5 things learning to play guitar and breaking bad life habits have in common
Whether you are trying to break bad habits in your life or not, this article can be useful to you if you are thinking about (or already) learning how to play guitar. I have purposefully connected two things that seemingly have nothing to do with one another, in order to get you to think about guitar playing from a different perspective, and hopefully have some interesting realizations!
If you ask 100 people you know if they have ever thought about learning how to play guitar, you can be sure dozens of them will at least have entertained the thought, many will have started once, a few will actually be quite good at it and only a handful will be truly accomplished guitar players (except if you tend to hang out a lot with musicians or professional guitar players, of course J ).
Guitar playing is like breaking bad habits: most people seem to think it is a cool thing to do, but only a few actually have the drive that will make them persevere until things truly work out. There is a big difference between “wishing one could play guitar”, “wanting to play guitar” and “being totally committed to learning how to play guitar”.
A lot of people sit down once in a while (usually on a weekend or a day off), practice their guitar for hours, then don’t pick it up for a week or more and repeat the same thing again. While this is much better than not practicing at all, a much more efficient way to practice would be to pick up the guitar for as little as 15 minutes per day , but do it consistently.
The brain learns much better that way, the calluses on your fingers remain firm and your brain gets in a routine. In addition, playing the guitar becomes part of your everyday life and you start thinking about it more during the day, practicing in your mind, coming up with new creative ideas etc.
If you dread the moment you have to pick up your guitar to start practicing and if you don’t truly enjoy it, you will never keep practicing consistently, and even if you did, there wouldn’t be much point to it because it wouldn’t be fun.
On days when you don’t feel like practicing, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just pick up your guitar and start playing something you like, to get you in the mood. You will then be warmed up and will be much more likely to want to practice other things.
Everyone has their own way of learning how to play guitar. Just like your favorite auntie might be a fan of recycling, your partner’s father might pride himself on using an electrical car or using eco-saving light bulbs.
There are general principles that must be respected and applied in order to learn efficiently how to play guitar. A competent teacher will be one who knows about these principles and is able to tailor them to every individual for maximum fun and optimum progress.
So do not look for “universal” guitar methods or courses where nothing is customized to your learning style, your goals, your needs and your preferences. Instead, find someone who can take a real interest in what you want to achieve and in what motivates you, and follow the tailor-made learning plan they design for you!
No one will ever sit down for hours every week with a guitar and keep doing that for years without strong, compelling reasons. To find out what are the reasons that drive you to play guitar, ask yourself questions like “how will I feel once I play the guitar like I want to?”, “how do I feel when I play?”, “how would I feel if I never learned how to play the guitar like I want to?”.
If you truly ask yourself these questions, you will find that your reasons for playing the guitar are connected to deep emotions you’re hoping to get out of it. If you constantly connect yourself to these emotions by imagining how you will feel when you play what you want to play, you will have endless motivation to keep practicing and it will always be fun!
As you can see, breaking bad habits and guitar playing share fundamental principles and if you apply them, you will enjoy your practice much more and your progress will skyrocket!
About the author
Matthieu Delage is the director of the Escuela de Guitarra de Madrid, which is considered as providing some of the best guitar lessons in Madrid. It uses a proven method which has produced significant results for many guitar students.
Matthieu es el director de la Escuela de Guitarra de Madrid, donde se imparten unas de las mejores clases de guitarra en Madrid. Usa un método probado, que ha producido importantes resultados para muchos alumnos.