What are YOUR guitar goals for 2014?

guitar-goalsWell, here we are – another year has come and gone, and everyone is older, wiser, and hopefully better guitar players than last year! I know speaking for myself, that I’ve improved on the guitar in the past year, although in different ways than I’d originally hoped to.

Last year I started out with the aim of getting into a more structured practice routine, for instance getting back into my scales again and doing some work with a metronome or a drum machine. That lasted about a week I think, and to be perfectly honest with you, that area of my playing is pretty much where it was a year ago.

On the other hand, one area that I have improved in is applying a little bit of theory to the fretboard to come up with new interval combinations all over the fretboard that I’ve never used before, and start working those into songs so they become a functional part of my playing. I’ll relate each one to specific chords and keys in my mind, so that I know when I’m playing in A for instance, I have a growing bag of tricks that I like to use in that key.

I’ve been inspired by watching some great players, and each time I watched one, I tried to take just one general idea home that I could apply to my playing. Often when you see someone play at such a high level, 99% of the intricacies of what they’re doing are going to go straight over your head, but if you can pay close enough attention to at least grab a clue you can use… then you’re onto something, and you can start working that over on your own.

So that’s what I’ve been up to… what about you?

More to the point – what are YOUR guitar goals for 2014? What are your biggest challenges that you want to overcome this year? Your biggest hurdle… your biggest fear…

Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below – we might not get exactly where we want to this year, but as long as we’re moving forward, and in the right direction, then that’s good, in my books.

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  1. Well, I’ll begin this with a Happy New Year! What a great tool for both of us–you for accountability and us for learning and encouragement. Thank you!

    I am a beginner on the guitar–picking and poking at it, but my goal is to enjoy for myself. My thoughts and goals are;

    1) I am learning to read music.
    2: I am learning to play chords–what chords are best to learn initially–which ones will I use most? I purchased a book and it has (seems like) thousands of chords of which I need three more fingers on each hand to accomplish the chord.
    3) My biggest frustration seems to be in finding my “style”–why–how do I discover it?
    4) When strumming, how many strumming patterns are there and how do I know which ones to use?
    5) Do I need to understand music theory right now–if so, why?

    Answers to these will keep me in homework for quite a while and catch up to come close to being respectable. I will go thru your lessons and should have some of these questions addressed.

    Thank you so very much again for your love and patience for teaching.

    1. Hi Esther, I’m a beginner too (even though I’ve been playing for 13 years). I always played the strum which felt the most natural with the song, or I played arpeggio (I used the terminology of 6 count or 4 count for the basic arpeggio), some times I would alter the order of how I would pick it out. Your style would be what do you enjoy the most. As you learn more it will grow and change. Get into the I, IV, V Theory. It’s eye opening and helps all the other lessons that Jonathan or Collin have make more sense. The DVD are very educational! Good Luck, and Play On.

      1. Thanks Wendy for your response–I will definitely go to the I, IV, V theory. It is a start, which is a must in all things, and it is more than what I had before. Onward! Thanks and blessings

  2. Happy New year!!! For myself I want to learn the scales and modes better and also to learn the notes in the scales even if I have to get to the point of saying them as I play. I think most of all I need to find my own rhythm so to speak while playing scales, Ive watched video of other different artist be it blues, jazz, rock, metal and ect, and just watch them thinking to myself “man that how I want to play!!!” But somehow cant find my own rhythm to get there. I just watched unlocking I IV V again and I like the way it shows you how to build scales based on the root note, that video should be in everyones collection regardless of how long you have been playing, its well worth money I spent. With that said, my goal is to simply know what im doing on the fretboard to better understand what im playing. I hope this gives a little insite to others in the same situation.

    1. Hi BB, stop beating yourself up. It’ll come. Work on accuracy of finger placements slowly. The speed will come sooner than you think.

