28 September 2011

The Perfectionists Guide to Learning Guitar

I'm afraid I've got some bad news for perfectionists that want to learn to play guitar. In fact, perfectionists don't ever learn to play guitar.image



Perfectionists never learn to play guitar because they're hung up waiting for everything to be just perfect so they can learn. You can often recognize a perfectionist that wants to play guitar because they always have lots of good reasons why they're not learning.


"I don't have time just now, I'm too busy at work. When I've finished this project..."

"I don't have time just now, the kids take up all the time I've got. When they get older..."

"I don't have time because I'm busy with my studies at the moment. When I've finished..."

"I wanted to learn blues but the guitar teacher here only knows classical."

"This guitar is just not right. One day I'll get myself a decent guitar and..."


Do you recognize any of these?


How to Get Over Perfection

If you recognize yourself in any of these excuses then maybe you are a perfectionist too. But don't despair, you're not doomed to never learning how to play guitar. Simply follow the guidance below to smash your perfectionist road blocks and get learning how to play.


Give up waiting to have time

There will never be enough time to do everything. And there will always be something more urgent to do. Accept this and decide to learn guitar anyway.


If you look hard at your daily routine, I’m sure you’ll see lots of little scraps of time. Learn to steal these scraps of time to practice guitar.


Give up waiting to have the perfect instrument/amp/pick/tuner/...

If you're not learning then it's not because you don't have that 1959 Gibson Les Paul.


Whatever you think your perfect guitar should be you will make more progress if you work with the guitar you have now and spend less time watching videos of your dream guitar on YouTube.


Accept that learning is a process

Learning to play guitar is a process. You can’t jump in at the end – you have to start and the beginning and spend time to get to the end (not that there really is an end, but at some point you get good enough). And the trouble for perfectionists is that the beginning is messy...


Accept that the learning process is messy

Perfectionists have a hard time accepting that in order to play well you have to start by playing badly. Learn that playing badly is just part of the process and doesn't mean you’re not perfect.


Accept that you can play guitar badly without feeling too bad about yourself. Instead feel good about being a perfect learner.


Give up waiting to have the perfect teacher

No teacher that plays swamp blues guitar in your town? Shame. You'll never be able to learn to play it, right?


Wrong. You don't need that perfect teacher to help you learn and progress. Sure, it helps if you have a good teacher, and if you have one that knows your style well that’s even better. But if you don't have one handy then you can still learn anyway. Many other guitarists have done it.


Choose one focused thing that you want to learn and go do it. Get some videos, books, join a forum and discuss with others.


In short, give up waiting for everything to be perfect

In short you need to give up waiting for everything to be perfect.

Learning to play guitar is a messy process with plenty of pitfalls and lots of bad playing along the road. So if you want to play guitar, give up your perfectionist ideals, dive into and revel in the mess.


Are you a perfectionist?

What perfectionist trait stops you learning to play guitar or become better? Click the comment link below to share your story.


Photo by dougward.


Anonymous said...

I spent years literally wondering and gathering information on HOW to really practise the "right" way (right beeing right for ME not for everybody). Still I might spent too much time doing resarch maybe. It's sometimes hard to get started, after work etc. when you have no actual plan or concept. Fortunatley there are a lot of sites like this one here on the Internet that can give you usefull hints. A lot of books too.
But(!) one has to resist the temptation of not starting out for the reason of better waiting for that one or two books, or the piece of equipment like that drum machine on ebay to back your rhythm chops, that might help you practise even more effectively.
I think I finally realized that this process of learning to master your instrument has to be built up over time. I focus a lot more on practising than I did before and I try to put research into practise directly, aiming at building an effective practise routine to get out most of the time I can spare. The thing is to start small and then built it all up, I guess. That goes for every little lick you learn as well as for your overall practise sceme.
Thanks alot for your blog. And if you find any mistakes in spelling or grammar - kepp them ;) I'm no native English speaker.
Long live the Internet!

By the way, what is your stories out there? Got some really good ressources for keeping track on your progress (sheets like chord tables and stuff)? Or any brilliant idea of how to improve effectively maybe?

Cheers to all!


Gary Fletcher said...

@Oliver, thanks for sharing your experiences. Start small and build up, definitely good advice...

Learning Guitar said...

This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing the experience.

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