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Guitarist reading music on bench

4 More Things You Need to Learn Classical Guitar

A while back I wrote a series of articles on “5 Things You Need to Learn Classical & Fingerstyle Guitar.” You can read those posts if you would like by clicking on the links. The five things on my list are a guitar, a guitar support or footstool, a method book, a metronome, and a good teacher. However, that is just the beginning. You will need a few more things along the way for your classical guitar journey. These little tools we normally do not think about but will make a big difference in achieving your musical goals.

Guitarist reading music on bench

A Pencil

Yes, seriously. A pencil with an eraser is an essential tool for your development. Let’s face it, we can’t remember everything. Especially in a lesson. The instructor is rambling off all these great truths to incorporate into your playing. Unfortunately, you miss half of them for lack of taking notes. I highly recommend that you take notes during a lesson, video, or even out-of-method book. You can use a highlighter in the method book. It is also okay to write in your book. A pencil cannot only be used to take notes but to write down questions during the week. You will use it to mark tempos, dynamics, crescendos, decrescendos, and other articulations. The pencil is an indispensable tool when it comes to developing interpretation as well.

Now mark this. When I say a pencil, I do mean a pencil. One with an eraser (or at least an eraser nearby). Not a pen. Unless it’s an erasable pen. Do they still make those? I digress...

A Plan of Action

I feel like I have been harping on this for the last few articles. I can’t stress the importance of having a plan in place for practice. You can lose a lot of good forward momentum without a plan. On the other hand, you can maximize your efforts just by having a plan.

How do you create an action plan? Set limits to what you do every day:

Practice at a Set Time

We have busy lives and that is a good thing. It takes effort to carve out 15, 30, 45 minutes or more a day to practice. We need a time without distractions where we can focus on the task(s) at hand. That may be in the mornings for you. It could be in the evenings, just before bed. Sit down and work out a time that is best for you. And then, be flexible when your schedule changes.

Practice in a Set Place

Pick a place where you can have an extended amount of time without distractions. Maybe you have a home studio where you can go in and shut the door. Maybe it is a bedroom or evening a living room. Sometimes, when it is nice out, I practice outside. Find a place where you can concentrate on your practice and technique.

Have Goals for Everything

This is one of the great keys to improving your playing. You may have heard people say, 10 minutes of focused practice is better than hours of noodling around. This is true. When you practice, have a plan. You might start with 5 to 10 minutes of scales. Then add 5 to 10 minutes of arpeggios. Add to those 5 minutes each of slurs, harmony, and stretches. Practice Tremolo for 10 to 15 minutes. Then practice your repertoire.

But not only that, break your repertoire down. Maybe practice the chords only for a few minutes. You could have several minutes for slow practice. Change things up and practice the left hand only. You can take all these ideas and create your regiment focusing on what needs the most attention.


The “I can’ts” usually don’t. This is not something that is going to happen overnight. In this fast-food world that we live in, we tend to want everything right now. When we can’t get what we want when we want it we can make up excuses. I have encountered enough people to usually know if their heart is in learning the guitar. You make time for the things that matter to you. That being said, planning is essential to any task. Take time to work out the details.


Having a teachable spirit will go a long way in your guitar-learning journey. When I first started this journey, one of my first instructors shocked me when he said, “You actually do what I tell you to do.” I was thinking and I think I asked him, “Um, okay, doesn’t everybody?” His answer was “No.” I would think that diving into something that takes this amount of dedication deserves a high level of attention. We will only be as good as our guides (instructors). They have the knowledge and training to help us get to where want to be.

That is not to say that I have always been humble. There have been times when frustration has hindered my progress. Whether it was not meeting my self-imposed goals, not living up to my instructor’s standards, not seeing the progress that I thought I should be seeing, or the worst one, thinking I was better than I was. These always put barriers in the way of progress.


Sometimes taking a step back and revaluating your current method is time well spent. Maybe it is time to change your practice routine. Maybe it is time to get back into lessons. You may need a short break (like a week). Maybe it is time to change up your repertoire. You may have a great routine and it is time to settle in and work out your plan. Or maybe, just maybe, you need to do what your teacher is telling you to do. Just maybe.