"I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it." -Jimmy Page

Playing the guitar is a creative outlet that lets passionate people express themselves and create unique art. When playing a musical instrument that you love, such as the guitar, it doesn't matter if you don't play the sounds and techniques perfectly, an essential part is to have fun and feel the rhythm.

Although playing for yourself and in front of a few friends does not require any specific training, and you can be self-taught, many enthusiastic guitar learners want to be professionally trained. How's that? By spending time acquiring helpful information to hone their skills and prepare for structured guitar exams like the one from the ABRSM.

Therefore, without any further delay, in today's article, we shall consider six tips and tricks about how interested learners can acquire valuable knowledge to pass their guitar exams. If you follow the advice that you read today, you will move ahead with flying colours and grasp practical advice to go from beginner to advanced in no time!

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practice getting a feel of the guitar strings, learning the chords, scales, and arpeggios, the more you will feel comfortable playing in front of other people.

Don't you know, practice makes perfect?

Try to dedicate time every day to practice new pieces, play your favourite songs, and hear what new scales sound like.

keyboard and guitar
Learning to play the guitar means you're one step closer to starting a band! (Source: Unsplash)

It is essential to state that the most qualified guitarists all suggest the same thing: practice is everything. Practising frequently seems like quite an obvious tip; nonetheless, you'd be surprised to know that many beginners neglect the fact that they should take action every day to acquire new guitar concepts. And, when preparing for guitar exams from the ABRSM, the last thing you want to do is fall behind.

Therefore, recognise the reality that learning a musical instrument such as the guitar requires continuous practice; and even more so when you are a beginner. So, suck it up, get cracking, and set aside time every day to master the art of guitar playing!

Use the Correct Fingering

handing my hand
The correct fingering from the right hand is indispensable when learning the guitar. (Source: Unsplash)

Knowing when and where to place your fingers is extremely important when playing the guitar. From the beginning it is crucial to set goals that harness good habits and ensure that the write fingers are being used to play specific notes on the fretboard; when corrected later on it becomes more difficult to remember.

To guarantee that you are using the correct fingering, consult a guitar chord diagram that highlights the accurate left and right-hand fingering. For instance, when using your left hand, the index finger should be touching the C major chord.

Nonetheless, although there are many helpful resources created to assure the correct fingering of both hands when playing the guitar, occasionally there are some players who encounter a more accessible way that works for them. Think of the Phoebe Buffay method in the hit show Friends, "Old lady hand"!

When learning to play new scales, remember to pay close attention to the correct fingering of a chord and your hand's position on the fretboard for scales.

To know precisely how to position your fingers from the beginning, consider hiring the expertise of a tutor, seek the assistance of an online app, or call a more experienced friend. Why? Knowing the correct fingering requires effort, yet it is essential to play well and ace impending grade exams conducted by the ABRSM.

Use a Metronome

What exactly is a metronome? 

Well, if you are not a music enthusiast and are not caught up with all the terms, functions, and instruments used, the metronome is an audible device that produces a click that is audible at a regular interval that can be adjusted by the user. A metronome is usually programmed to help new musicians develop rhythm and is set to beats per minute.

Metronomes are a godsend for beginner musicians who are looking to improve the way they acquire new pieces, whether on the guitar, the piano, or the drums. 

If you think the little clicking sound is annoying, you're not alone since beginners usually stop using a metronome after only a few practice sessions for that very reason. Nonetheless, we highly recommend that amateur guitarists stick with using a metronome since it will significantly improve rhythm and timing from the beginning.

Don't feel stressed when hearing the clicks; they are there to help you get used to playing in time and at a steady tempo, not rush you through new pieces without accurately acquiring them.

Are you having a hard time buying a new metronome? Don't worry about it! Now, more than ever, there are various metronome apps available for download on the App and Google Play Stores. The following is a list of recommended metronome apps from the pros at Bulletproof Musician:

  • Metronome Plus,
  • Tempo, 
  • Time Guru. 

Trust us, using a metronome while playing the guitar will drastically improve your performance. Remember, rhythm is vital when playing a musical instrument, and the guitar is no exception; think of how great Jimi Hendrix was!

Get to Know Your Scales and Arpeggios From the Beginning

The ABRSM evaluates certain aspects on all of their Practical Guitar exams, one to eight. Such as? The ability to learn three pieces per grade, aural tests, sight-reading, and? The ability to master new scales and arpeggios.

Therefore, to ensure success during the end of grade exams, guitar enthusiasts are wise to set aside time every practice session to hone the necessary scales and arpeggios. Also, it is essential to state that as ABRSM guitar grades go up from beginner to advanced, the number of plates and arpeggios rise but so make their overall difficulty.

But, remember, to be a better guitarist, you mustn't shy away from difficult chords; complex scales might be your friend and not foe! 

Before concluding this section, we think that it is essential to state that by listening to Youtube videos of experienced guitarists playing the scales and arpeggios you are learning much helps to acquire a more accurate understanding. The following list features some Youtube channels of professionally trained guitarists teaching beginners more about scales and arpeggios:

  • JamPlay, 
  • Guitar Jamz, 
  • Justin Guitar. 

By heeding the advice of the previously mentioned Youtube channels, your scales and arpeggios knowledge on the guitar will be golden!

Set Goals and Track Progress

objectives and goals
Having realistic goals when learning a new instrument makes the whole process worthwhile. (Source: Unsplash)

"You should set goals beyond your reach so you always have something to live for." -Ted Turner

All of the world's most successful people have goals to keep their aspirations and motivations high. Without a concrete plan, something that you want to do is simply a dream.

When learning a new instrument such as the guitar, it is highly recommended to set goals that are attainable and reasonable. Music-based plans help guitar enthusiasts remember why they are acquiring the basics of the guitar and how their knowledge can aid them towards passing grades with the ABRSM. The following are some reasonable goals to set when beginning to learn the guitar:

  • Practice 45 minutes every day,
  • Master a new song or new piece once a week,
  • Go over scales and arpeggios that you are struggling with,
  • Memorise a new song,
  • Take lessons.

Not only will the previously mentioned goals greatly facilitate the learning experience, but also tracking your progress can increase motivation. How can that be done? By keeping a log or diary of the things, you have learnt on a specific date; this will contribute to future improvement.

After a few months, we recommend looking back on your progress log to motivate yourself to continue learning more!

Fancy skipping a grade or two in guitar exams? Click this link to find out how it can be done!

Hire a Professional Guitar Tutor

Of all tips and tricks and pieces of advice that you will hear, hiring a professional tutor is among the best. Why? Simple, those who are learning with the guidance of an experienced tutor fare far better than those who do not.

The following are some advantages of hiring a guitar tutor to ensure success on the ABRSM exams:

  • The technique is improved, 
  • Posture is corrected, 
  • Invaluable tips and tricks are imparted, 
  • Personalised attention, 
  • Someone to listen to and critique your performance skills. 

But where does one find a guitar tutor to hone skills and include performance before an impending ABRSM exam? The answer should always be the same: Superprof!

With more than 12 million tutors around the world teaching over 1000 topics, the Superprof community has become a giant in the education/tutoring industry. Superprof tutors are experienced, engaging, and affordable. Also, since the guitar is a popular instrument to learn, there are plenty of qualified tutors around the UK that offer online lessons at a time most convenient for you.

In conclusion, we sure hope that the advice in today's article will guide ABRSM guitar exam candidates to success on their assessments; godspeed!

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