Could Someone Give me Advice on Progressing Beyond Intermediate Level?

Hello there,

I have been a member of this community for some time now, and I’ve found it incredibly helpful in my guitar journey. I’ve reached a point where I consider myself an intermediate player, but I am feeling a bit stuck and unsure about how to progress further.

I have been working on improving my technique, learning new songs, and even trying my hand at songwriting. However, I feel like I need some guidance on what to focus on next. Should I delve deeper into music theory, work on more advanced techniques, or perhaps explore a new style of playing?

I would love to hear from those of you who have already surpassed the intermediate stage. What strategies did you use to break through to the next level?

Are there any specific resources, exercises, or practice routines that you found particularly helpful?

Also, I am curious to know how you maintain motivation and continue to challenge yourself as a guitarist. Sometimes, it can be easy to feel discouraged or complacent, so any advice on staying inspired would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your help and assistance.


Regarding motivation - I make commitments. It could be taking lessons, courses, playing in a band/ensemble, booking a gig, etc. It just has to have an external address. I mean, a promise to yourself isn’t worth much, so promise to somebody else, make the result matter.
As for advancement, you could start making your own arrangements, for example, or write music, or just find some extremely exciting player on youtube and try to play some of his stuff.
Also, if this is not you job, you don’t have to force yourself to improve. Have fun when it’s fun, take a break when it’s not.
Just my thoughts :slight_smile:

1 Like

I think that as you progress it becomes more important to understand your goals. Do you want to play live, play in a band, write songs, specialise in a particular genre etc. You can’t be great at everything. What works for me is to be honest with myself about my goals and what I want to achieve in the next 12 months, then decide the small steps that will get me there.
Understand that you can never be motivated all the time - sometimes you need discipline to practice when you are not motivated, although I think @Alexeyd makes a good point about keeping it fun.

1 Like

Hi Elija ,
After intermediate follows

And if you want to get some ideas about what’s still out there or just briefly check what you know, you could watch the Ruthbuster series with Justin and the Captain…

Have fun , Greetings

Well, I’m not who ya wanna hear from as I feel I’m intermediate at best too.
That said.
To keep myself going forward I’ve been doing Justin’s lessons. I’m still kinda in the early stages of his lessons (grade 3 mod. 16). While I feel I know what he’s talking about and doing, in general, most of the time I find something that Justin is doing that I’m not aware of. I’m learning and moving forward.

I do know what some of my lack of skills are.
Like I don’t know where all the notes on the neck are. I find pics hard to relate to, so I’ll sit here and play octaves of notes I know what they are, then pick the octave and note where it is. I’ll play just a plain major scales starting on any root note trying to figure what notes I am playing. This is hard for me as I’ve not gone back are recalled the notes in any particular scale, nor the quantity of sharps and flats. If I pick them out slow I can figure it out. I’m hoping that this will sink in eventually and I’ll start recalling where the notes are up the neck.

I play open chords, then try to find it up the neck with a different shape. See how many ways I can play any said chord. I’ll play around with scales (generally major at this point) from any chord I choose, at any place on the neck using alternate chords other than open. See what sounds good.

I play quite a few songs, however, I don’t play them consistently (some I do, most I don’t). So I try to play the ones I don’t play so well, ones I know I need to improve on, I try to play them better, perhaps modding how I play to improve the sound.

I’ve been messing with finger picking. I can kinda do it, but I have much improvement ahead of me, so I work on that.

Try singing with the songs you know. While I can play some songs, I generally can’t sing along. So I work on that.

Some days I feel like I discover something new doing these things. Some days not so much.

Try recording some songs. Most of the songs I’ve put up here I’ve had to record them many times before I get them to where I think others might kinda like what I do. Recording also brings to light where I’m for sure lacking skill in playing the song. It just don’t sound right to me.
I do have to mod many songs I do since I play by myself w/o backing. To get a song to sound half good, I have to mod away from how I’m learning a song, perhaps to put a lead lick in between phrases.
As for backing tracks, I generally try not to use them as, to me, it’s to easy to let the backing track cover up what I’m doing, or many times, lack of doing.
I want to play a song and have it be me, not me and some pro backup band, or even the original band. I’m not gonna be the original band, so I figure it’s got to be just me.

