#1
Hello everyone, I don't know if this is the right section of the forums to post under but i'm sure i'll be redirected if this is true.

This is something that's really being getting me down for a while so my apologies if this gets a little long and ranting.

I got into the guitar when I was 11 and seemed to practice and enjoy the guitar relentlessly
for a good 3 or 4 years from picking it up. For a couple of years after that my technique and abilities seemed to hit a plateau as I was merely sustaining my skill and wasn't practicing anything new and was focusing more on writing for bands and projects (as up until that point I still hadn't completed a full song so writing was my primary focus).
This was good for a while, but it seems like the last year i've gotten drastically worse at pretty much everything musically and technique wise.

It seems like every time I pick up the guitar I've gotten worse at pretty much everything.
Picking seems really uncomfortable almost all the time, i'm playing the same things over and over, my improvisation is terrible, everything's just dead messy to me.
And with myself being an extreme perfectionist, sometimes even hearing myself screw something up during a jam can make me put the guitar down and not pick it up for a few days. This is a vicious cycle that i'm finding hard break, I want to practice but as soon as I screw up I put the instrument down. I've lost the patience to practice but the want and love to play and improve is still under my skin. The thing i've noticed is that I just don't know what to practice these days, it seems to me that there are so many things wrong that I don't know where to start. I don't set goals and I don't set have practice times.


Does anyone have any experience of being in a rut, what was it like and how did you break out of it? Anyone have any tips for breaking this nasty cycle? I'm definitely going to start getting lessons again from my old teacher to force myself to spend some set time with the instrument focusing on practicing.
#2
Smoke a big spliff and go learn the Stooges "Fun House" album... thats what I'd do in your shoes....
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#3
I've had ruts - the way out of a rut is to increase playing time per day. You're abilities will come back and then some.
#4
Enjoy playing. I'm just as happy jamming on a cheesy/cliche 3 chord progression as I am when I finally nail a song I've been working on for weeks. Don't stress over what you think you should be able to and be excited about what you can do. Flip your guitar around and see how easy it is to play, not very. That shows you how far you've come.
#6
Quote by MetallicaKid13
Hello everyone, I don't know if this is the right section of the forums to post under but i'm sure i'll be redirected if this is true.

This is something that's really being getting me down for a while so my apologies if this gets a little long and ranting.

I got into the guitar when I was 11 and seemed to practice and enjoy the guitar relentlessly
for a good 3 or 4 years from picking it up. For a couple of years after that my technique and abilities seemed to hit a plateau as I was merely sustaining my skill and wasn't practicing anything new and was focusing more on writing for bands and projects (as up until that point I still hadn't completed a full song so writing was my primary focus).
This was good for a while, but it seems like the last year i've gotten drastically worse at pretty much everything musically and technique wise.

It seems like every time I pick up the guitar I've gotten worse at pretty much everything.
Picking seems really uncomfortable almost all the time, i'm playing the same things over and over, my improvisation is terrible, everything's just dead messy to me.
And with myself being an extreme perfectionist, sometimes even hearing myself screw something up during a jam can make me put the guitar down and not pick it up for a few days. This is a vicious cycle that i'm finding hard break, I want to practice but as soon as I screw up I put the instrument down. I've lost the patience to practice but the want and love to play and improve is still under my skin. The thing i've noticed is that I just don't know what to practice these days, it seems to me that there are so many things wrong that I don't know where to start. I don't set goals and I don't set have practice times.


Does anyone have any experience of being in a rut, what was it like and how did you break out of it? Anyone have any tips for breaking this nasty cycle? I'm definitely going to start getting lessons again from my old teacher to force myself to spend some set time with the instrument focusing on practicing.



You've answered your own problem whether you know it or not regardless. I've read somewhere in your post that you don't learn new things? That's the solution to your simple problem hitting plateaus in guitar playing is completely normal..

