I’ve arrived at a point in my guitar playing where I feel like I have hit a wall.
To tell you the truth, this isn’t the first time. If you’ve been learning guitar for any length of time, chances are you have felt this way, too. According to Techcrunch, 90% of those learning to play guitar quite in the first year. Why? Because learning to play guitar can get frustrating and enfurating.
In my YouTube video “why is learning guitar so hard,” I talk about my experience, my frustrations and give you 10 practical tips to help you keep going during those difficult times. If you rather read, below is a summary of those 10 tips!
1. Maintain A Guitar Practice In Your Daily Schedule
Having a set time protected is the first significant step in getting better at the guitar.
Rather than just picking up the guitar when you have time periodically throughout the week, which is a recipe for stunted progress, fit a guitar practice every day.
With a set time that is decided in advance, you are more likely to be mentally prepared and retain more of what you learn.
When the time is literally on the calendar, whether it’s on your Google Calendar or written in a day planner, you stand a better chance to stick with it.
In my video “How To Make A Guitar Practice Schedule” I walk you through how I have done it!
2. Have A Goal And A “Why” To Help You Through
Know what songs you want to learn to play, this will give you a goal to work towards.
When it comes to learning guitar, it’s okay if the goal is a little ambiguous at first. Clear it up as you go.
The point is to have a goal. What is it that you want to accomplish in the long and short term.
Having a Why, or a reason for learning will help you stick to learning to play guitar.
Frequently when you are feeling discouraged or dissuaded, remembering your Why can do wonders to pull you back in and get you motivated to keep going.
3. Stick To Playing Guitar By Establishing a Routine
A set of goals can then be systematically attacked by a solid routine.
“Routine” and “Schedule” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.
Scheduling is the act of budgeting your time. It’s the bigger picture. Whereas routine is the pattern you establish within a scheduled activity.
Your routine is how you spend the time you have set aside for playing. A practice routine for an hour session might be as simple as this:
Warm-up: 5 minutes
Chord changes for “Hey Joe”: 15 minutes
Intro for “Hey Joe”: 15 minutes
Practice embellishments and riffs: 15 minutes
Play an entire song with recording three times: 10 minutes
In this example, I’m learning the Jimi Hendrix tune “Hey Joe” and I’ve broken down how I want to spend my time.
The parts of the song are separated out so I can concentrate on different techniques and ideas. Then for the grand finale, I bring it all together at the end.
4. To Not Give Up Plying The Guitar, Start Simple
Whenever you first pick the guitar up for the day, start small to get yourself reacquainted with the instrument.
This could be a simple warm-up you found online, or maybe you play around with a couple of familiar chords that you enjoy playing.
Whatever it is, make it enjoyable and straightforward. This way, you can start off with success under your belt!
It’s also a good idea to intentionally incorporate easy songs in your learning.
Make sure they are below the level at which you are currently playing.
After working on a piece that has been difficult for you, reverting back to something simpler will boost your confidence and will keep some momentum going.
5. Believe In Your Ability To Play Guitar
If you feel like you haven’t made much progress lately, go back and re-visit some of the first things you learned.
It is natural to forget those things you have not practiced for a while. Go back and do a refresher. You will likely get the hang of those old skills quickly, giving you the confidence and belief you need to stick with learning to play the guitar.
6. Make Your Learning To Play The Guitar Musical
Whatever you work on, make it musical.
Maybe you are not practicing a song, but a technique or a concept. You could be stuck on a single chord, and your fingers just are not doing what you want them to do.
Instead of just executing the chord with your fingers, create a beat.
Instead of strumming the chord robotically, strum the low strings and high strings separately in a rhythm.
Turn on the metronome to help you keep time if you would like.
Maybe instead of strumming the chord, pick individual notes.
Pick them in a pattern. Don’t just play a scale “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1”. Create a melody, experiment, be creative, make music!
The whole purpose of playing guitar (for most people) is to make music. If that’s what you want to do, then make everything you play musical.
7. Make Learning To Play The Guitar Fun
Remembering that playing the guitar is supposed to be fun is essential.
If you have made it to six months playing the guitar, I’m willing to bet you find it enjoyable overall. By this point, you may have made tangible progress and experienced the high of learning a song or being able to play a really cool riff. That’s fun!
You don’t have to be at the professional level for it to be fun.
There’s a quote I love which states:
“Music is too important to be left to the professionals.”ascribed to multiple people
If you have found that it is not fun and you can honestly say that you don’t enjoy playing the guitar at all, that is fine. It is time to put the guitar away.
However, If you find that you are not enjoying it at the moment, there may be things that you are doing that are preventing you from having fun.
Be sure you are learning something you actually want to learn.
Don’t learn how to play something just because a teacher told you to do so.
If you are learning chords, do so in the context of a song that you know and love.
It is such an exhilarating feeling when you can play a song that you love listening and singing.
8. Learn Something Outside Your Musical Preferences
Sometimes we get in a rut when we don’t think outside ourselves and don’t change things up.
I’m not necessarily advocating learning something that you really don’t like musically speaking. Instead, try to find something that you have never heard before or that you’ve heard, but it just didn’t pique your interest right away.
A piece of music may not align with your musical preferences at the time, but it can still be quite fun to play. And at the same time, it helps broaden your musical tastes because although you may not add the song to your gym playlist, you have respect for it.
That broadening can open you up to a lot more experiences that will increase the reward and enjoyability of your playing.
9. Don’t Compare Yourself With Other Guitar Players
Comparing yourself with others puts unnecessary weight on your shoulders.
Don’t do it. Just understand that there is a process to learning the guitar; it doesn’t just happen.
Everyone learns at different rates, and that’s okay. Besides, no matter how good you get, there is always someone better.
10. Rest From Learning To Play Guitar
Just grinding out chords and riffs eventually reaches a point where it is no longer effective.
In fact, at the extreme end, it can do damage.
Relentlessly practicing without proper rest can lead to burnout, which in turn will encourage you to leave the guitar altogether.
If you feel like you are suffering the early stages of burnout, there’s no shame in setting the guitar down for a little while and returning to it later.
This can give you the time you need to clear your head.
The idea is to become a fan of the guitar again before you come back to being a player in the game.
Take time to remember why you love the guitar and why you wanted to learn it in the first place.
Think back on where you were when you started versus where you are now.
Even just taking time to enjoy other things in life can be the reset you need before coming back to the guitar refreshed and ready to rock.
Learning guitar is hard; make no mistake about that.
It’s also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
The benefits are immeasurable, and it’s so much fun the vast majority of the time.
However, there are peaks and valleys. Plateaus happen, and we all get into a rut at some point.
Getting past those points is a choice.
Choose to push through and work past those bumps in the road.
Just remember, this is a long-term journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Sometimes it can feel like a grind, but in the end, it feels so good to be able to make music with such a wonderful instrument.