4 Ways to Improve Your Guitar Playing (without a guitar)
Time to put the guitar down for this video. I’m going to show you four ways that you can improve your guitar playing even without a guitar in your hands. Okay, so number one, apps! I want you to get on some apps, there’s some great apps, and specifically I want you to get on some interval training apps. Interval training is extremely underrated and really will help your ear, help you identify notes, songs, tabs.
Let’s be honest, no tab is perfect. And so this will really help you to take maybe some lesser than amazing tabs and use your ear with some of the interval training to just get those results even quicker. It also just has all kinds of tremendous benefits. Get apps, not just for intervals. You can always do theory as well, which by the way, transitions nicely into number two.
The number two way to improve your guitar skills without a guitar is to actually get into the theory. I know theory is not fun, but I’m telling you right now, I resisted theory for years and I totally regret it because once I learned it (and it was hard for me by the way), but once I finally like had that “aha, oh, I get it,” I instantly became band leader in my bands. I became song leader, I became a better songwriter. Everything improved, everything leveled up. And then of course, as a teacher it made me almost bulletproof in helping great students just like you. And I really understood concepts well. I was able to steal things and song ideas and all these little cool moves because I understood the foundations, which is where 80% of your results will come from. So that’s a long way of saying, here’s what you need to do. I want you to memorize a new key every single week. That’s it. One key a week, there’s a total of 12 keys. So in 12 weeks’ time, three months, you’re done, right? You’re going to be bulletproof I’m telling you.
So check this out. The way I recommend it is usually with my students, this is a cool little extra secret for you guys, a bonus tip, if you will, is the circle of fifths. I typically like to use this and I don’t really use it in a conventional way. I just say, look at the circle of fifths. On the top of that, is the key of C at midnight. I want you to memorize the key of C. The notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B. I’ll see you next week, right? Every day I want you to set a timer at noon or one or 10 or whatever you want EVERY SINGLE DAY. I want you to have that thing go off. And then what you have to do is you sit, you have to run through the key of C 10 times in your head, no guitar, C, D, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B. And they even visualize those notes, visualize the letters themselves that we’re really helped to cement that key, and then do that every single day for seven days. And then on that seventh day, we’re going to add a key. The next one is going to be the key of G, right? Going in the order of fifths. And then once you memorize the key of G, do the same thing. Go through C 10 times, go through G 10 times right now we’re stacking. And then keep on going every single week until you’re doing 12 keys. I know it’s a lot, but I’m telling you this is going to make you so bulletproof and everything make more sense. Whenever you truly know the 12 keys as well as it’s going to give you a confidence in terms of a songwriter, a band leader, a musician, a guitar player, you’re really going to have an extremely good layer.
And of course, you may forget some of these things after a while. All good, Don’t worry about that. But it’s going to slip through the cracks much less than I would say, 99% of musicians, even professionals, don’t know all 12 keys. Okay, so it’s going to make you a cut above and you don’t need the guitar to do it.
So the third way that you can level up your guitar skills without a guitar is to learn another instrument. Learn piano, learn drums, learn something else! So if you’re going to learn, say for instance, piano, which is a first instrument that I started with, it’s actually ideal for learning theory, for learning chord theory, learning major scales, just like as I was talking about, it’s going to really seal your foundations and your fundamentals.
Like I said before, it’s where most of your results will come from. You can’t really get away with playing piano the same way you can with a guitar. With a guitar, you can memorize some shapes, some little patterns, and you can kind of move them and get away with murder, right? You can kind of just show off without really knowing much, right? Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it, we’ve all been there and maybe you’re still there, but piano will really force your hand to really know some stuff. And it might even teach you sightreading. Heck, it might even give you a new appreciation for the piano and you might be able to write more with it, write better songs with it, or different kinds of songs, which is what I use the piano for personally is I just write and compose completely differently.
So it’s a nice refresher if I’m feeling like I’m in a rut. So anyways, piano and drums, let’s just say you wanted to learn drums. I Highly recommend that that’ll really seal your tempo control, which is extremely underrated. I would say one of the most underrated assets of a musician is their tempo control. Sure, the drummer is in charge of that. He’s, he’s the band leader in terms of the tempo. But as a guitar player, you should be really strong in your tempo control as well. There’s plenty of songs in my band’s set where I start and if my tempo’s all over and everywhere, they’re going to be like, “Hey man, what’s going on?” I’m going to throw the whole band in disarray and then it’s going to just be a little sloppy of a start. Now because I’ve practiced two a click and two a tempo and I’ve had some drum training, which makes me do tempo work as well, it really helps me a lot and it’s just really made me a very even kind of clock.
