How many songs can you play all the way through?
I’ll give you a minute whilst you think.
OK, now you’re back with me, I have one last question…
Are you happy with your answer?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone if you answered no.
With the avalanche of confusing information out there on the best way to learn to play guitar, it’s no wonder 99% of guitar players admit at some point they've hit a brick wall.
It’s tough staying motivated. And I’ll let you into a little secret:
It’s ok to admit it’s a teeny tiny bit soul destroying when you come across a video of some 5 year old whizz-kid shredding a Steve Vai solo with face-melting speed.
It’s also ok to ‘fess up to wanting to throw your guitar out the window in frustration at times! You’re only human.
Don't fear, help is at hand. Because you’re about to discover 4 life-changing strategies that'll prevent your playing from going stagnant, help you sound better, and keep your passion for playing burning bright.
Let’s get stuck in.
Roughly 20% of people in life succeed in learning a new skill well, and the other 80% fail. The 20% that nail it aren’t more talented than the other 80%. They just worked out how to focus themselves on what they needed to do to get better at that desired skill.
So, you can step up your guitar playing skills like never before if you simply focus and show yourself a little tough love…
The secret to becoming successful at getting better at playing guitar is self-discipline.
This is how Brian Tracy, personal development guru and author of top selling books on productivity No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline and Eat That Frog!: Get More Of The Important Things Done Today describes self-discipline
“There is one special quality that you can develop that will guarantee you greater success, accomplishment and happiness in life.“
Yes. all it takes is a little self-discipline.
We’ve all heard about those people who try to learn guitar & whimp out giving up early doors. Well you don’t want to be labelled as one of them. You know the type of person; always looking for an easy ride. Scratching around for the next quick fix.
You've probably guessed what I’m going to say next… anything worth having in life requires you put in some effort. A bit of hard graft.
Giving yourself a proverbial kick up the butt now and then is vital to helping you improve on guitar. And you’ll be much happier in the process too. Bonus!
Like the time you made yourself go to the gym or finish that report for work when you really couldn't be bothered to, after you did it, you felt pleased as punch.
It’s all about baby-steps. Being more self-disciplined isn’t about you sleeping outside on a winters night or pistol-whipping yourself into a frenzy, sergeant major stylee. That wouldn’t be much fun.
Try this little game instead. It’s a lot more fun:
1- Next time you sit down with your guitar to practice, cut the session into 20-minute chunks.
2- Now, tell yourself you will not check your phone, computer or tablet for that first 20-minute chunk.
3- Next time you practise your guitar, increase that ‘electronic interruption time-out’ period by another 20 minutes.
And I mean, totally ignore that baby.
If any ping, pop or chime sounds, blank it. You will be strong. You will resist the temptation to stop playing guitar and have a sneaky peak.
Continue this simple no-interruptions act of self-discipline until it becomes an easy habit.
To make this even easier for yourself, try turning all your devices onto silent.
You’ll find by doing this simple action exercise your self-esteem and confidence soars. With each small act of self-discipline you perform, every other act becomes a walk in the park.
The result is your guitar playing will quickly progress. And not just as a result of less interruptions, but because you’ll feel more fired-up to be playing.
You are what is known as a teleological organism. This means you are purpose driven. When you set yourself clear goals to achieve, you naturally zip into action until you achieve that goal.
It’s just the way you’re made.
“An average person with average talents and ambition and average education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals.”
– Mary Kay Ash
Work a little each day towards your guitar playing goals. It’s about those baby steps again. If you start a practise session with no clue as to what you’re about to fill your next 45 minutes with, you’ll not achieve much.
The reason why most beginners give up guitar is because they haven’t set any playing goals. And most of the people who think they have them, have only wishy washy vague goals.
Don’t leave your goals rattling about in your head. Write them down!
Setting goals gives you long term vision and short term motivation. You will be able to measure your playing progression and add structure to your practise once you set goals.
You can avoid that dreaded playing rut & progress your guitar skills faster when you set yourself goals.
To reach your playing goals, step one is to first decide what they are.
Step 2 is to break down your large goals into smaller goals. By doing this you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Your goals will suddenly seem more manageable, so making you more likely to achieve them.
