I've been playing the guitar for 7 years, but i realize that my playing has not been improving by leaps and bounds; (I am under the impression that guitar playing is linear; if you would plot a graph of skill against time, the longer you play, the better you are bound to get good at it). Are there any ways to improve guitar playing?
There are a lot of ways:
- Get a teacher. Someone who knows more stuff than you on guitar, is bound to help you improve in a way that'd be harder to do on your own.
- Find songs that are more advanced. Like for instance, if you listen to heavy metal and you find heavy metal songs easy to play and that they don't help you improve, find a different genre of metal, like progressive. You'll be able to find songs that are more technical and they will help you improve.
- Find a completely different genre of music. Learn how to play the blues,jazz,rock,country etc. In my book, when a musician can play (good) more than one genres, he is a good musician.
- Find books that will help you. There are billions of books for guitar that go from total beginner to expert -- there's got to be one that will help you advance further.
- Learn theory and harmony. You might already do, but there are a whole lot of stuff to learn from theory and harmony that will help you be a better guitarist.
- Practice more. If you practice a couple of hours a week, it's only logical not improve by leaps and bounds.
- Find a group of musicians to play with; usually there is someone that is better than you and will help you improve.
Anything BUT linear !! Troughs and peaks, more like. One can practise and play loads, and the resulting improvement may be perceived as minimal. There are times when, for whatever reason, one doesn't play for two or three weeks, yet on picking up again, one's doing things easily that a few weeks ago were difficult. There's the physical and the mental sides to learning. With the physical, it's mostly, it seems, 'muscle memory' - whatever that is. But muscle memory needs time to nurture itself - it's not always I've practised for two hours, so now I can do it. The mental side is similar, in that one's brain needs to digest everything, and when it's ready, it'll deliver. Otherwise, why would we wake up in the middle of the night with an answer to a problem we're not even (ostensibly) dreaming about?
All of Shev's solutions are great, especially GET A TEACHER, as oft quoted here. Don't expect 2 hrs practice one day to give the same results as another two hours at another time. Check out other questions on this site about practice/learning,- perhaps someone could refer those, please, and just keep plodding along. Try to enjoy it, as well. We are allowed to, from time to time !
Edit - you ask how you can tell if you're improving. Record yourself ! Every time you play, you listen, and the improvement is so small it's hardly noticeable. From time to time - every couple of months, say, get the phone/ipad/cassette/etc out. If you've heard a recording of yourself from say, a few years ago, you probably noticed a difference. It's that concept on a shorter time span.