15 May 2009

A Guitar Practice Motivation Trick

You know that the only way to become a better guitar player is to practice. Lots. So why is it that so many guitar learners have a hard time finding time to practice?

Starting is Hardest

Our brains often put up resistance to what we perceive as a hard task. When you think of all the things you need to practice, it seems like a huge, difficult task. A task that makes you confront your weaknesses and deal with them. Just the kind of thing your brain loves to resist.

It's so much easier to flop down on the sofa and pick up the remote control...

But this lazy tendency of your brain can work to your advantage, if you know how to trick it into helping you.

Trick Your Brain

You can remove the resistance your brain puts up by tricking it into thinking you're not really going to do anything that big or difficult. Instead of setting out to practice guitar for an hour, simply tell yourself that you are going to put out your stuff ready to practice later.

Fish your guitar out of the spare bedroom, find that DVD you bought to learn all about the Phrygian mode, you could even put out your metronome and tune up the guitar. But then stop.

Leave all your stuff out ready to practice, and head off to do your day's work, prepare dinner, or whatever it is you do in between guitar practice.

How does this help you to practice guitar more? Well, the same way it leads you to watch so many bad films.

Why You Watch Bad Films

I'm sure you've seen many bad films in your life. I'm equally sure that you knew most of them were bad within the first half hour. So why then do you spend so much time watching these films to the end after you have identified them as bad?

It's because your brain wants to finish what it has started, it doesn't like to give up on something it has some kind of investment in. So even when you realize the film is a dud, it says to you, "Well, I've seen it this far, I might as well stick with it. Maybe it'll get better as it goes along...", but of course, you know it rarely does.

Now, if your brain will help you sit through an hour and a half of an appalling movie just to discover how the hero beats those wicked slimy alien bad guys, imagine just how eager it will be to find out what you're going to do with that guitar you put out this morning before you left for work.

Homework - Set Up Your Next Practice In Advance

Now, here's the challenge for you. You're really serious about getting in some good practice time, and you want to beat your procrastination and set yourself up to actually do it, right? So, decide when your next practice session is right now.

Will it be this evening when you return from work, after dinner? Or maybe tomorrow morning as soon as you wake up? Whatever the decision, go prepare your guitar, amp, book or video, metronome, chair, whatever you need to practice. Go and set them all out ready. Then head off to work, help the kids with their homework, or get a good night's sleep.

When practice time comes around you should notice that it's far easier to get started. In fact you'll probably notice that you were thinking about that practice session all through your work day, or as soon as you woke up. And I'll bet you'll feel a burning desire to get to it and practice.

Now you know how to trick your brain into helping you come to every day's practice session motivated and ready to go.

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Photo by lucas.

Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original content for your guitar web sites. Discover guitar writing services for web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, this was just what I needed! Of course I really want to practise and get better but I just feel that there is so much I need to know and so much that I don't understand that I can't do it.

On a side note, could you recommend what is best to open up to guitar more, instead of just reading and playing tabs? I am not very confident with solos, and improvising is something I really want to nail but I find myself just going up and down through scales, not really knowing what to do or which note to hit next.

Thanks so much :)

Gary Fletcher said...

Thanks for your comment. I know how you feel, I often get overwhelmed too, but somehow you have to accept that you can't ever learn it all.

My main arm for dealing with this is to write a small list of things to learn. I then try to forget about all the other stuff and simply focus on what's on the list.

As for opening up to guitar and improvisation, your questions sparked a whole post sized list of ideas. So I'm going to get busy writing them up. Look out for the answers later this week, I promise you they'll be posted on the site...


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