Do you struggle with being creative in your guitar playing? Do you think that musical creativity is something that only a few gifted people possess and it cannot be developed by anyone else? Most guitarists will answer “yes” to these questions…and I used to be among them…years ago. Musical creativity did not come easily to me at all at first and I used to think that I did not have what it takes to become a great musician.
After finally mastering creativity in my own music and teaching thousands of students to do the same, I found that there are a number of reasons why it’s hard for most guitarists to be creative on their instrument. I also discovered that musical creativity can be developed by anyone using the right tools and an effective process for reaching this goal in your guitar playing.
Top reasons why you aren’t more musically creative right now:
1. You lack specific guitar playing and musical skills that will “enable” you to be creative. I discussed this topic at length in this article about musical creativity and expression. Fact is, musical creativity is not a “skill” - it is a RESULT of having mastered skills and techniques that enable you to creatively communicate through your guitar playing. Without these skills, you become like a stranger in a foreign country without knowing its language and customs. It doesn’t matter how many emotions/thoughts/feelings you want to communicate - your lack of language mastery will make it impossible for you to communicate fluently and accurately.
2. You are “waiting” for creativity to “strike” you, instead of actively “practicing” being creative and letting inspiration flow freely (more on this below).
3. You neglect to store, refine and utilize inspirational ideas that you DO get on a regular basis. We all sometimes have moments when inspirational ideas strike us from nowhere - it could be a little melody, a lick, or maybe an entire song. The problem is that (most of the time) you are simply not paying attention to these ideas. Even WORSE, you often forget ideas that come to you, because you weren’t prepared to capture them. Sound familiar?
To overcome these problems, you need 2 things:
The very best guitar lessons with a proven guitar teacher that will give you the skills to easily and accurately express any musical idea/thought/emotion you want to convey on your guitar.
- A systematic process for maximizing, shaping and refining the flow of creative ideas you ALREADY get on a regular basis. This is one of MANY things you can do to practice away from your guitar and maximize your musical creativity in the process.
Brainstorm Process For Unstoppable Flow Of Musical Ideas
Step One: Getting Ready To Capture Your Inspiration
Inspiration doesn’t make appointments, so you must be ready at any time to capture ideas when they come to you. This is critical, because when you lose a single idea, it’s very hard to get it back again. Ideas may come to you in the form of a melody, a drum beat, a chord progression, an idea for an arrangement of a song, a vocal lyric, or simply as a strong “emotion” that you want to convey. To make sure you never waste moments of musical inspiration, have a pen and paper (or a voice recorder) close to you at all times, even if you can’t always be near a guitar.
Step Two: Setting Up Your Mind For Increased Creative Awareness
Ever notice when you start driving a certain make/model of a car, that you suddenly become aware of MANY other cars just like yours on the road? These cars were always driven around you, but your brain didn’t pay attention to them until they became relevant and interesting to you.
You can make this phenomenon work FOR your musical creativity by commanding your brain to look for very SPECIFIC musical ideas...rather than “general” sparks of musical inspiration. It can start as simply as changing the way you listen to your favorite songs. Instead of passively “listening” to music, “command” your brain to look for a certain type of musical idea that you never noticed before. For example, look for creative elements in just one instrument at a time (e.g. drums), mentally tuning out all other instruments/parts. Try to notice something unusual specifically about the drum part that you never noticed before. Alternatively, focus on a specific emotion, thought or feeling you want to express in your music and look for ways this specific emotion is being conveyed in the music of others.
As you keep doing this, you will find MANY new ideas that were ALWAYS around you, but you only noticed them after you commanded your brain to become aware of them in a specific way.
Step Three: Capture Everything That Comes To Your Mind
Aim for quantity over quality at first- the more ideas you collect, the better. There will be time to refine ideas into perfection later. For now, collect as many raw ideas as you can.
Hold Back Criticism- Forget about judging if an idea is good or bad, or even if it’s an original idea vs. borrowed from someone else’s music.
Welcome Unusual Ideas- Keep an open mind and do not reject any idea in this step, no matter how weird or unusual it seems.
Step Four: Translate Your Musical Creativity Into ACTUAL Music
Now that you have compiled a large list of raw ideas, it’s time to organize and translate them into actual music (guitar solos, improvisations and songs) on your instrument. To do this, you will rely on you mastery of aural skills, music theory, guitar technique and your ability to integrate your musical skills together via songwriting techniques.
The better your guitar/musical skills are, the more accurately you will be able to convey your original idea into the final musical result.
Now that you understand the 2-part process to use for maximizing your musical creativity, begin working on both sides of the “creativity equation”:
1. Learn how to find the right guitar teacher for you, to maximize your potential to be creative as a musician in the fastest way possible.
2. Start going through the process described in this article on a regular basis to train yourself to come up with endless flow of inspirational ideas at will.
As you do this consistently, your creativity as a musician will reach the level that other musicians will only dream about.
Learn a whole lot more about musical creativity in this free video about playing guitar with feeling.