10 November 2008

Get Out of a Guitar Learning Rut

Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut with your guitar learning? It happens to all of us at some time or another, so first up, don't panic about it. It seems to be a normal part of the process so you don't give up right away and sell your Strat on eBay.

Here's a three step process to help you to get out of your rut and set you on your way to guitar happiness again.

1. Stop digging

The first thing to realize is that it's what you are doing that got you into the rut in the first place. So stop doing it.

If you push on and hope the rut will go away you will most likely only dig it deeper. There's something in your approach or what you are working on that is not right for you. The rut is trying to tell you this, so hold up and listen to it for a moment.

2. Take stock

Once you've stopped digging the next step is to work out where you are, what you're doing and what's wrong with that. You need to figure out what your rut looks like so you can climb up out of it and head for a new prairie of playing pleasure. In short, get your head up over the edge of the rut to see where you want to go instead.

Sit down and take an honest look at where you are, where you thought you were going, and where you're really going. There are different ways to do this, and you might have to experiment a little to find what works best for you. Here are a couple of good things to try, though.

Take a break from playing guitar. During your break pay attention to signs that you receive. For example, you might start to notice a certain song, a particular guitar sound, or a band or player that catches your attention. Note these things down.

Another approach is to use your guitar journal to get a grip on where you are. Find yourself a quiet space, sit down and write down where you are at, right now, in your guitar playing.

First write down all the skills you've learned. List all the chords and scales you can play, as well as the songs, licks and solos you know.

Next write down how you feel about your playing. Here are some questions to help you start.

  • Do you enjoy practice and playing?
  • Do you like the songs, licks or solos you play or are you tired of them?
  • Are these songs and skills what you really dream of playing?
  • What do you love most about playing?
  • What do you like least?

3. New direction

Once you get a good handle on where you are you can start building a new path to your guitar playing future.

Review the things you discovered in step two. What holes in your skills, knowledge or repertoire do you need to fill to play your dream guitar music? Decide that you are going to drop the things you don't like. Don't practice them anymore.

Maybe you noticed there was something new that you'd rather be doing than what you play today. Decide how you are going to work that into your practice routine.

Maybe you are happy with your general direction and what you are working on but need a change of pace. Are you unhappy because you put too much pressure on yourself?

You can be a good and happy guitarist without playing everything. And you don't have to rattle off notes at 400 mph, either. There will always be better guitarists than you, faster guitarists than you. It doesn't matter. Focus on being the guitarist you are and don't compare yourself to other guitarists too much.

If you feel you're in a guitar playing rut then take a little time to work through this process. Figure out what's causing your rut and decide where you want to go to get out of it.

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2 comments:

sarge1875 said...

Another fine article, thanks for your insight!

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Curt, Thanks for dropping by, and for the encouragement.

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