Is my tempo control perfect? No, but I have a really great foundation because I’ve learned some drums. It also will help if you learn drums, for instance, to unlock certain things that you wouldn’t even thought about and rhythm ideas. And let’s be honest, it just helps you with 1, 2, 3, 4, and kind of understanding all of those nuances of rhythm itself, which is what drums is focused on. So it might fill, fill in some gaps you don’t even know you had. Now I can keep going on about other instruments. You should definitely learn as many as you can. I would say don’t spread yourself so thin in trying to learn 50 instruments. Really focus on guitar if that’s your thing, which is my thing, but dabble a little bit and you’d be surprised at so many little blind spots that you didn’t know you had. So that’s tip number three. Learn other instruments.
Okay, so in the final and fourth way in which you can level up your playing without a guitar is by watching live videos and/or live demonstrations of complete professionals on YouTube. In fact, I’ve got a video, I’ll link it right now of me kind of running through some Zeppelin riffs, watch and kind of notice little nuances of how I’m holding the guitar, how loose my wrist is, what’s happening with the finger positions, how I’m fretting, where I’m fretting, how hard I’m fretting, am I bending here? Am I bending down? These tiny nuances you’re not going to pick up if you’re not really watching other guitar players. It’s very important. In fact, when I was in high school, I was in basketball. Now I’m not a good athlete at all. Never really was. I was always there, you know, never a starter, that’s for sure. But what I did learn is I was in basketball and I was mediocre at best. And I, I practiced, you know, I would shoot hoops, I would dribble and practice all the basics. But it wasn’t until my coach had had a talk with me and said, “Do you watch basketball?” And I said, “No, I’ve actually never really watched a game in my life.” And he’s like, “Well, I can tell. And, and I want you to because I think it’s going to help to kind of make sense of, you have skills, you have some good talent, Andrew, but I want you to watch the basketball so you can see how to put those pieces together.”
And at the time I was kind of like in shock. I was like, “Wow. He called me out and he was completely right. He completely nailed it.” I had all these pieces and because I hadn’t really watched a game, like really watched the game, not just like casually like, you know, eating some popcorn, being distracted with your friends, but really watched the game, how things are done when they pass, when they shoot, with all these little tiny nuances and how it all comes together. When I saw that, I instantly leveled up as a, as a basketball player, I’m still no good of a basketball player. But the point is, is even with guitar, I took that same principle when I started really watching, not just casually, but really watching the guitar players or even all the musicians, how they function, how they communicate, eye contact, who’s really in charge, who’s doing this, who’s calling that? And you know, let’s be honest and some of the fun stuff, I’ll watch some bands perform and as a performer myself, I’d steal these little tricks of crowd participation and how to really, you know, get the guy in the back of the room who’s sitting down and kind of bummed out to get him excited and get him involved.
I’ve learned a lot of tricks as a showman, as a guitar player and all kinds of ways that I don’t even probably know all, I’m not even aware of all the ways that I’ve improved just by watching videos of live concerts and of course just YouTube All stars demonstrating maybe a line or maybe there was a tricky Red Hot Chili Peppers line. This actually just literally happened where I’m like, “Ah, I just want to see if someone do it real quick. Just make sure I’m on track.”
Even though I’m a complete professional teacher and player, I still will doubt myself. I’m like, well this is a weird part and I’ll watch somebody else and maybe I’ll watch a couple videos and compare and maybe I’ll just pick some of the pieces of what I really like. Typically, I’m already pretty much on point on what I’m doing, but if it’s a weird part, I might doubt myself. And that video will really help to give me some clarity. I’m always learning, always a student.
I hope you guys got a lot out of this video. If you guys want one-on-one lessons, let me know. And if you guys want any kind of video, a specific video that’s going to help and benefit you’re playing, I would love to get that video done for you. Feel free to comment below. I’m very active, I respond to comments. I love what I do. I love teaching. It’s not work for me. It’s literally something I’m very passionate about and I hope this helped you guys. I’ll see you in the next video!