4 things you don’t need in order to become a great guitar player
A lot people think that to become a great guitar player, you need “natural talent”.
What does that mean exactly? Good physical coordination? A good ear? Good rhythm? Natural creativity? That’s typically what most people mean by “natural talent”. Let’s analyze each of these points and dispel a few myths.
1. “Natural” physical coordination
While it is true that some people have better physical coordination than others (usually because they have done other activities which have developed their coordination, such as sports or playing another instrument), it simply is a matter of practicing the right exercises, the right away, with the right focus, and the right amount of time. A good teacher will always help you find ways to overcome technical obstacles and anyone with the right plan and the right amount of dedication and focus can reach high levels of technique. Many people want to play styles which do only require an intermediate level of technique, and that is a level that literally anyone can reach in a year or less if they just put in the effort.
2. A “naturally good” ear
In the music teaching jargon, we talk of “aural skills”. Just like the name indicates, it is a skill, hence it can be developed. The only reason why some people seem to “naturally have a better ear than others” is because they have developed unconscious habits which have led them to develop their ear: singing along to songs they like, listening with an “active ear” whenever they listen to music, listen to genres that are more complex than your typical top 40 songs etc. They have just got into a habit of listening actively to the music, which is a habit you can take on as well. A good teacher will give you specific exercises and assignments which will help you develop your ear step by step and see tangible progress.
3. A “naturally good” sense of rhythm
This is exactly the same as having a good ear. People with good rhythm might have done a lot of dancing in their life, or they simply got into a habit of following a rhythm mentally when they hear a song they like, or to tap their foot along, or move their body in sync. They might have been “practicing rhythm” a lot without realizing it. You too can do it by making it a conscious habit, through specific exercises that will get you to grow your rhythm skills step by step.
4. “Natural” creativity
Musical creativity is just the ability to pick between different musical choices you could make (for example: end a musical phrase on a C vs on an E note), and use your ear to determine if it sounds good to you. The more you work on making small, easy variations on songs you already know to play, the more you will memorize which alternatives sound good to you and will “know in advance” what to play. This is what allows people to improvise on the spot, for example. It is a skill like any other, that has to be developed.
The main reason why some people seem “naturally creative” is because they have developed an unconscious habit of making variations on what they hear or play, and most importantly, because they are not afraid of “failing” by trying out many variations until something sounds good. Fear of failure is the number one killer of creativity, and the good news is that it is something you can choose to overcome!
So as you can see, the “natural talent” that seems out of your control is actually a set of skills you can develop methodically. So no more excuses, grab a guitar and start learning and progressing now!
About the author
Matthieu Delage is the director of the Escuela de Guitarra de Madrid, which is considered as providing some of the best guitar lessons in Madrid. It uses a proven method which has produced significant results for many guitar students. Matthieu es el director de la Escuela de Guitarra de Madrid, donde se imparten unas de las mejores clases de guitarra en Madrid Usa un método probado, que ha producido
importantes resultados para muchos alumnos.