Tip 1: Get Organised
The biggest asset you have when you are young is the abundance of time. The sooner you start guitar the better, and if you can compound the time you have by being organised and working with purpose it will make a huge difference to your development. When it comes to being organised the first thing you need to do is have a plan. The plan you make and the action you take will be determined by how much time you have before you have to do your exams. Ideally you don’t want to wait until the first day of year 12 to think about the pieces you will be performing. Instead, you want to plan these pieces as early as you can so that you can maximise the amount of time you have to work on them.
Tip 2: Learn The Fretboard
The biggest gap in my knowledge when I was completing VCE Guitar was the fact that I barely knew the instrument. Sure I knew the locations of the notes in open position, but I didn’t know anything beyond the 3rd fret and didn’t even understand how bar chords worked because I didn’t know the notes on string 6. I memorised a lot of patterns in isolation, and I could repeat things like a parrot, but If I didn’t have music in front of me or I had to jam with others, I was totally stuffed because I didn’t know anything.
Tip 3: Make It Your Mission To Understand Music Theory
It is essential that you know how scales are constructed, how chords are created, and how major keys and the circle of 5ths works. This is a practical understanding of music theory that will help you make sense of the contemporary music you are playing and all the scales and chords you need to learn, but most importantly it will show you how it is used and applied to real music. Don’t confuse learning music theory with sight reading. Learning how to read music is important, but it is secondary to understanding what is going on.
Tip 4: Know Your Pieces Inside Out
The key is to be able to learn your pieces efficiently so that the majority of your time goes into practicing each piece with the intent of improving them and making things better rather than spending all of your time trying to memorise the piece and just get the notes right.
Tip 5: Learn From A Great Teacher
The person most responsible for you getting a great mark in your VCE class is you, and there is no way to get a great mark without putting in effort. Having said that, employing a great guitar teacher to give you quality guidance and direction with your guitar studies will make a world of difference to the end result, not just of your VCE Guitar score, but your guitar playing across the board. If you’re learning from an average teacher because they are the only teacher at your school – Find someone else!
You need to take responsibility for your outcome and the best way to do that is to go out and find a great guitar teacher who can get the best out of you. You owe this to yourself!
About The Author
Michel Gumley is the owner and head teacher at Melbourne Guitar Academy. He is passionate about helping aspiring guitarists become the guitar heroes of the future and has coached dozens of students through VCE Guitar successfully including the highest score in the state of Victoria in 2016. If you’re looking for a Melbourne VCE Guitar Teacher that will help you reach peak performance in your own guitar studies look no further than Michael.
If you have any questions about guitar or how to do really well in your VCE studies don’t hesitate to comment below or reach out to Michael on social media via @MichaelGumley