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The Mental Side Of Learning Guitar
By Paul Kleff

Most guitar instruction focuses entirely on showing you how to “do things” on the guitar.  Learning guitar technique and the correct way to practice is crucial to your development and progress on the guitar.  Guitar players (especially beginners) often overlook the mental side of becoming a great musician.

Learning how to stay motivated when you are frustrated, when you feel like you are stuck and not making progress is just as important as learning to play chords, scales, songs and solos.  All guitar players have to learn how to think in ways that will help them push through those times of doubt and struggle so that they can become great musicians.

Times of frustration are actually good—they are an indicator that you care deeply about becoming a great guitar player.  They also mean that you are challenging yourself as a musician.  It’s impossible to get impatient and frustrated with yourself if you are not pushing your playing skills.

How do you keep moving thorough those times where you feel like your playing is stagnating and your motivation is low?  Let’s look at some ways that you can get your mind and motivation back on track.  Changing your thoughts will get you through and keep you progressing forward.

1. Remember that the feeling of frustration is temporary.  All musical challenges are temporary.  Do you remember when you first started playing guitar?  The things that seemed difficult (or impossible) then are simple for you now.  The current source of your frustration is temporary—you can get through it.  Stay on the path of your practice plan.  It’s temporary and you will get through it.
2. Divide your musical challenges into smaller tasks.  Is there a specific passage in a piece of music that you can’t get smooth?  Look critically at it—is there a way to break it down into even smaller pieces?  For example—a twelve-note lick in a solo can be broken down into a series of two note phrases.  No matter how complex the lick is, you can play two notes of it.  Learn each two note part, then put them all together.
3. Do shorter practice sessions.  Take the small pieces from point number two and practice them for short periods of time so that you can completely focus your practice.  Just a few minutes at a time spent working on a single part of a song.  It is much easier to keep your focus for short periods—concentrate on the task at hand and don’t worry about the big picture.  Stay in the moment and just do your work.
4. Focus on how you will feel when you can play the part that is giving you trouble. Close your eyes and picture (and hear) yourself playing the song or solo you want to play.   Imagine how you will feel when you can play it—feel the accomplishment.  Visualize it.  Know that if you stay on the path and follow the steps you WILL get there.

Use these techniques when you are going through a rough spot.  Know that it is temporary and you will get through it.  Make it easy on yourself to get through it.  You have to stop being your worst critic and just focus on the work you need to do. You are not alone, we all struggle.  All of your guitar heroes struggled as well.  Change your thinking and your actions and the results will follow.

Get the best guitar lessons in Grand Rapids that will help you learn to play the guitar the fastest and easiest way possible.  Guitar lessons with Paul Kleff will show you the best way to practice so that you can become a great guitar player—fast.