“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” - Victor Hugo
According to a Canadian study, at the age of 5, we’ll have 80% of creative potential and it’ll fall to just 2% by the age of 12.
Playing the guitar and other musical instruments can allow you to find your creativity again. When you learn how to play the guitar, you also learn how to hold a pick or a plectrum, play a famous riff, read guitar tablature, play along to a beat, and you’ll also learn to improvise and express your feeling and emotions through your music.
So how can you improve your creativity by learning to play the guitar?
In this article, we're going to take a look at the benefits playing the guitar can have for your creativity and ways to improve your creativity by playing the guitar.
Combing Guitar Technique and Musical Creativity
Learning the guitar should start with technical exercises for learning basic chords, arpeggios, and even a pentatonic scale.
You’ll also need to learn how to use your left hand and right hand in unison without picking up any bad habits. With all this to focus on, a lot of beginners often forget about their creativity. We wrongly think that you need to play at an advanced level before you can start expressing your creativity, improvising, and composing your own music. Right from the beginning, whether you’re playing flamenco, Gypsy jazz, or bossa nova, you can start expressing your creativity.
There are a number of misconceptions on classical guitar and jazz guitar exercises:
- The exercises are boring
- You run the risk of losing interest
- They don’t allow you to train your ear or work on your musicality
- You don’t really work on your technique in the long-term
Of course, this will all depend on your objectives. If you want to just have a bit of fun with the guitar, it’s better to start learning to play along with songs you like rather than technical exercises. But if you really want to play the guitar at a high level, you should continue practising with technical guitar exercises that allow you to develop your creativity.
Remember that technical exercises stop becoming effective once they become too easy for you. In this case, you’ll need to look for new and more challenging exercises to ensure you keep progressing.
For a productive practise session, here’s some useful advice:
- Listen to your body
- Don’t try and play as quickly as possible right at the start but rather take things slowly.
- Practise regularly! 15 minutes a day is far better than one hour once a week.
Exercises exist in order to achieve a goal. If you’re doing exercises, they should be to play a solo better, move around the fingerboard more fluidly, write a riff, etc. Keep in mind what your goals are when doing exercises and:
- Take breaks.
- Avoid distractions.
- Analyse your playing in order to progress.
- Don’t forget about your right hand.
You’ll find plenty of varied exercises and advice for improving your playing on guitar websites, YouTube channels, and blogs.
When you take guitar lessons for beginners, be sure you find the right tutor who will improve you technique without stifling your creativity.
The Vampire Technique for Finding Your Creativity
The vampire technique, or creative copying, is when you use songs that already exist in order to improve your creativity - which, in itself would be a reason for learning the guitar.
However, this isn’t about just playing a song and saying “I can play that!”. It’s about taking a chord, a bassline, or a drumbeat and modifying it in order to make something new.
A beginner, intermediate, or advanced guitar play can use this technique. You can pick up your acoustic or electric guitar and just try improvising something. It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary. You’d be surprised at what you can come up with by just playing around with the bassline for Madonna’s Like a Virgin and changing a few notes or the rhythm.
Similarly, a barre chord progression could be useful for improvising or composing a piece of music for the guitar. You can play minor chords as major chords (or vice-versa) and come up with something new. You can also take a drumbeat from one song and play different chords over the top of it.
Eventually, you can even start copying yourself! Start with a chord progression that you created by modifying a previous one and modify it further. Creative copying is hardly plagiarism as you’ll see that when you get guitar lessons or start teaching yourself, you’re going to be playing lots of songs that already exist anyway.
Maybe you could take inspiration from Hendrix or Clapton to create your big hit!
How Can You Improve Your Guitar Solos?
It can be tempting to want to play a guitar solo. You’ll probably go out and learn one. However, this isn’t necessarily a good idea for improving your creativity and writing your own solos. You run the risk of putting guitar solos where they don’t belong.
It’s recommended that you learn the basics before tackling solos. On the other hand, you can use them to work on your creativity. Learning a solo is a bit like referencing another author in your work. It’s your job to explain why you referenced their work.
The same is true for the guitar. You can’t base your argument on a series of quotes and you a solo isn’t just a sequence of other famous guitarists’ solos. Instead of learning a solo in its entirety, you can take two or three notes, a bend, or a vibrato you like, and use them in your own solo!
You can start creating your own style by blending what inspires you without using entire parts of another solo!
This is a great way to train your ear and develop your musicality while promoting creativity. You can hone your skills while studying other guitarists.
Advice for Improving Your Creativity on the Guitar
To get the most out of your abilities, there are several ways to express your creativity.
Here’s some advice and tips on getting the most out of your creativity through your guitar playing:
- Work out when you’re creative: not everyone is creative at the same time of the day. When are you creative? When you wake up? After exercising? Before going to bed? In the middle of the night? After breakfast? Make a note of when you’re most creative, write down your ideas (if it’s the middle of the night), or pick up your instrument and start playing.
- Be curious: try to learn as much as you can about the guitar and music in general. Being curious and wanting to feed your creativity can be done through a variety of different art forms. Go to an art exhibition, a dance show, a play. Your inspiration can come from anywhere.
- Change your point of view: being creative is different for everyone. To improve your creativity, you’ll need to shed your skin every so often. Try to think like a drummer, a singer, a dancer, or a listener in order to understand what they want from a piece of music and what they’ll think of your composition, for example.
- Use the SCAMPER technique: if you’re academic, you’ll love the SCAMPER technique. You just need to methodically apply this method and its principles to improve your creativity: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Port to another use, Eliminate, Reverse. You can learn more about this technique online.
- Use a looper pedal: a looper pedal can really kickstart your creativity. You can create, improvise, and play your guitar as if you had a whole band with you.
Don’t hesitate to listen to music when you don’t have a guitar handy. Listening to music can help improve your memory, focus, and produce a creative environment for you to work in. Music can also evoke memories, images, feelings, and stimulate the creative parts of your brain.
So are you ready to start being creative on the guitar?
If you're finding that your technical ability is holding you back, you can always enlist the help of a private guitar tutor. No matter what style of music you're interested in, consider checking out the tutors on Superprof and seeing who's the best fit for you. You can get tutorials face-to-face or from online tutors.
Online tutors will teach you over webcam so as long as you have a computer with a webcam and microphone (which are usually integrated into modern laptops) and a decent internet connection, you can be taught how to play the guitar from tutors all over the world!
Now find out how you can join a band as a lead or rhythm guitarist...