Prioritizing The Guitar A Change In Outlook

Do you always feel like you don't have enough time to work on your musical skills, or just can't find the proper motivation to get started? Check this article out.

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Over the years that I have been teaching guitar, I have had my share of students who express frustration with their self-proclaimed low ability to learn things on the guitar. Some of them feel that they aren't able to put aside enough time to practice; others are worried that they're not musical enough to play at the level they desire. I've even seen people completely convince themselves that they will never have any real talent on the instrument, and quit playing the guitar altogether! In every case, I've noticed one thing in common: All of these fears or worries are self-imposed excuses, and they can easily be reversed with a change in outlook. To go into greater detail, I'll use the scenario of two separate guitarists in the middle of learning the exact same thing (could be a song, technique, or whatever). These could be students of a guitar instructor, or even just two different people learning free things on the internet. Guitarist A complains that there is no time to practice. Guitarist A has to work long hours, is involved in multiple activities outside of guitar lessons, and just can't get a moment alone. Let's assume Guitarist B does the exact same activities as Guitarist A. The difference is that Guitarist B doesn't complain about not being able to find the time to practice. In fact, this student seems to be finding more than enough available time to practice, even after their insanely busy day. Guitarist B has put in the effort to be proactive, and has found the time to work on their guitar skills every day, even if just for a little bit. The reasons behind this could be something as simple as not watching TV for 15 minutes, or choosing to go to bed a little later than usual. There are so many priorities in life, and so many variables, that the possibilities here are endless. What is apparent though, is that Guitarist B has placed the guitar a little higher on the priority list. As mentioned previously, some guitar players constantly complain every week that they are so busy that they can't get the time to practice even once during the week. This is almost always (and I say almost, because sometimes things do come up) just an excuse, and is not the real problem. The real problem is that the guitar is very low on their list of priorities. Just as anything else in life, if you focus on a goal and work towards it, you will get closer to obtaining that goal. With the guitar, this translates into putting the time into practicing, playing, studying, and essentially doing anything that will help further your skills on the guitar. A big reason that so many people don't get to where they would like to be as a guitarist, is that they allow themselves to hide behind their own excuses. They don't put their time and energy into working on the areas of their playing where they would like to see the most improvement. This can translate into literally every area of your life: If you don't focus on improving things, odds are that they won't get any better. My advice is that if you haven't thought about your goals as a guitarist, start thinking about that right away. Do you hope to play in a band? Would you like to just play as a hobby, but at a higher level? Do you want to become a better songwriter? Do you just want to be able to play along to the chords of your favourite songs, or would you like to be able to throw a fire-breathing guitar solo off of your fingers? These are just a few of the questions that you should be asking yourself. If you have trouble figuring out where to start with this, go out and find yourself a good guitar teacher (trust me, it will be more than worth your money). Remind yourself every day what your goals are, and work towards them in as many ways as you can. In the end this means not letting yourself make any more excuses so that you can finally place the guitar higher up on that priority list. Jason Wilford is a Musician and Guitar Teacher from Ontario, Canada. He is the founder of Pro Guitar Studio, which offers Guitar lessons in Mississauga, Ontario. Visit the website to sign up for the free newsletter that contains guitar playing tips and more.

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10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    sonicx2218
    I agree, but there are also people like me, who lack any talent at guitar. Who, even after hours a night practicing, only improve a little. Who, after 10 years of guitar as life's priority are still only at the level of some people's 4 years. And that feels horrible. Because I love playing the guitar, but I almost feel like the world doesn't want me to. Though I will never give up because of it, It is discerning.
    libertines4ever
    a friend of mine has been playing for the same time as I have, for 10 years, and he is still crap cause he only practices every 2nd week
    slowlybilly
    Sounds like an excuse sonicx....takes 12 hours a day to get to the level most ppl want to get to....do you put in that kind of time? Then don't expect those results. Anyway, great lesson, totally true...I have no job, no girlfriend, don't do drugs, and I'm not in school so I do get twelve hours a day sometimes....eight or so on most days....and MY playing has come a long, long way in three months.
    Ziggity
    I'm sorry but I really liked this article until the "get a good teacher part" is that all your trying to get across here?
    BillR87
    Its not one specific amount of practice time a night that improves your playing everyone is different and out for different goals in there playing not to mention everyone learns at a slightly different speed some do pick it up easier than others its true but it all depends on what your trying to learn if its classical/flamenco or progressive music its obviously gonna take a little more time and effort than learning 4 chord reggae or rock/pop songs isnt it? Thats the beauty of guitar you can set your own goals and achieve them in your own time obviously like anything in life you only get out what you put in and that can be anything you choose, Good article great advice
    jasonwilford
    Ziggity - there are a lot of budding guitarists out there who don't know how to properly manage their practice time, or even know what to practice. My advice is always that if you're in that boat, a good guitar teacher will help tremendously. If this doesn't apply to you, you'll do great as long as you set and work towards specific goals.
    iaberis
    One of the best articles I've read. It's more than obvious that prioriting our thoughts/goals is one of the most important things in life, not just in guitar playing...