3 Common Guitar-Playing Hurdles And How To Overcome Them

1. Not Having Enough Time To Play Guitar

 

Believe me, NO ONE has enough time to do everything they want to do. And EVERYONE says “I didn’t get as much practice done as I would like this week”.

 

Having said this, I know quite a few non-professional guitarists who have managed to get their guitar playing to levels that many professional players would envy – these are players who have incredible improvisational skills and solid technique. So how did they reach this level while also working full time?

 

The answer is: they learned the skill of achieving maximum results from the minimum of practice time. That means, practice which gets you the results you want, in less time. This type of practice requires 3 things:

A) Focus

If you have 40 minutes to practice, and you spend 30 watching youtube videos and “noodling” around on your guitar, and then 10 minutes practicing something, you have wasted most of your time! If you know how to focus, you literally start the clock or timer and you don’t allow ANY interruptions for the whole practice time, whether it’s 30 minutes or 40 minutes or an hour or whatever. With a super-focused mind you can get a LOT more done in the same amount of time, compared to how much you can get done with a wandering mind.

B) Energy

If you leave practice until the end of a long day, it may be almost impossible to focus because you have no energy left. One solution to this might be getting up earlier in the morning to practice, or getting some guitar playing in at lunch time. Energy is essential in order to get something done; you wouldn’t leave a physical workout until a time when you are already really tired would you? Likewise, you shouldn’t leave guitar practice until very late in the day either. It is more of a mental workout than a physical one, but you still need a lot of energy for it.

C) Motivation

Even if you have the focus and the energy, these won’t help you practice unless you clearly remember the reasons WHY you are practicing in the first place! It will help you a lot if you think about these reasons and jot them down in a notebook regularly. I suggest weekly. You might want to perform, or be able to join a band, or play a really hard song, or record one of your own songs. There are loads of possible reasons for wanting to get better at playing guitar, and you are bound to find several. Writing them down and remembering them will keep your motivation levels up, which will be like the 3rd leg of this tripod: Focus, Energy and Motivation.

 

2. Not Being “Good Enough” To Play Guitar

 

No one is “good enough” AT FIRST. This is the key to overcoming this hurdle; you must remind yourself that every great player went through what you are going through now. Think about your own favourite player, struggling to play their first songs or solos, years before they reached the level they needed to reach to become famous enough that they could be YOUR favourite player!

 

Everyone encounters self-doubt. Everyone questions their own abilities from time to time. But if you let this voice in your head gain strength, it can become powerful enough to stop you playing altogether. Every time it pipes up saying something like “You can’t do this, only professional musicians who have all day to sit around practicing could get really good at this.” Smile and tell the voice to SHUT UP.

 

Remember this: Firstly, I know plenty of professional musicians, and not a single one sits around practicing all day. They are far too busy organising gigs, tours, or working on other aspects of their professional life (like teaching) to have much time to practice. Sure, at one time in their life they probably practiced a lot, but only for 6 months or a year, and then they could do what they needed to do with the guitar in order to get the gigs or play the music they want to play.

 

Second, the progress you make chipping away at the practice in small chunks, week after week, month after month, and year after year, is in the end MORE effective than just one isolated, intense period of practice. I know because I’ve tried both ways myself. I’ve seen more progress with my playing in the last 2 years than in the previous 8 years because of moving to a more steady, consistent practice routine of roughly 4 hours a week.
If you practice, and practice properly and consistently – YOU WILL GET BETTER. Keep going, and you will get great. That’s all there is to it!

 

3. Having Physical Difficulties Such As Very Large Or Very Small Fingers

 

This is quite a common PERCEIVED hurdle that I hear from students. They say things like “Oh I’d never be a good guitarist, my fingers are too big”. Which is wrong, they will never be a good guitarist because they go around thinking things like this, instead of thinking “I WILL be a great guitarist, I WILL be a great guitarist!” over and over again. I know someone reading this is going to think “That’s a load of crap, what good does positive thinking do, it doesn’t make you a great guitarist”. Which is true, it won’t do anything on its own. But what you keep on thinking, you will DO. Thinking right thoughts is ESSENTIAL to get the ball rolling, to get the right motivation levels to DO the practice which WILL make you a great guitarist. If you keep on thinking negative thoughts about the size of your hands or anything else, you won’t be practicing for long. You will stop, because you believe that something physical is preventing you from getting better. Which is wrong, because unless you have an actual physical disability, getting better at guitar is 99% MENTAL and 1% physical.

 

Listen, when I was a teenager, the 3rd guitar teacher I had was an incredible player. He was one of the top jazz guitarists in the whole country. And his fingers were pretty small and chubby! No one would guess he was a guitarist just looking at his hands. But he had amazing dexterity which is far more important.

 

So how do you increase your dexterity? Keep practicing…:)

 

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