when such negative feelings arise during the earlier
stages of learning the guitar, we are more likely to throw the sodding
thing in the closet with all the other discarded items of woe.
This is the worst thing you could do when times get tough because it
means you never get to
experience the easier, incredibly rewarding and satisfying times just
around the corner.
The only time you should "give up" guitar is when you truly get bored of it.
Frustration is not in of itself boredom. Frustration is most likely
caused by you WANTING to be good at guitar and falling short of your
ambition, usually because of impatience and of what hindsight will
inform you were very
minor obstacles that, at the time, seemed like mountains.
If you're wondering whether to pick up the guitar for the first time,
or start taking it more seriously, you must not let the knowledge that
are inevitable put you off.
Is there anything in life, that involves an investment of your time and
energy, that isn't hard at some point?
If you just accept and embrace that your guitar playing life will
consist of a mixture of dizzying highs, disheartening lows and
indifferent inbetweens, you're ready to start learning! Roll with the
punches, like with anything in life, and keep moving forward.
Marrying Your Guitar - The Learning Commitment
Anyone planning the big move from Guitar Hero to the real deal must be
aware, you are not trying to "complete" guitar. Furthermore, there are
no high scores or cheat codes. Learning guitar is an ongoing process.
Sometimes you'll find it so hard that you won't want to pick the guitar up - this is normal.
"till death do us part". You must put in the time, ideally every day,
even if it's just half an hour of quality time, or things will soon get
Without wanting to delve into the marriage metaphor too much... oh what
the hell - learning guitar is a bit like a marriage (or at least my
cold, objective interpretation of it).
On the one hand, you have to work at it.
Sometimes your time spent with the guitar is awkward and uncomfortable,
even painful. Sometimes it's plain stubborn.
Sometimes it screams at you and
makes noises you don't approve of. Deep down you know it's not (always)
guitar's fault, but damn it's making life so difficult for you!
Sometimes you just don't understand it. The sex can get bland
and predictable - one moment
you're making sweet music with free flowing improvisation, the next
you're just not harmonising. Just
because Hendrix is known for giving his guitar multiple orgasms during
a given show, doesn't mean their relationship was always that peachy
behind the scenes.
Yes, that was another metaphor.
So learning guitar can, at times, feel like a struggle, especially with
life's many other committments taking up most of your time.
But it's also a wonderful journey of personal growth, adventure and
proud accomplishment. Just
make guitar one of your
commitments, "in sickness and in health". OK I'm done with
the marriage thing now. Remain open to learning, keep challenging
yourself and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
The point is, we (all of us) never stop learning guitar. Even guitar gods Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are still learning. I guarantee it.
Even Brian "still the hair" May. Ask him next time you see him. Sure,
they learned how to play C major a good while ago, but they are
still learning and growing as individual musicians.
Their relationship with the guitar is constantly evolving, and so will yours.
So What Are The Hardest Parts of Learning Guitar?
Going purely on questions and feedback from students - barre chords.
I've even read of players having nightmares about the dreaded F chord.
The dreaded F chord... which you will learn.
parts are the physical
parts. The pain. The stubbornness of
one's fingers. There is a thing called muscle memory, which is
basically the ability to finger chords and scales without need for
adjustment or much thought.
I personally had few problems with barre chords, but before I learned
barre chords I really struggled with chords like open C major and power chords. But persistence
eventually overcame those obstacles.
Good old persistence.
Be assured by the fact that squillions of guitarists have learned barre
chords. How long did it take them? Some people it'll take a month,
others a year. Again, the R word. How much time you're willing to put
in per day/week depends on how passionate you are about reaching your
I always tell my students to "learn at your own pace". Don't feel
rushed or anxious. There's no exam. Just take it easy, keep setting
yourself modest goals and shuffle towards them. If you get stuck I'm
happy to give you the guidance
Thanks to the internet, learning guitar is cheaper and easier than
ever. No more moving at the tutor's pace over your own, since you're
not technically "on a pay meter" like with private lessons.
More sophisticated online courses
like Jamplay offer a logical step by
step structure so all you need to do is go from one lesson to the next
on the list, right through to advanced playing.
Nothing I've said in this article is revelationary. But often people
need reminding that in life there are no easy rides, just ups and
downs (and "creamy middles", according to Homer J Simpson).
If you can take stock of your progress at any given point, and promise
yourself to not make
all that effort and progress in vain, keep building on
already know, keep moving forward and don't be afraid to ask more
experienced players (after all, they have ALL been where you are), you
are in for a very rewarding journey.
Guitar is a wonderful instrument and, although sometimes I feel
overwhelmed by certain tasks (e.g. a solo for my band's new song), deep
down I always relish the challenge and see it through, because it's an
amazing feeling when you nail it.
In a nutshell, the more of these challenges you overcome, the greater your perspective and the easier it
Good luck and may you have a long and fruitful marriage.