In March two years ago, I started teaching guitar lessons and thought the biggest challenge would with out a doubt be making the content challenging enough for each of my students. My top fear was that I would go through my whole lesson and my student would say "oh wow. That's all you had? I already learned all of this when I was five!” and then laugh hysterically like those hyenas in The Lion King (cause like this totally happens to people!). To my surprise that has not yet happened (YAY!) but the biggest challenge has been something different than I ever expected- convincing my students that their learning pace and mistakes are absolutely normal and expected!
I think that there’s this expectation that if you are going to be good at guitar, you should be able to sound pretty good after three lessons and only practicing a few times a week. I think this expectation has to do with some of the social media #instasuccess we see happening along with people using phrases like “this person blew up overnight.” Shows like The Voice and American Idol and the people we see on social media paint the picture that mastering something can be instantaneous if you are truly talented. Meanwhile the hard work and practice is usually all completely cut out because it's not that entertaining to watch!
Here's the thing though: I deeply believe that if you have an ear for music, playing guitar is mostly about hard work. You can definitely become an awesome guitarist by staying positive about your process and finding a way to make your practicing fun! I have put so much time into practicing since Jr. High and it's never felt like a chore for me. I think the more pressure you put on yourself seeing immediate results, the less fun it will be and more of a chance to be discouraging. If you want to get better at guitar, then you absolutely can and you are never too old, naturally untalented, or behind. You really can do this!
So you can stay on track with your practicing, here are just a few of my tips for embracing where you are and enjoying practicing:
For a deep dive on how to get the most out of your guitar practice time, download my free practice planner!
1) Practice with other people
This forces you to stay on time, have fun, and move on quickly from your mistakes. If you just invite someone over who plays and have a few songs on hand, I promise this will help you learn! Quick note- if you know players who you consider a lot better that you, take the opportunity to jam with them anyway! I spent way too much of my life avoiding guitar players who intimidated me. The thing is you are going to learn so much from someone who is better at guitar than you and you don’t have to be on their playing level to be able to jam. If you are at the point that you know your chords and can solo just ok, you are ready. Maybe you’ll be a little nervous at first, but these opportunities will grow you more than anything else!
2) Get over the expectation that your playing “should” look a certain way by now
There are so many things I am still working on that I think I should have mastered by now. But I have still improved from where I was. Remember there is no rulebook for how long it should take you to master something! I can be a quick learner but can sometimes be too quick and miss important details that give my playing finesse and a clean sound. My husband (he plays bass!) on the other hand is SUCH a thorough learner but takes a very lots time soaking in each detail before moving on. Both are great and have their perks. Accept your pace and know you are doing a great job if you are practicing at all!
Practicing even 10 minutes a day can be huge if you are staying on track. Try to learn just one have new thing each day and avoid playing the same licks and songs you already know. It’s easy and familiar to your muscles to do something they already know, so try to be conscious of what order you play certain notes in and mix it up! Just like you need muscle confusion during a workout to keep getting in shape, your fingers need muscle confusion to start playing new phrases!
I hope this is helpful to you! Please share any tips you have for maintaining a positive attitude for your playing below!
Like I said, I have a ton more in my free guitar practice guide here, so make sure you download it!