By the way don't force yourself to practice otherwise it just feels like a complete utter chore. My advice would be to branch onto a new style of playing or learn something completely new in the style that you're already playing. Like I've stated hitting a rut is completely normal just take a break, and you'll come back with a fresh perspective on guitar and a new approach to your playing.

It's always important to challenge yourself while learning because if you're not challenging yourself then you are not progressing. A lot of people get stuck in playing the same thing over, and over again wondering why they're not making any progress. Learning new things is important as it challenges you this is the most important thing to remember when trying to make gains in guitar playing you always have to constantly challenge yourself.

If you're comfortable then you're not really learning get out of your comfort zone that's when the real gains are made just think about weight lifting do you keep lifting the same weight over, and over again expecting to get bigger muscles? No you move on to bigger weights in order to make gains the same thing applies to guitar playing remember this, and you'll never stop progressing as long as you're always moving out of your comfort zone. Also by the way it's important to stay disciplined, but it's more important to listen to your body and mind if you're feeling mentally exhausted take a quick break 2-4 days especially if you're practicing on a daily basis. This is a great way to develop as your brain needs time to soak up all the things you've learned over your practice sessions sometimes after playing intensely for weeks; I end up taking a quick break, and I come back better..


Usually my breaks happen on the weekends as I practice 4 hours everyday on the weekdays so I take Saturday, and Sunday off but even on those days I recreate my practice schedule. Good luck on your journey!



Last edited by Black_devils at Aug 14, 2014,
#7
Quote by MetallicaKid13
Hello everyone, I don't know if this is the right section of the forums to post under but i'm sure i'll be redirected if this is true.

This is something that's really being getting me down for a while so my apologies if this gets a little long and ranting.

I got into the guitar when I was 11 and seemed to practice and enjoy the guitar relentlessly
for a good 3 or 4 years from picking it up. For a couple of years after that my technique and abilities seemed to hit a plateau as I was merely sustaining my skill and wasn't practicing anything new and was focusing more on writing for bands and projects (as up until that point I still hadn't completed a full song so writing was my primary focus).
This was good for a while, but it seems like the last year i've gotten drastically worse at pretty much everything musically and technique wise.

It seems like every time I pick up the guitar I've gotten worse at pretty much everything.
Picking seems really uncomfortable almost all the time, i'm playing the same things over and over, my improvisation is terrible, everything's just dead messy to me.
And with myself being an extreme perfectionist, sometimes even hearing myself screw something up during a jam can make me put the guitar down and not pick it up for a few days. This is a vicious cycle that i'm finding hard break, I want to practice but as soon as I screw up I put the instrument down. I've lost the patience to practice but the want and love to play and improve is still under my skin. The thing i've noticed is that I just don't know what to practice these days, it seems to me that there are so many things wrong that I don't know where to start. I don't set goals and I don't set have practice times.


Does anyone have any experience of being in a rut, what was it like and how did you break out of it? Anyone have any tips for breaking this nasty cycle? I'm definitely going to start getting lessons again from my old teacher to force myself to spend some set time with the instrument focusing on practicing.


You have a lot of things going on.

Basically it comes down to a choice.

Self-discipline, or not?

The results you describe are perfectly sound with someone that's prefectionist, critical and uninspired. Given that path, you are exactly where you should be.

To leave that rut, I think takes a degree of self-awareness, to see that's why you're there and why you'll just more or less stay there until something changes. Because, until it happens for you from the inside, changes to the outside, however earnest, will be short lived. I hate to say this, but some people arent cut out for guitar because they cannot master and discipline essential areas that are necessary to progress, and so they only take it so far and they lose their way and inspiration, and things dry up.

There's no mystery to this though. It makes complete sense as to where you are at.

But you can change it, you can choose to make a few goals, add a bit of structure to your life, and maybe get into a style, or a facet of guitar that intrigues you, and use this time to also work on negative thoughts, and patterns and tendencies and push forward. If you see that you do things too seriously, then stop being serious and find something fun and enjoyable. Don't make everything into work, or standards or things to be judged. Just play and make it fun. Enjoy the damn thing, and isolate the attitudes that, as you can plainly see, have not done you any good at all.

