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You Won’t Improve If You’re Not Motivated to Play.

By Jon, published on 05/03/2018 We Love Prof - AU > Music > Guitar > The Secret to Motivation When Learning the Guitar.

So you’ve decided to learn to play guitar. You want to be a guitar player, smashing out mind-blowing guitar solos and chunky power chords left, right, and centre.

You’ve started learning guitar with the hope that you’re about to start playing like the greats and will be able to perform all of your favorite songs. And, to do this, you’re quite confident that you can master the range of guitar techniques – from fingerstyle to blues guitar, from barre chords to rhythm guitar, from the pentatonic to the major scale.

You’re totally motivated and ready to dive straight in…

But, the problem is, will you stay that way? The impulse to play as a beginner guitar player can fade away fairly quickly – because, after you first beginner guitar lessons, people usually realise that there is a really long way to go before they can play songs they love and can get all the guitar tricks of jazz guitar down.

The key is to keep your motivation. In every guitar lesson – through guitar chords, ear training, fingerpicking, chromatic exercises – your guitar teacher will tell you exactly the same thing. Because you’ll learn how to play guitar if you stop after your third lesson!

Beginner Guitar Motivation: Starting Off Strong

At first, learning to play the guitar feels like a breeze.

You learn quickly, you sign up for a few classes to improve your guitar skills, you learn some music theory, and you meet other musicians and begin to jam together. You slowly develop your knowledge of the fretboard and guitar tablature, and you feel like you’re well on your way to being the best guitar player that you can be.

You think you now know how to play the guitar – and, in short, you can see yourself graduating to rock god status in just a few months and performing all kinds of fancy tricks and techniques.

Sudden Discouragement

You’ve managed to put the odd guitar chord into some chord progressions, and now you can play a few guitar songs.

However, passing through the basic chords, you get a little stuck. Unfortunately, even the most fervent prayers won’t be any help when your first disappointments and obstacles arise.

Whether you’re sitting in your studio, at your computer, or hidden in your bedroom, you suddenly hit a brick wall and just can’t get any further. You might feel as though you are even going backwards

Do you ever experience these terrible periods of discouragement?

You’re in the middle of working on the rhythm for a new piece of music, but nothing sounds like it should, or it requires techniques that you haven’t yet mastered. Guitar practice becomes a little frustrating – and you don’t really know where you are going next.

Even worse, you meet another guitarist who’s been playing for even less time than you, but plays much better. Or seems to at least.

You want to just throw in the towel and give up guitar – it wasn’t really for you, after all, and you’ll never be great anyway. You hide away your guitar music, think about quitting with your guitar instructor, and sulk.

This type of thinking is perfectly reasonable and normal. But if you want to learn to play guitar, you need to realize that it’s not a linear progression. No one learns on their own, and aside from prodigies who jump right in, the highs and lows are normal.

The important thing is to learn how to become and stay motivated so that practicing your guitar is an enjoyable hobby. People like Eric Clapton didn’t become the heroes of the guitar licks by giving up when rock guitar became a little tough.

Staying Motivated as You Learn Guitar

What is motivation?

When you begin to feel like you’re stagnating and hitting a brick wall, playing badly and no longer a good guitarist, your motivation begins to ebb away. You think back to your first guitar lesson and wonder what went wrong.

Don’t worry, everyone experiences moments of doubt, even the great guitarists back when they tried new guitar pieces.

Motivation will keep you moving ahead and taking action to continue in the most efficient and successful way possible.

A card reading 'impossible' torn after the 'im-' One day, you will be able to play whatever songs you want – if you keep practicing!

The important thing when dealing with a lack of motivation is to not let yourself be subsumed with negative thoughts. They will only discourage you from playing guitar and leave you stymied.

Rather, focus on the things that you can do. Play through fun and familiar songs to ensure that you remember that you can actually play the guitar. And keep consistently expanding your repertoire – a new chord progression, or whatever – to show you that, although there are things with which you still struggle, there is still much that you can do.

Focus on your Goals for Learning Guitar

To stay motivated, you can start by focusing on your reasons for playing guitar.

Why did you begin learning to play guitar? What made you buy one? Why did you bother in the first place to try to get through all those chord shapes, open chords, and trickier blues licks?

Do you want to play just for fun, or to perform? Do you hope to become a professional musician, or just jam with some friends? Or do you want to get yourself into the pantheon of the best guitar players ever?

Take a few minutes to really think about your answers to these questions and remember your reasons for picking up a guitar in the first place. You must have had a goal, a picture in your head when you began guitar. Find that picture again and use it to rediscover your motivation. Guitar for beginners isn’t the best fun – but with every moment beyond the guitar basics that you move, you’ll enjoy it more and more.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t become a great guitarist after just a few sessions strumming your guitar – or learning your first barre chord.

Take your goal, write it on a piece of paper and stick it on the wall. That way, you can keep the journey you’re on in mind and remember the different steps you need to travel along the way.

By visualizing your initial goal, you can rediscover the enthusiasm you had at the beginning. This is the only guitar method going that will get you there.

Don’t Skip Steps

Having a goal in mind when you decide to learn guitar is a good thing. It will help guide you on your journey and can help boost your motivation. Do you want to be a classical guitar performer? Or would you rather play acoustic guitar like a singer-songwriter?