Goals that can be achieved within a short time scale. You should use these smaller goals as stepping stones towards your bigger long term goals. For this reason, short term goals are also called enabling goals.
“Increase the tempo of scale ‘x’ from 100bpm to 110bpm within the next 4 weeks.”
Goals that act as the half-way-house between your small short term, and bigger long term goals. Medium-term goals help you to see the wood for the trees as they help keep you focused and able to assess your progression.
“Learn a few songs that use more advanced techniques such as Travis fingerpicking or arpeggios within the next 3 months.”
Goals that you will achieve in a longer time scale. These are the bad boys that will make you feel like you’ve earned the right to say with confidence and pride; “I play guitar.” Think of these as life-time goals. This will make them seem less scary and more attainable.
“Play 3 songs at an open mic night at my local pub within the next 12-18 months”
Most people are doing it wrong.
How they go about learning to play guitar that is.
You see, for most people when they think about improving their guitar playing, they think only about what they do on their guitar.
This isn’t the full picture though.
Your chance of success at sounding good on guitar begins before you pick one up…before you even buy one in fact.
Here’s the crack: A whopping 85% of your happiness or un-happiness will come from the relationships you have with the people in your life.
I bet you never thought about it that way. I know I didn’t until I discovered this eye-opening fact.
The short and long of it is this: If you have healthy relationships with your family, friends, work and/or study pals, you will feel happy and content.
Being happy and content means you will approach everything in your life with a positive, up-beat attitude. How does this benefit your guitar playing?
Playing your guitar will actually become fun the more positive you feel. So don’t take your relationships for granted.
Think of a time you last had an argument with someone. Did it make you feel like you wanted to practise your guitar?
Whether you just answered yes or no, be warned: practising when you feel in a negative mood can lead to catastrophic results. Because as you know, learning guitar can make you feel frustrated sometimes as it is.
So Don’t make your progress worse by playing when you feel wound up.
“The more positive your relationships are, the more positive you’ll feel about playing your guitar. And that equals playing progression”
Sleep deprivation has long since known to have dreadful effects on the human mind and body.
Ready for a shocking stat? Prolonged spells of sleep deprivation has actually caused death in lab animals .
Yes, scientists are that concerned with the negative effects of not having enough sleep that they thought it necessary to subject some poor little critters to experiments which, well, turned out very bad for them.
Ok, I’m not saying if you miss out on a few hours shut eye you’re going to keel over and pop your clogs. But take this on board: Not getting enough Zzz’s will harm your ability to focus on tasks such as playing your guitar.
Imagine this. You're starting a new job today and you just woke from a lousy broken 3 hours sleep. The pits!
The idea of going into work now feels like a real downer right?
Your enthusiasm is drained. You can’t focus on anything but getting through the day so you can get back to bed. You know you wont perform to the best of your abilities.
This is what it's like if you practice guitar when you're tired. You'll feel un-motivated and un-focused. As a result, you’ll be hard pushed to progress much that session.
The scary thing is, many people aren’t even aware when they're sleep deprived. They don’t realise they’d see more playing gains (and in less time to boot) by simply having a night off practicing sometimes to re-energise.
If you’ve had a bad sleep or a draining day at work, it’s not a crime to give the playing a swerve and get stuck in the next day when you have your mojo back.
You may see yourself as a night owl, and that’s fine. Just make sure whatever time you get to bed you get plenty of sleep.
So think twice about staying up till the early hours battling with your guitar. You should be enjoying playing after all. And playing tired is anything but enjoyable.
There’s no one single ‘bone-crushingly epic’ way to become a great guitar player.
There are however a few vital strategies you can use to help stop that playing rot and keep your creative juices flowing.
…And you’ve just learned 4 of the best!
For crying out loud remember this though: these methods work, if you do.
So it’s up to you to ring the bell of change. Break through the brick wall and start learning more on your guitar like a thing possessed.
Guitar happiness awaits you...
Which of these 4 iron clad steps to learn to play guitar the right way do you think you'll find the most useful to help you?
We'd all love to know!
Leave a comment below...