How To Become A Great Guitarist: 5 Keys to Achieving Greatness In Your Guitar Playing
As someone who is committed to excellence in his life as a musician, I also take great pride in helping other musicians realize their full potential and achieve greatness in their musical lives. After spending thousands of hours and many years teaching guitar and training musicians of many different skill levels, backgrounds, goals, age groups and locations, I have proven that there exist five ‘keys’ that must be attained to achieve greatness as a guitarist.
Key #1 actually requires absolutely no effort to attain. It is your ‘potential’ as a guitar player. There are tons of guitarists out there who think that you can only become great if you are born with natural talent or if your family is made up the right ‘genes’ handed down through generations of musicians. This is 100% not true as I’ve seen time and time again after helping MANY guitarists who weren’t talented (at first) grow to become virtuoso players.
The main idea is you and everyone else already has endless potential to become great. However, you will ‘not’ become great unless you believe in this fact (and take action on your beliefs). Until you believe that you have the potential for greatness, you will simply make excuses and settle for being ‘average’ at best.
Whether you think you CAN or CAN’T become great, you are right! After continually accepting certain thoughts and ideas, they become your reality. With this in mind, I have never come across a guitar player who truly aspires to be ‘merely average’ at best. Additionally, I know that YOU want to achieve much more than mediocrity… you want to achieve greatness. I know this because you are reading this article right now about becoming a great guitar player.
So this is a summary of what we know so far:
1. Everyone already has the potential to achieve greatness.
2. You become what you believe.
3. Every guitarist wants to become great.
So with all this in mind… why do the majority of guitarists never become great? This problem can be resolved by reading about the remaining four keys. In almost every case, guitar players who don’t become great ‘fail’ because they do not utilize all of the remaining keys to their fullest extent. Fortunately, no matter where you are in the process of attaining these keys, you CAN become great. You CAN overcome any obstacles in your way. If you have a tendency to make excuses for why you can’t do things because you feel like your situation is ‘a special case’… drop this habit immediately! Regardless of your specific situation or challenge (even if you feel it really is legitimately different from others’ situations/challenges), you can and will overcome it to reach your goal.
Key #2: The initial problem that will keep you from becoming great as a guitarist is the fact that you’ve never actually been presented with a clear definition of what greatness really is. Truth is, being great has nothing to do with the speed at which you can play guitar solos, knowing how to play like your favorite players or developing better musical skills. It’s likely that you’ve heard others describe greatness in this way many times before… but in reality most of these people are not really qualified to tell you these things. You must understand exactly what it means to be great from a core and fundamental level while forgetting about the other superficial things people say.
You need someone to take you aside and say, “This is what greatness looks like while implementing the things you learn about playing guitar, making music or improvising.” “This is what it looks like to be great in the way you learn things, how you learn them, the specific things you learn and the exact order that you learn the things you want to master.” “Here is what greatness looks like in the context of total self-expression as a guitarist and musician.” “Here is what true greatness looks like while organizing your practice time to effectively reach your guitar playing goals.” “This is what it means to be great in the context of staying mentally focused while training and how this approach differs from regular practice.” “This is what it looks like to achieve greatness when you are doing everything in the right order, at the right time and becoming highly-proficient in all areas.” The point is that ‘musical greatness’ isn’t just a single thing – it is the result of having greatness in every step you take through the process of becoming a great musician. You must learn what it looks/feels like as you go through the process of reaching greatness within yourself.
Key #3: You must totally understand (with 100% clarity) the things you want to achieve as a guitar player and musician. If you do not understand these things in ‘great detail’, how will you ever accomplish them? It would be like thinking to yourself, “I want to get my mom a present for her birthday, but I have no idea what she wants or what to get for her. I’m not sure if she wants candles, pictures, a card, a nice blouse, a fishing pole or… a power drill.” So the day before her birthday you go up to the mall and walk around for hours until finally you settle for some lame present. Then her birthday arrives and the whole family is there at the dinner table when your mom opens your present… a 15 dollar gift card to a fast food restaurant (that she doesn’t even like).
Ok, back to music: When you don’t have a clear picture of what it is that you want from guitar, there is no way for you to know which path to take, what material to study or which strategies need to be employed. You MUST understand the exact things you want to accomplish because this is what will help you identify the choices you need to make and the actions that are required to accomplish your stated goals.
Key #4: As for the small group of musicians who already know what greatness looks like in the ways I discussed above, and have the complete picture of what road will lead them there… there remains yet another obstacle in their way and a new key to attain.
The truth is, the overwhelming majority of guitar players out there do not believe in themselves, lack confidence, and don’t think they have the capacity to dedicate themselves to truly achieving greatness.
So instead of achieving greatness, they give up and return to the habit of always taking the path of least resistance. As a result, they only are able to achieve mediocre results and end up feeling disappointed in themselves because they know deep down that they are not reaching their fullest potential. This makes it even harder for them to do what it takes to become a great guitarist.
Key #5: If you are able to…
1. Understand what greatness looks like in all areas.
2. Choose the strategies that will help you reach it in the quickest and most effective manner possible.
3. Have total faith in yourself that you can fulfill your potential and advance forward.
… then you will take action to become the great guitar player you desire to be, can be and ‘ought’ to be. However, be aware that you can still lose your way, become confused, upset, impatient, or distracted… leaving you back where you started in a mindset of mediocrity. Fact is, it is way easier to give up and accept a life of ‘being average’ than it is to stay on course and do anything it takes to become great. So why does this happen exactly? Why do so many people give up in their pursuit of greatness and return to their comfort zone (never to accomplish anything truly great)? It is my belief that this occurs when you are lacking someone who is there to inspire you, believe in your capacity to succeed, support you, hold you accountable and help you up in times when you fall flat on your face. You don’t have someone there who can empathize with your situation because that person has experienced it many times as well. You must have all five keys to become a great guitarist. You must have someone on your side with tons of experience, who will support you, train you and give you massive amounts of inspiration… a person who will guide you along the correct path and make sure that you remain on that path until achieve the greatness you were destined to achieve.
This article is not a sales message or anything like that. There is nothing being sold here. I simply want to give you insight to help you understand why you have not yet reached the level you want to be at as a guitarist, and what you must do to finally accomplish what you have been destined to achieve since birth – Unstoppable Greatness!
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher, composer and musician mentor. As the leader in online guitar instruction, he has taught guitar players in many countries with his informative guitar articles, guitar video lessons, and professional guitar playing tips on his professional guitar lessons website.