Posted by: Glenelg Guitar Studio | January 27, 2020

One small step. One giant leap.

Some times a small step in guitar lessons can be a giant leap for students. I was reminded of this recently by 2 students in our lessons. One young, one old and they were both having the same concerns.



Learning the guitar takes lots of practice and concentration and then there’s the next step………

Playing with someone.

Yes it’s a big step in your learning but one that is absolutely essential to master. Students find it hard enough to concentrate on technique, read the music without having someone playing at the same time, but it’s the basis of most guitar performance so it’s just another step in learning and often a giant leap.

In modern guitar it’s the combination of melody and chords and in classical it’s likely the 2 pieces of solo and accompaniment.

So how do we learn this skill ? Just like every other skill we learn, it comes down to understanding and practice. In modern pieces we must learn/understand both parts before they can come together. You may start by learning the melody then the chords so that you are comfortable with both. The fun begins when you bring the piece together with another guitarist.

Here’s a video I made with modern guitar student Ian. It’s “All I have to do is Dream” from the Hal Leonard More Easy Pop Melodies book. A great way to make that leap to playing with another guitarist.

Ideas for making this step/leap are various but I think the easiest is to learn to play the melody to a backing track of the chords. Either slow down the music or have it recorded at a slower pace and that way you can concentrate on getting it correct one bar at a time.

It’s very useful to break up the piece into sections, playing the melody and then the chords. You might play the whole piece as a melody first then switch to chords to repeat and then break it into smaller parts for the switch depending on the piece.

When you have the melody and chords learned and practiced the next step is to go live. That means we need to start playing the piece as a duet in lessons. Start slow and work up to an easy speed as this step can sometimes be a bit of a leap. Some students concentrate on keeping their timing by initially counting out aloud which helps them concentrate on their part and not get drawn into waiting for a lead from the other player.

Each student may have their own special way of making this leap but all contain the elements of understanding the piece and practice. I encourage students to make recordings in lessons so that they can be used later in practice sessions.

I suspect some of you may find this step a challenge, but mastering it will mean a real leap in your learning and enjoyment of guitar.





  1. Nice. Well done. (Leigh, you are improving)

    • I like your sense of humour Bob.
      See you Wednesday.

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