Why Don't People Succeed in Learning to Play the Guitar?

Discussion of some of the most common reasons why many people don't become the guitar player they want to be, and how you can prevent this.

Ultimate Guitar

Discussion of some of the most common reasons why many people don't become the guitar player they want to be, and how you can prevent this.

Why do people give up on things that they know they want?

Why do people start taking lessons or start learning on their own and sooner or later let their instrument sit idle?

Why do people not enjoy learning to play guitar enough to keep at it?

Here are some of the more typical answers to these questions. People often say that they:

  • don't have the talent;
  • just too busy;
  • don't have the necessary drive or desire;
  • know they have to stick with it, but it's just too hard;
  • it turns out it's just "not my thing."
There are of course some people who make excuses, who are not committed, who aren't willing to do what it takes, but I'm not writing this article to point the finger at anyone who may seem to have these symptoms. I don't wish you to read this only to find out that there are "winners" and there are "losers" and if you don't do such and such then you're a "loser." This is not the way I roll.

I'll say it simply - people quit because they're not having enough fun with it. The fact is, learning a musical instrument should be fun! And that, taking the correct approach is what will make or break the fun factor.

When thinking about having fun playing guitar, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind for many people, is that of impressing others who hear and see you play. This may seem vain, but let's be real. 95% of us feel this way. And it's perfectly healthy, as long as you have a reasonable grip on reality.

Close behind this or perhaps at the same time are the cool vibes, excitement or even euphoria we experience with certain pieces of music while listening, but then to be playing it? Wow! Even just to play this music alone with no one listening may be fantastic already, but then to be able to share it with an audience, to do it really well, and be the envy of your peers? Wow and double wow! Seriously.

But the fun doesn't end there. And most importantly, it doesn't start there.

Whether it be status, recognition, attracting people to you, or the pleasure, excitement, euphoria, some or all of these things together, these things are products of you being able to play your instrument.

The other fun that I want to tell you about is a different kind of fun. This kind of fun is more crucial to your enjoyment, and continued success in learning to play.

It is the fun of learning how to do something we didn't know how to do before. I'm not just talking about the sense of accomplishment. The sense of accomplishment is another product of your being able to learn to play.

It is the fun of discovering exactly what needs to happen in order to learn a particular skill and making it happen. In most cases, if we have made a satisfactory effort in developing decent understanding of what it is we're attempting to accomplish, then we have 95% of the job in hand. It is the other 5% of the job that we are not able to figure out yet.

Now here's a sweet idea: learning just what that 5% is, is often enough to get it done! In many cases this is all that is required! Just finding out what it is! And there it is - 100%!

Now this may or may not mean you are now ready to go play rock star and feel the magic glow. However in any event, you are now ready to go to the next level in your learning and developing of this particular item or skill.

In many other cases of course, this 5% may require more than simply identifying the problem area. And here is where our problem solving skills are put to use and given a chance to grow, to build strength, stamina, focus, patience, persistence. This is it people!

This is the real fun. The serious fun. The confident fun. The most useful fun. The skill that we need in order to truly succeed in life! Not just in music, but in all areas of life.

And this is why learning to play music is so good for people. Once we have experienced this on a deeper emotional level then we can naturally feel this way when trying to overcome other challenges that face us. The payoffs are huge. When you apply your problem solving skills in other areas of life the same as you do with music, you are unstoppable!

It was more commonly said in the past that music is simply part of a good education. Why? Because it's true!

Is there something else you can do to grow your brain, and develop your life skills that gives you as much personal pleasure as music? And that gives all those other fantastic products of being able to play? Is there?

Now why do so, so many people not have enough fun when learning to play an instrument? Is it their own fault? Very rarely.

In the vast majority of cases, it is simply the teacher's fault. Fault may be a harsh word. "Shortcomings" may sound more reasonable. It's not realistic on your part to expect every teacher to posses the needed skills to make your experience fun.

This is why you need to find not only a good teacher, but the best teacher you can find. A teacher who understands you, your personality, your learning style, your goals, your aspirations. If your goals and aspirations are not clear, then it is just as important that the teacher help you to start developing your sense of what you truly want to accomplish.

Once you have found this teacher and established a good student/teacher relationship, you will be willing and able to do whatever they instruct you to do in order to achieve your goals. You will then be achieving them. You will then be... having fun!

About the author:By robgtrto. www.torontoguitarlessons.com

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    0ld H1pp1e
    I came of age in the early '70's. It was a time when you would bring your guitar and your herb to the local park and get together with a bunch of like-minded fellow guitar players. Together we would make a gawd-awful racket -- low musicality -- but it didn't matter. We learned from each other and had tons of fun. But I would take things I was shown and practice them and blend them into my "style". I learned that you don't have to make perfect songs and that a klinker could cause your friends to have a good laugh, and that was cool. I have kept that experimental attitude throughout my musical career and it has served me well. And then when learning music theory and taking some formal lessons, it unleashed a ton of "aha moments" when you realize you've been doing that all along. And that becomes the glue for building even more elaborate musical structures. Those days formed my attitude towards learning guitar and it hasn't changed significantly since then. If you don't have fun, you will not put in the literally thousands of practice hours you need in order to get that muscle memory down to where your fingers can connect to that music in your head and not have to think about it. In fact, some of my peak experiences on stage have been where the music just flows out of me and I become a kind of spectator of my own performance. When you reach that kind of state, it makes you understand my statement that that is just about as much fun you can have with your clothes on.
    didn't yet make it to the end of the article just wanted to say, that the RIGHT approach is not to learn to play the guitar, but to learn to have fun with it. And right, not like 'watch i can make dinosaur rrroarh with my guitar!'. But a kind of fun, when you feel something behind what you play. You can even ease your pain with it, i might ofc be using too much of psychedelics, but music, when taken a right approach, is magic
    When I have days where I think "what's the point", I just remind myself how long I've been playing, and how far I've come in that time. I also tell myself that I can play my favourite songs which I'd never think I'd be able to play.
    I agree, it is important for a student of guitar to find a teacher they connect with.
    leander m.
    The other thing is, they compare themselves to others, when someone just watched an 8 year old shredding on youtube and they will be discourage and don't want to play anymore.
    That's actually quite true... Like seeing that kid with a Les Paul on Ellen and just think to yourself..."Damn I really suck. And this kid is halfway to Garry Moore..." Really for me it brings down the drive a notch instead of bumping it up.
    This is so true.
    That's an incredibly negative attitude. Great players have all worked really hard for what they can do (and the audience doesn't see that). When I see a great player, I feel like -- man that was inspiring, I want to be that good, I really need to up my game.
    when I first started to play I thought it was impossible. But I stayed dedicated to it I don't have my own play style tho I sometimes act like James Hetfield in my room when playing along to MetallicA. Either way I love it
    I play bass for 7 years and I learned all by myself. No lessons. You just need the something special. That thing that makes you a musician. And of course, you must have a favorite band, a band which songs you desire to learn to play. And that's how I developed all my techniques, by learning different genres.