I doubt my approach is the best approach, but it’s what I end up doing it seems.
And I do feel I’m slowly improving. I assume heading to the next level. Maybe.

Myself, I got one song I’ve been doing for a while. I’ve posted up two versions of it I’ve done here on this forum. I don’t like what I’ve done, so, I’ve been working on the song for months now trying to get it better so that when I post up my next version, folks here can actually hear, see, the difference (hopefully improved difference) in what I’m trying to play.

That’s my unskilled observation about me. Know idea if it will help others.

It’s a slow game this learning guitar.

Edit, to help progress further, get yourself some new gear! That never hurts… :wink:

1 Like

Have you completed all the Intermediate Grade Modules and Lessons or at least the ones pertinent to the styles of music you want to play ? I would suggest going through those if not to establish if you are in fact Intermediate level. I note this seems to be your first post.

I’ve been here 10 years and still have to get through Grades 4 to 6, so do not class myself as intermediate, so its always worth a status check before embarking on a new journey. There may well stuff you have missed.

I would add that I did actually complete all of the old Intermediate Courses (IM1 & IM2) some years ago but Justin has added new material, as he did with the new Beginner Grades 1 to 3. Just so folk know where I am coming from.

Hello Elija,

Its all determined by where you want to go. I know it sounds wishy-washy, but you need to get specific. Do you have a particular interest/ genre ? Eg. Country, metal, blues, fingerstyle etc. Perhaps you just want to be able to play whatever you want with much more ease? Perhaps you want to write your own songs? You can’t become a master of them all, so may as well work towards becoming a master in one or 2 areas.

So that will largely determine your practice routine; laser focus on advancing the skills that support your specific interest, while continuing development of all the basic skillsets. After all, you might have a specific focus, but that doesn’t mean you don’t like doing other things as well.

I started to really hone in on Blues/ lead playing about a year ago, so I’m trying to really develop skillsets that support this; things like 7ths and other extended chord voicings, triads/ arpeggios etc vibrato, bends, slides, pentatonic/ blues/ mixo scales, blues song structure, blues rhythms,improv, intervals, chord tone targeting, blues phrasing etc etc. Now, building knowledge and basic skills in the above is one thing; developing advanced competency in them is a lifelong process. So as long as my interest in the Blues remains, I’m never going to run out of things to develop.
I do like playing some other types of music as well, but you’re never gonna see me bashing out power chords to a Slayer or Megadeth piece. So, I dont really practice power chords anymore. Same with tradiotinal fingersyle. It’s not my thing. I can do both the above to a level that serves me. Thats enough for me.

So what you practice will be determined by what your focus is. Get some pen and paper out, and start nutting it out. One overarching thing I will say is that a solid foundational understanding of theory, including intervals and chord structure, is a powerful weapon in your arsenal.

Cheers, Shane.


The most valuable thing I’ve found is (i) find music you like and want to play; (ii) assess whether you can work it out by ear/jam along with it. The best musician’s I’ve had the luck to play with have all had the ability to pick up anything I play really quickly and then to develop it. If you can’t do that, drill into what’s holding you back and work on those elements. If you can’t figure it out, you should try to get a teacher to help you if you can.

I’ve found the above to be really valuable but also really frustrating. To maintain motivation / fun, I’ve found a local group that I play songs with (roughly every month) and I try to make sure I have learned enough songs to keep that fresh. I’m happy to use YouTube tutorials/tab to learn those songs quickly but I do keep trying to learn more and more by ear as I progress.

Hopefully that’s of some use. Congratulations in any event on hitting the intermediate stage - that’s no mean feat in itself!

“Where you been is good and gone
All you keep is the gettin’ there”
(Townes van Zandt To Live is to Fly)

Find and learn songs you like and enjoy playing, including challenging ones.
Move up the fretboard: Learn Caged. Practise using triads without having to think about where they are.