Plugging in your guitar is a no-brainer. You're smart, so there's no need to tell you something you don't already know. This post is a general primer for beginners who are just getting started.
First, it's best that you start by checking your amp to make sure the volume is turned down. Bad things can happen if your amp is turned up when you kick it on. By bad, I mean loud, destructive noise which can in some cases damage your speakers. If you are plugging in an electric guitar, you could also make sure it is turned down as well, just to be safe.
Next, inspect the cable you are going to use. If the ends of the cable have screw-on type connectors, make sure they are tight on both ends before you plug in. You should also check that there are no bent or broken connectors, frayed sections, or exposed wiring along the cable that will cause feedback or other electrical disasters.
After you have checked the cable, plug it into the guitar or the amp, ensuring a complete connection. You will often hear an audible "click" letting you know the connection is solid. Then plug the other end of the cable into the amp or guitar, whichever remains.
Now, go ahead and turn on the amp, and bring up the volume some. If you have levels 1-10 on the dial, try 2 or 3. If your guitar has a volume knob, now is the time to turn it up. Strum a few chords or play some licks and adjust as needed.
Following these steps can save you a lot of grief and possibly a lot of money.
Three Bad Habits To Avoid
Musicians of all levels are often prone to developing bad habits. These can be devastating on our progress, as many bad habits become second-nature when done continually and on a regular basis. In order to get the most out of your lessons, learn to tackle these problems directly during your daily practice sessions.
1. Avoiding Technique
Much of the music we learn requires technical skills that need to be learned properly so that we can perform pieces with as little difficulty as possible. It is tempting to continue to practice music in ways that have become familiar or easy, thus bypassing the task of learning a new skill. When your instructor asks you to play a piece in a certain way, it is probably for a good reason. Be sure to pay close attention to any peculiarities specific to the music you are practicing.
2. Not Practicing Assignments
Always practice the pieces your instructor asks you to practice, and be sure to practice all your music during each practice session. Sometimes we get pressed for time, or forget, or just don't want to make the commitment each day, but we can't allow ourselves to fall into this mindset. Don't spend all your practice time on a piece you like when you have other music to practice as well. If you do, you will only hinder your growth and it may take a much longer time to learn the music you are assigned.
3. Giving Excuses
Try not to be a person who brings excuses to your instructor at lesson time. Everyone knows that we all will have circumstances that interrupt our practice time. Make sure to get all your practicing in, even when it means giving up something else to do so (like television for example). If something does prevent you from practicing, be sure to get your practice time in as soon as possible so you don't forget to do it. If you are always giving excuses for not practicing, you are only preventing yourself from making real progress as a musician. If you feel like your instructor is asking too much, then it is best to mention that at your next lesson so you can discuss your progress and create a strategy that will allow you to get the most out of your practices.
Can you think of any excuses you've given to your instructor (or to yourself) lately? Please share your bad habits and how you handled them below.
Habit Resolutions for the New Year
It's that time of year. That's right - resolutions! Do you remember the last ones you made? Me either.
Most students will probably say that they need to practice more, and that's not a bad resolution to make. Just remember that by forming good practice habits, the quality of practices will become much better. Has your teacher asked you to do something over and over? Maybe you should put it on the list. Is there something you want to get better at? Add that, too.
Here are a few examples you might add to your list of New Year's Resolutions:
You see, a list is a good thing to have because it helps organize our thoughts. The next step is to act on it, and make those resolutions happen.
Whatever you decide to put on your list this year, be sure that your goals are realistic. Start small. Be determined to do the best you can to succeed. Strive for excellence in your music.
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