Do you ever feel like quitting guitar and just selling all your equipment? Do you ever feel like everyone is better than you? In playing guitar for over 25 years, I’ve wanted to give up and quit many times but by sticking in there I’ve found that success is just a step or two away. You’re never far from getting to the next level.
If you are a beginner and are taking lessons with a guitar teacher, if he or she has a strategic plan in place for you to make consistent progress and if you practice for about 20 minutes a for 5 to 7 days a week then you will see consistent progress. You should be building a list of songs and have several songs that you can play in your first year start to finish with good timing.
If this is not the case you need to reassess your plan. Check out my two posts on How to Choose A Guitar Teacher (1, 2). They will help you pinpoint problems and determine if it’s the teacher or if it’s something you are doing or not doing to delay your success. Intermediate and advanced players have a different set of challenges and usually more complex lessons so it takes a little more practice time and sometimes a few lessons on the same topic hitting it from different angles.
No student should have to go home and guess at what or how to practice for the week. It should be detailed and broken down and suggestions for minimum time on each idea. What you don’t want is just an accumulation of information. We want musical application. If I learn a fingerpicking pattern, can I play a song with it. Moving from chord to chord with no breaks. There is methods of how to practice to be able to learn this skill. It’s not about natural talent for the vast majority of people.
It’s learning a skill. Pure and simple. Do the right thing enough times and you will have a new skill on guitar whether it’s Improvisation, finger tapping or playing complex jazz chords. Information is needed but application of information is what is critical to your progress.
You can have all the potential in the world but if you don’t use it, it amounts to nothing. There is nothing in the world that can beat hard, consistent work. What if you had the potential skills of Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but never practiced? How far would you go? Natural talent would give you an initial jump start but over the long haul it’s the work, the practice that you put into the guitar that determines if you will be a great guitar player or not.
I’ve spoken to some great players and they all have practiced for countless hours for years. That’s what makes the difference. The average player doesn’t need to do that. It’s about consistency. What if you just want to strum and fingerpick songs and are happy doing that? It doesn’t take 5 hours a day of practice but it does take consistent daily practice. You can only perform as well as how you practice.
I’ve seen many students come to me with a playing problem that maybe they’ve had this issue and not been able to overcome it for years and in a few weeks of practicing it like I show them to remove what’s holding them back.
You have to persevere, and you have to commit to finding a teacher, trusting that teacher and get to work on getting better on the guitar. Think about if you could never pick up your guitar again in your life. Make a commitment in your heart that, “I’m going to stick this out.” Whether you are a child or adult, the guitar can teach you and help develop one of the greatest qualities a person can have: NOT QUITTING!
The quality of not quitting, that’s what perseverance is. Many times I wanted to quit, but my love of the instrument and wanting to know how it works kept me going. To really know your instrument takes a long time. But to strum songs, finger pick, and play some Blues rhythms and solos doesn’t take 10 years. You can even practice 5 minutes a day and improve if limited on time in the week. There is really no excuse: you should always be getting better. Be consistent. If you have the right teacher, the right program and you do the program, you will improve every day. The weeks turn into months and the months turn into years and all of a sudden you are really playing your instrument with confidence, knowledge and skill. It’s a really, really great feeling!
Or sometimes it’s even a lot shorter process for some. I’ve had students come back and say many they had a family member walk in on them playing and thought it was a record, they couldn’t believe they were playing that well. This was in a series of months, not year
Remember, when the day is over it’s over. Put the time in and practice and you will be rewarded!
Keep playing and have fun,