Most of you probably want to have a perfect performance: a magic few minutes where everything fits together and your audience leaves astounded.
Well, that’s probably not going to happen. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes they’re actual flukes, and sometimes they are a direct result of bad practicing.
If you’re a beginner, you have it especially difficult. Your technique is not consistent enough to play perfectly every time, and you probably have a few bad habits.
Perfect Guitar Technique
There is no such thing as perfect guitar technique.
One of the dangers of the massive amount of information online, including the classical guitar blog, is that people are often caught up in analysis paralysis. That is, you might not want to practice something because you’re afraid that you’ll use the wrong technique or make a poor choice.
What you should know, however, is that there’s no such thing as perfect guitar technique. Your technique and musicianship is constantly being shaped, changing with every piece, and moving towards a better, more efficient usage of your hands and brain.
Beginner Guitarists Make Mistakes
The truth of the matter is that beginner guitarists will make mistakes. They’ll develop bad habits that their guitar teacher, if they have one, will correct.
Over time, those mistakes, awkward movement patterns, and weird sense of phrasing will be shaped into a solid, but probably not perfect, technique. It’s a journey.
Move Forward, Not Sideways
If there’s one thing to learn from college music programs, it’s that undergraduate and graduate guitarists burn through repertoire like there’s no tomorrow. They grab pieces work on them for a while, then move on. Recital after recital has to be all new music, so a new program gets learned every year.
Contrast this with the average self-taught beginner: they probably have a few new things and a lot of old warhorses that they’ve been working on for months if not years.
Pieces that you learn early on will always have that bad technique built in. It’s muscle memory. Unless you give those pieces a rest and let your hands “forget” them, you’ll probably be using those bad habits forever. You’re not moving forward as a guitarist and a musician, you’re moving sideways. Not really getting better at the old pieces, but sort of getting more familiar with them.
Two Tips for Better Guitar Playing
First, work with a good guitar teacher in your area, or consider taking webcam guitar lessons. Beginners should work with a teacher in person. I don’t take absolute beginner guitarists, but I’m happy to help them find a teacher.
Second, don’t be afraid to move on before a piece is perfect. Move forward, not sideways. Sometimes a break from a piece for a few months (or years) is what it needs. That said, know when to stick with it. Sometimes what a piece really needs to become perfect is better practicing. How do you tell the difference? Ask your teacher. Experiment. Take notes. Be analytical about it, and see what happens. That’s the best way to learn.