If your goal is too challenging and it seems impossible, you risk exhausting your energy and your motivation will drop until you give up completely.

Learning guitar requires patience, dealing with frustration, and practicing regularly to keep improving.

This is how guitar lessons can help – with the support of a professional musician by your side, you will learn guitar the right way, mastering the basics and then graduating on to new techniques appropriate to your level. This is what effective guitar instruction is all about.

At each step along the way, you’ll stay motivated and see real progress.

Why would you jump to finger tapping and playing like Eddie Van Halen when you’ve barely mastered the major chords or how to play an arpeggio? Why would you try and be like Guthrie Govan, when you don’t know how to tune your guitar or what a major chord is?

The basic rule that you must learn to walk before you can run applies to guitar, just like everything else.  Mastering the basics is a crucial step to improving your playing.

If you become demotivated during your lessons, some good advice is to go back and work on something that you’ve already mastered.

By substituting a difficult exercise with an easier one, your brain will think, “Awesome, I know that, let’s keep going!”. Then you can go back to your edgy fingerstyle guitar licks or your faster arpeggios with a greater self-confidence.

Sometimes, it is helpful to go backwards to start from more stable ground to find your motivation again.

Get Help from your Fellow Musicians

The best solution is to sometimes accept help. Don’t hesitate to turn to your fellow guitarists. Because those moments in which you talk to your guitar playing friend will be almost like having free guitar lessons – and no-one can complain about free lessons!

Play Together

Learning to play guitar isn’t always easy, especially if you’re just sitting on your own in front of a computer screen, tablet, or sheets of music. Even with good guitar tabs it may be hard. This is why online guitar lessons such as Jamplay maybe aren’t best for everyone.

Music is something that ought to be shared with others, whether to convey emotions, test your skills against other musicians, or just for the joy of playing with others. Your fellow musicians are your best guitar teachers.

If you want to stay motivated and avoid discouragement, play with one or more other musicians. Try a bit of improvisation, get jamming, and teach guitar to each other. It’s better than sitting just you and your metronome!

But where can you learn to play guitar? And with who?

Group Guitar Lessons

You could enroll in a regular guitar course that will allow you to judge your level and learn to play with other musicians. Not everyone will be at the same level, and it’s very likely that you will have things you can learn from one another.

Doing guitar lessons in a group will give you the solid foundation – fun, sociability, and continuous challenge – that make learning an instrument such an experience.

You’ll be jam over simple C major riffs, read music together, and learn basic guitar theory.

Private Lessons

You could also take private lessons with an instructor. Instead of trying to learn all the techniques on your own, taking the risk of learning bad habits and finally giving up, why not learn with the support of a teacher who will focus on you and help you improve at playing guitar?

Two men with guitars against a sunset. Music is social – and that’s how you’ll keep your motivation to play

Guitar lessons for beginners is really recommended. It sets you up really well, so you can learn your first song, get started with the blues scale, and ensure that you ace your guitar technique.

In fact, an independent teacher can assess your level, identify your weaknesses, and adapt their lessons to your goals and personality.

You’ll have the opportunity to have a professional (and passionate) guitarist all to yourself to answer any and all of your questions. This applies to all genres in which you are interested – whether that’s metal guitar, slide guitar, or finger style guitar.

In exchange, the teacher can show you new techniques and tips, and broaden your musical horizon with new pieces and styles that you hadn’t thought of before.

And the human relationship that you have will give you more motivation than just practising guitar online with video lessons.

Play in a Group

Another way to play with others is to sign up to a club, respond to an ad searching for a guitarist, or to just play with friends.

Even if you only just know how to tune a guitar, as long as you just have a little dexterity on the fret board, you’ll have something to offer and to learn here.

By playing with others, you can show off what you’ve learned and share tips while also learning theirs – and the social elements of music may well be one of your favorite parts of the guitar.

You can share your thoughts and questions, and help keep one another motivated.

Don’t hesitate to play with musicians who play other instruments either – it’s an opportunity to focus on group dynamics and learn how to play with others, and, even with easy songs, this can be enough to regain your motivation. This is something you cannot do with guitar lessons online.

A man plays guitar with friends. Stay motivated by playing guitar with friends.

If possible, try and play with other musicians who are at the same level. If they’re beginners like you, you won’t become discouraged.

Music, and guitar especially, is a living art. A musical instrument is not just a bit of wood. It’s a way to channel your passion and enthusiasm, and a great way to share your feelings.

Enjoy It

You mustn’t forget to enjoy yourself when you play guitar. It’s the most important component to staying motivated and continuing to improve. Love guitar playing, and you’ll improve even more!

That’s why, from time to time, you could:

  • Treat yourself to some new equipment (pedal, guitar, amp, microphone, picks, etc.)
  • Go to a concert to rediscover the energy of good music and the joy of seeing other guitarists on stage
  • Learn how to play chords properly!
  • Enroll in a masterclass with a famous guitarist. It’s a great way to pick up tips from well-known guitarists.
  • Learn new pieces to play on the guitar and share them on social networks like YouTube or Facebook. It’s also a way to receive feedback.
  • Find out how to change your strings!
  • Subscribe to a specialist magazine to find out about current events and learn new exercises to improve a particular technique.
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