20 April 2010

Learn Guitar - How NOT To Get Discouraged

You choose a long road for yourself when you start to learn guitar. Playing the guitar is a process and as players we evolve constantly. We don’t become good overnight. There are lots of bumps along the way and many times (perhaps even every day?) you may want to abandon the journey. Here are 5 things to remember when you hit those bumps. Discouragement may be inevitable, but here’s how to beat it so it doesn't get the best of you:

1. Assume that what you’re working on will take longer than you think it should. We're always in a hurry to finish pieces, learn new skills, but any project you tackle is likely to expand beyond what you think (or hope?). Allow yourself more time than you may need and enjoy the process more.

2. Allow yourself to play badly. Often times we paralyze ourselves by our fear of mistakes. But mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process and without them we cannot grow and improve as players. All good players play badly at some time, that's how they end up with better skills further on, and eventually with fantastic playing. Get those mistakes out and don't judge them too harshly, if at all, they're a sign you're challenging yourself. So take a few deep breaths, roll up your sleeves, and get stuck in...

3. Finish something quickly. Get it out. You can always go back and improve it later. This is similar to allowing yourself to play badly, but the focus is on speed. Sometimes it helps to just get to the end of something quickly without worrying too much about each note, each chord. Just do whatever it takes to get to the other side: the end. Finishing something is half the battle, once you're at the end you'll have confidence to keep going, you can go back and work out the rough parts, polish the details.

4. Give your guitar some air, get out into the world, show your work to a friend. Don't get trapped in your home and your own problems, sometimes what we need most is perspective. After days of practice living with the same notes over and over again things can begin to feel a little funny. New eyes (and ears) will help us view our work differently. Fresh air is good, too! Take a walk, meet a friend, and allow others to cheer you on.

5. Put the song you're working on away. You don't have to put it away forever, just for a day or two, a week, or longer. Sometimes the best thing to do is allow things to breath. I once asked a teacher what my playing needed, he said "Time." Coming back afresh to a piece can be one of the most productive things you can do. And sometimes, we're simply not ready for what we wanted to do. We don't have to give up completely then, we can simply put it aside for a while. One day you'll feel inspired to move forward when your playing and you are ready.

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You might also like:

Learn Guitar - How NOT To Get Discouraged
Learn Guitar - Are You Paralyzed By Fear?
Learn Guitar - 7 Reasons To Be Thankful
Guitar Holidays - Sea, Strums and Sun


Allen Unrau said...

I think I'll print this out & tape it to my amp...

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Allen, thanks for commenting, it's always nice to know when something is appreciated and helps you.

Anonymous said...

This is all great advice. I think that a lot of learning musicians(including myself) expect too much in too short of time. I feel as though learning not to get discouraged is equally as important as your musical progress. Patience IS a virtue!

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