PHIL KEAGGY - Grammy nominated and seven-time Dove Award winner, is one of the world’s great guitar players and a pioneer in contemporary Christian music.
- April 17, 2017
Assuming you’re well on your journey as a guitarist, you already know the value of playing every single day. For some, their occupation is just a means of income and family support. That’s wonderful! You may be a guitarist who works a 9 to 5 but finds time to play at least an hour before you go to work or sleep. You don’t have to be a professional guitarist earning income to be a good player. Whatever you do for a living, you still need a daily routine to continue growing and keep the music you’ve learned fresh. However, if you are a professional guitarist and you earn your living that way, it doesn’t mean you need to “get a real job” either. Just because you earn a living doing something you absolutely love doesn’t mean you're not doing work. People shouldn’t judge until they walk a mile in your shoes. You should play the guitar daily because you just simply love guitar.
Play the Guitar Because It's Your Gift or Calling
Without over spiritualizing the topic, maybe you were simply born to be a great musician. Playing music skillfully is a gift. Just because you play five hours a day doesn’t mean you’re gifted; there’s a difference. A person who is gifted can play and those around them will be moved emotionally or in awe of their talent. Another person can play for five hours and not play a single note that carries the same weight. You should play the guitar daily because it’s your gift and you shouldn’t let a day go by that your aren’t improving and devoting time to your craft. Play every day like it’s your last. Be creative and write music that moves people. The more time you spend with the instrument, the more fluid you’ll become and the best stuff will rise up as you reach deeper and deeper. When you stop thinking and start being one with the guitar, you’ll become renown for your work.
The Guitar Isn’t Going to Play Itself
You want to get better right? Discipline is an ugly word. Practice isn’t too fun either. That’s where the work comes in. Who are you? What do you want? That guitar doesn’t make a sound unless you pick it up and play it. The great Chet Atkins is said to have been playing in a music store when a lady stopped and said, “That guitar sounds great!” Chet stopped playing and set the guitar down and exclaimed, “How does it sound now?” Perhaps a little too harsh of a response and who knows if it’s actually true? Chet was right either way. You'll have to get lots of playing time in before you start to sound like a real musician. People know the difference.
Playing great guitar comes with a price. Sure, you can learn four chords and play with anger through a loud amp. If you’ve got the right skinny jeans, hair, and glasses, you just might get a record deal, but if you want to be remembered as a great guitarist, you still have to put in the time. You only get as much out of your guitar as you put into it.
You're Gonna Need Those Calluses
You can use all the super glue you want on those fingertips but an hour a day on the guitar will keep your calluses nice and hard. If you only play every few days, you’re going to be very frustrated as the calluses on your chording hand will peel off after a day or two of showering. Then you’ll have to start over and play for a good week to get them toughened up again. Playing just an hour a day will keep them ready to play for hours.
If you’re new to guitar, the strings will create these calluses on your chording hand fingertips. Once you have them, you won’t notice the strings hurting your fingers as much and you can sit and play guitar as long as you like without any pain. The more you play, the thicker the calluses will become. Great guitarists know how important this is. It’s one of the reasons you’ll see so many guitars on the backs of people in the airport or anywhere really. Can’t let a day or two pass without playing or you’ll be starting over and have to endure that process again.
Muscle Memory Is Important
When you play the guitar daily, your hand muscles and arms learn the motions and distances on the fretboard. When you’ve played a lot, you stop thinking and starting playing correctly. You may learn a very involved musical piece, but if you don’t play it daily or often, you may lose the muscle memory to pull it off. This will sting you at some point. You’ll decide to play some tune on the fly or the band will call up an older piece and you’ll dive right into a pool with no water. Your face will look as bad as your fingers sound. If only you’d taken the time run through it a dozen times during the week, you wouldn’t be standing there embarrassed. You might say, “Man, I’m just not that committed.” Ok, but that’s the difference between the guy who makes $75 for playing three hours on Friday night and the guy who makes $350 for a 90 minute set with a known artist. You decide which guy you want to be.
It’s Who You Are
If you’re a guitarist by profession, you’re going to fill your day with ways to make enough money to do what you love. If you’re a great guitarist, you may get up in the morning and write songs for a couple hours. Then you may work on demos in your home studio for a client or two or maybe you run to a studio and play on a session for three hours. In the afternoon when school lets out, you may teach guitar for a couple hours for extra income. On the weekends you may go out on the road with your band or some other artist. When you add it all up, maybe you make $3500-$5000 a month give or take. It’s not six figures, but you take care of business and you’re doing what you love. Who knows, you might make more than your dad made at the factory for 30 years. It’s possible. Be yourself. Do what you do and if it provides, who cares what anyone else thinks? Play the guitar every day because it’s who you are.
One way to make sure you play the guitar daily is to enroll in some online guitar lessons that will keep you honest. At Pro Lessons, we’d love to be a resource for your online guitar needs. Our instructors have learned a few things from playing in many of today’s popular bands and they want to pass along their knowledge to you. Find out more about our affordable rates by clicking below.