Best,

Sean
#8
It's also possible that your ears are now outrunning your hands. When that happens it makes you feel like you're getting worse, while in reality you are just hearing more of your errors. When you feel like all you do is mess up, the instrument starts to feel somewhat foreign. If you feel like you keep recycling the same ideas then try out a bunch of new tunes and just have fun jamming to them, you'll pick up new ideas.
#9
One way to get out of a rut is to try something new and challenging. Something you may or may not even be capable of yet, but something you think can be achieved eventually with hard work. Early on I hit a big rut and didn't know what to do. I heard eruption one day and that all changed. Even though it was very much beyond me at the time I took a stab at it. I was so determined to tackle it that I kept practicing relentlessly until I could do it all. That's pretty much how I first developed my legato and my technique improved tenfold. I advise that you seek to learn new things, check out other musicians, attempt to grasp inspiration from anything around you. Constantly challenging yourself will result in constant improvement.

You say you don't set goals or practice time. If you're really serious about guitar and really want to stick with it, you'll need to have goals. At least short term ones like committing to practicing x times a week or being able to solo over a certain progression. As for practice time, it doesn't have to be a rigid schedule, but you shouldn't put it off for too long. Even ten minutes a day helps more than six hours nonstop one day a week.

Something massively important is to know what you want to achieve with the instrument. Do you just want to play your favorite tunes, write your own music, perform for others, or even make music a career (just as examples)? I know you say you try to write songs. What kind of music are you playing? Determine what amount of technical ability you need to play and write something of that genre and set small goals towards reaching that level. I know I'm saying level of ability, but no "level" is musically superior to another. It's important that regardless you enjoy what you're playing and put feeling into it.

Regardless, you can't let being a perfectionist lead you to defeat yourself because you simply aren't perfect. There isn't a technical level you are required to be at at a certain age or after playing for x amount of years. You don't need to be a prodigy to become great at guitar. I am a perfectionist myself, but when I feel like my technique sucks I set my mind on really working to improve it, knowing that eventually I can improve it to how I want it to be if I put in the necessary time and effort. This is the mentality you need to reach any goal with the instrument.

Finally, try coming up with interesting chords and licks. If you find a chord with an interesting sound, different than your standard triad, try playing over it and see what licks or melodies you can come up with. I have often written songs as a result of simply musing on a chord and seeing what else could go with it. Try to invent cool licks, ones that sound weird and unconventional perhaps. Phrasing can make very simple licks much tastier.

Discipline is important in achieving any goal. You'll need to stay motivated and disciplined to move forward. That doesn't have to be a bad thing though, just imagine yourself with the awesome technique you're looking for and see how you can reach that.

You've reached an important crossroad in your guitar playing journey; do you want to really put the effort in and keep guitar as a big part of your life or is it too much time and effort that you would rather invest in something else?

I wish you the absolute best man, I hope your love of guitar stays strong and she doesn't end up locked away in a closet to collect dust.

Oh and sorry to outdo your rant with a disjointed essay... 0__0
#10
Hey MK13,

of course it's very common. Get yourself some backing tracks of "other songs" you've really like and have been meaning to get to. work on some tunes that you know you'd be able to play at an open mic. I don't know how old you and where you live but try to find an open mic in your area.
Performing live gets the creative juices going. set up some jam sessions at your house or the drummers house and jam jam jam. The rut is only in your head. We are all busy leading lives like paying bills and making dinner, mowing the lawn. LOL. It's all in your attitude man...think differently. Think like a pro. Don't allow the negative to get the best of you. In the end it's about enjoying playing and growing. Do just that...
"How to Become a Better Musician" - is my online course at www.MyOnlineMusicLessons.com. Phrasing and Rhythmic Development, Improv Techniques, Jazz Theory, Ear Training and more. I'm also available for Skype/Hangout lessons.