Becoming a guitarist is a journey of self-expression, dedication, and continuous growth. However, the distinction between a beginner and an intermediate player is not always as clear as night and day. For some guitarists with a little experience, being considered a “beginner” is like an insult. The connotation can have derisive implications, but that’s another topic entirely!
For now, let’s explore the various levels of beginners and the complexities that emerge as one progresses towards an intermediate level. As the lines blur along the way, it becomes crucial to understand the different milestones and nuances that define a guitarist’s skill level.
The Journey of a Beginner Every guitarist starts somewhere, and there are various stages within the “beginner” category that define the initial phase of learning to play the guitar.
Early-Beginner: At this stage, the individual is just getting acquainted with the instrument. They are learning the basics such as proper finger placement, basic chords, and strumming techniques. An early-beginner may struggle to switch between chords smoothly and maintain a steady rhythm.
Intermediate-Beginner: After getting through the first few weeks or months of practice, a guitarist may become an intermediate-beginner. At this point, they can play a few chords and basic songs, but may still face challenges with more complex chord progressions or intricate fingerpicking patterns.
Advanced-Beginner: This level indicates significant progress from the initial stages. The guitarist can confidently play several chords, has improved rhythm, and may be able to tackle simple melodies or solos. However, they may still lack fluidity and consistency in their playing.
The Blurred Lines of Emerging-Intermediate
As the guitarist becomes more comfortable with the instrument and acquires a repertoire of songs under their belt, they start to transition from a beginner to an intermediate level. However, this shift is not as clear-cut as one might think.
Emerging-Intermediate: This phase represents a guitar player who is more skilled than a typical beginner but not quite at an intermediate level. They can handle more complex songs, possess a better sense of timing, and have a growing understanding of music theory. Nevertheless, certain technical aspects and advanced techniques might still challenge them.
Pre-Intermediate: Here, the guitarist has surpassed the beginner phase but has not fully embraced the skills necessary to be considered intermediate. They might exhibit considerable progress in some areas while still working on refining others.
The Ascent to True Intermediate Reaching the intermediate level is an exciting accomplishment, but it also signifies a more significant challenge for the guitarist. The lines become grayer, and the progression to an advanced level demands dedication and perseverance.
Intermediate: At this point, the guitarist possesses a diverse chord vocabulary, can play more intricate songs, and is comfortable with various strumming and picking patterns. They may begin to explore music genres and develop their unique playing style. Nevertheless, certain techniques like fingerstyle or advanced scales might remain elusive.
Advanced-Intermediate: This stage can be seen as a bridge between intermediate and advanced guitar playing. The guitarist showcases solid skills, can handle complex techniques with proficiency, and might even compose original music. However, they still lack the finesse and complete mastery displayed by advanced players.
Playing with other musicians is a transformative experience that significantly contributes to the advancement of your guitar playing skills. First and foremost, it fosters an environment of inspiration and motivation. Witnessing the dedication and progress of fellow musicians, regardless of their skill level, can ignite a spark within you to push your own boundaries and strive for improvement. Collaborating with others exposes you to a diverse range of playing styles, techniques, and musical knowledge. As you absorb and incorporate these new elements into your own playing, your musical vocabulary expands, allowing you to create more intricate and expressive compositions. For more information on this topic, check out my article “The Power of Collaboration: A Guitar Skills Level Up”.
It is essential to acknowledge that the distinctions between early-beginner, intermediate-beginner, advanced-beginner, and emerging-intermediate levels presented here are subjective classifications of guitar progress. They serve as helpful guidelines to gauge your current skill level, but they should not be regarded as the be-all-end-all for assessing your guitar abilities.
The beauty of learning the guitar lies in the individual journey, and every guitarist’s path is unique. While it’s beneficial to have a sense of where you stand in your musical expedition, it’s equally vital not to become fixated on compartmentalizing yourself into specific categories. The real value of these distinctions is in using them as tools to set personal goals and measure your growth as a musician.
Embrace the joy of playing and allow yourself to explore various styles, techniques, and genres without the pressure of fitting into predefined levels. Focus on continuous learning, experimentation, and most importantly, expressing yourself through music. As you progress and overcome challenges, you’ll discover the true essence of your musical identity.
So, let the journey unfold organically, and don’t forget that the most meaningful reward comes from the progress you make and the satisfaction you derive from mastering new skills and crafting beautiful melodies. Embrace the uncertainty, enjoy the process, and use what you learn about yourself to shoot for your musical aspirations with passion and determination. Remember, it’s not about reaching an endpoint, but rather savoring the transformative power of music every step of the way; the journey.
Kurt Echols is an American musician and the founder and Owner/CEO of Axtreme Guitar, a thriving Boston-based enterprise known for its guitar lessons and comprehensive maintenance and repair services. Kurt’s exceptional talent as a performer captivates audiences, while his creative prowess is evident in his skillful composition of original music that deeply resonates with listeners. He actively collaborates with fellow artists, co-creating captivating musical arrangements.
Alongside his musical pursuits, Kurt is committed to fostering music appreciation among young individuals. Through Axtreme Guitar, he engages with the community by providing music appreciation programs in elementary schools, inspiring aspiring musicians and instilling a love for music. With his diverse skill set, unwavering passion, and impactful contributions, Kurt Echols continues to leave an indelible mark on the music industry, both locally in Boston and beyond. Axtreme Guitar also maintains a strong online presence with engaging content on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/axtremeguitar and at Axtreme-Guitar.com.