  3. I think the biggest thing I need to work on is not bouncing around so much when practicing. Practice one thing at a time. Be it scales, strumming patterns, chord changes, etc. Another thing that I think will really help is to take lessons a couple times a month. I love what you have put in your lessons and dvd’s, but I think a person really needs the feedback from a teacher. Stop you from doing something wrong. Correct technique earlier on. And give positive reinforcement when you do learn something. (And yes, I will still practice along to your dvd’s. I’ve learned a lot from them.)

  4. Well I would like to bring my strumming in line with my chords changes. I practice this daily with learning more theory as a daily routine. I know my barre chords but need to play the 7 chords n sus chords more. over all I will get alot better this year no doubt in my mind. Also I myself will be picking up a copy of 1 4 5 to add to my collection of knowledge.

  5. Happy New Year!

    I have been trying to “learn” guitar for over 30 years now, but have not mastered the discipline of practice. I have tons of DVDs, books, online tutorials – all of which have proven valuable by imparting pieces of the mystery of guitar playing.

    I need to settle down and start from scratch, with a purpose/goal in mind.

    I’m over 60 years old, and one of my “bucket list” items is to learn how to play guitar before I move on. I’m determined to finish this race….

    1. Good decision, Dan! I took up the guitar back in 2000. Now at 62 I’m having the time of my life learning more and more songs. Play at community gatherings at the Eagles after Karoake is done (but I’m not), or just playing in my room by myself. I break out the old hymns and go to sleep very calm. Think how good you’re going to be in 10, 20, 30 or more years. I also believe that music is good for keeping the brain sharp.

  6. I too have neglected the metronome but I made good progress with scales and bar chords. I have set the goal of giving a “recital” to my wife and few friends of Ibanez’ “Asturias-Leyenda” in July of this year. A tall order but I see two gains: a necessarily structured and strongly disciplined set of practices and two, giving me some insight to this genre of music which I dearly love.

  7. Hey Jonathan, Happy New Year. I enjoyed the Free 3-day lessons from Riff Ninja so much that I signed up for the years worth of lessons for $130.00. Great price; couldn’t resist. Listening to you and Colin Daniel doing the Finger Exercises for Dexterity & Speed was very inspiring. I do feel that an hour a day isn’t enough for me. I want it faster. But what does puzzle me is whether it’s really acceptable technique for my left hand to rock for the pinky to get right up to the fret. I can keep my hand pretty steady and not loose my finger positions with fingers 1,2,3, but 4 that’s a bit on a stretch. I’ve been told that for a woman I have large hands, not unsightly, but larger than most. So is the rocking okay?

    1. Hi Wendy – can you describe what you mean by “left hand rocking” a little more? In general, everyone’s hands are going to work with the fretboard a little differently; as long as you’re not finding it unduly uncomfortable or painful to play that way, then chances are you’re going to be okay. The real problems are when people force themselves to play in a way that their particular bodies don’t really like – then you end up with injuries and the like. If you’re referring to rocking as in needing to bend your wrist a little further to get the pinky in on the action, then perhaps you might try working on some of those dexterity exercises you mentioned, for a few weeks, and see if that doesn’t help things improve somewhat.

  8. I have played open, 3-chord progression for years. But I want to learn blues. And more, I want to learn the licks, the transitions, the spontaneous leads when just noodling around with others. To that goal I have signed up for some classes and just received my J600 Washburn that I have been drooling over for awhile. So, I am on my way. I just want to expand my skill from what I call beginner, to someone that others want to play with!

  9. Hi Jonathan, I just starting the exercise for Dexterity and Strength today. I think it’s going to be okay. My fingers just aren’t used to the movement yet. Like you said before it just takes patience and time, but I’ll get there. It just seemed like I can’t get my pinky to hit the strings squarely, but more to the side of the finger. I’ll work on it, see if it doesn’t loosen up a bit. I probably just want this so much I’m giving myself anxieties over it. Thank for getting back to me so soon. I appreciate it. Wendy

  10. Hi, well I have been playing for a year now. I’m doing ok, my biggest problem is figuring out the strumming patterns!! Right now I’m working on Drift Away and I can’t find any video that shows the strum pattern for that song. Can you help me out with that. I would really appreciate it.
    Thanks Rebecca

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