘Mary had a little lamb’ have got their merits, we only really want to be able to play Wonderwall right? In all seriousness, you should try to learn songs that you like as soon as possible because that’s the reason you started playing in the first place.
Tips for learning the guitar as an adult
These days, we really have no excuse to not get better at playing the guitar. There’s a plethora of learning material on the internet and so much of it is free! You can teach yourself how to play but you won’t be able to work out if you’re picking up bad habits. This is why having a teacher or someone who knows about playing the guitar will help.
Luckily, many teachers are using Skype and other video webcam software to teach online. Try to find someone who will teach you one on one and you learn online!
Smartphones also have tons of apps that make playing the guitar easier. Here are some things you can do with a smartphone to make your learning process easier:
- Use a guitar tuner on your phone to tune up before you start playing
- Use an app to read tablature or music notation to learn songs
- Ear-trainer – to teach you how to identify notes
- Voice memos – to record yourself playing. This helps when listening back because you can hear where you’re going wrong. Or right!
- Chord chart apps – this is essential to get used to playing new chords. Like the opening chord in Princes Purple Rain!
- Metronome – gone are the days of the old wooden block metronome. Instead, tap your screen to the right tempo and get playing in time!
As you can see, there’s no real barrier to learning the guitar as an adult apart from perhaps owning the instrument and believing that you can do it. And you can do it!
Famous players that started playing the guitar late
- Tom Morello from Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine only started seriously playing the guitar in college.
- Rusty Cooley – the famous shredder – started in his late teens
- Glenn Tipton from Judas Priest
- Wes Montgomery started at 20
These are all famous players in various styles that started quite late.
What if I’m older than 21?
It really doesn’t matter how old you are as long as you commit yourself to learning and don’t get frustrated – trust the process and it’ll come with time. Your finger muscles may take time to adjust and the instrument might feel clunky at first but the longer you play, the more your fingers will be able to stretch and nail those notes!