Written by Nicky Patterson of Know Your Instrument
One doesn’t become a great guitarist overnight–it takes hours upon hours of practice, and this is perhaps one of the reasons why many people lose the motivation to learn. It just takes too long. Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re progressing at all!
Not being motivated to practice is a quandary all beginners experience and guess what? It’s normal! According to psychologists, motivation works in waves–there are times when people are highly motivated to do certain activities (such as writing or making music) and there are times when you lack the motivation to do so.
So yes, down times do happen, but it’s possible to keep going. Keep in mind why you want to learn, and follow these tips to stay motivated and learn to play the guitar or any other instrument.
Set small goals
One of the reasons why you don’t feel like you’re progressing is that you tend to compare yourself to others who may have several years of guitar-playing experience behind them. Focus on yourself and set small, achievable goals, whether it’s mastering the chord changes to a song or learning to play a classic riff.
Instead of learning an entire song for hours, break it up into shorter sections and practice for shorter amounts of time. Small improvements count and keep you motivated to make more progress. Don’t rush it–take your time to really get to know your instrument, the sound of each chord, how to make smooth transitions from one chord to the next. Appreciate your music–the better you sound and the more smoothly you play, the more you’ll feel accomplished.
You can also record yourself playing–if you practice on a daily basis, we’re sure that your Day 30 video shows you with much better skills than your Day One vid. Seeing yourself making progress is a great motivator to become better.
This is important. You really, really have to set aside a time for practice and stick to it. Make a commitment to practice every day–make it a part of your routine. You don’t have to practice five or six hours straight, as taking breaks between practice sessions is also important to give your mind and body “remember” what you’re doing.
Even if you don’t feel up to it, or when you feel like you’re going through a down time, just sit with your guitar, do a few chords. Don’t think, “I’m not motivated.” You just need a bit of a push–think about the music that you love, the music you want to make. It will flow, and soon enough you’ll find yourself strumming away.
Get rid of distractions.
Making a habit of practice also requires you to get rid of distractions so you can focus. This means no going on social media, turning off the TV or game console, putting down that book or magazine and simply dedicating your time to learn to play your instrument. Don’t worry, your discipline–and self-control–with practice will pay off.
Each time you achieve a short-term playing goal, reward yourself–go out and see a live band, get a day off, watch a movie or what have you. It’s important to recognize the progress you make with small, simple rewards to keep you motivated to learn. Set bigger goals the better you get at playing, and reward yourself with new guitar gear–or a new guitar, for that matter. No matter what you do, remember to enjoy the process of learning to play the guitar. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely rewarding.
About the Author
Nicky Patterson is a writer for Know Your Instrument and has written in great deal about both acoustic and electric guitars. She has been playing instruments all her life with particular focus on the acoustic guitar. When not writing or playing instruments, Nicky likes walking her pet dog Giles.