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How to Deal with Frustration when Learning Guitar

Learning how to play the guitar is a blast! Everything is a mystery and every day is a new revelation!

But learning and practicing guitar can also be frustrating. We need to understand that frustration is not something external, we create it ourselves. If we can create it, then we can surely beat it too.

You can call it lack of patience or in some cases lack of dedication. As guitar players, we find ourselves stuck, some days it feels good while on other days it just doesn’t.

Most beginners love their weekend practice sessions, until they realize after a few weeks that they are not making any progress, that they lack focus and decide to call it quits.

It’s because they forget their last lessons easily and the techniques learned never become second nature which leads to boredom and frustration. Some of them call it quits while others continue to follow the pattern.

Here are 4 frustrating pitfalls that you should avoid:

  • Don’t try to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Trying to learn too many things will psychologically mess you up. Instead, make sure you fully learn something before moving on. The thing you are learning (barre chords, scales, licks) should be second nature.
  • Don’t learn from guitar teachers or players that are only interested in showing off their skills. Guitar is not a competition. And these people will make you feel like it is. Which will make you feel bad about your playing and start the cycle all over again.
  • Don’t continue with the weekend sessions. Most beginners start that way and it is just not good enough. You must practice daily. No excuses. Otherwise you will lose interest, forget what you learned prior to last week, skip a session or two and all this will lead to inconsistency. Being inconsistent will lead to frustration. Fight it with passion. Don’t let that fire die down.
  • Stop comparing yourselves to others, especially your chosen idol. People like to talk about their skills and this can demotivate you or worse, frustrate you. Understand that everybody has to start somewhere, each one of us has a different learning speed, not all are made equal and you are not Slash! So take it easy on yourself and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

What you should do instead:

Playing and practicing are not the same. You may think you’re putting in a lot of hours on the guitar. But the real question is – are you really practicing or are you just playing?

You might know what I am talking about here. Playing guitar is just that – you play your guitar without learning new techniques or developing new skills. You just kind of refresh your old licks and songs.

Practicing on the other hand is when you learn something new, refine or rediscover something old; find a new meaning out of a long forgotten lick or perfecting that trick you picked up some time back. The idea is to keep moving forward.

(Quick Tip For Beginners: Your fingers are going to hurt and hurt like hell. But this is ok. This is normal. After sometime the skin will toughen up and your hands will get used to the pain. This is also called muscle memory. The human body is incredible!)

What is important is to remember why you are here. Is it because you eat, drink, and sleep music? Are you learning guitar to impress other people or are you learning to just get better?

Don’t lose sight of your goals. Always have a plan. This will help you fight frustration like nothing else. It will motivate you to work not only harder but also smarter.

And working smarter is the key to progressing faster on guitar!

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4 Comments  comments 

4 Responses

  1. Thank you for good post. I appreciate your work!

  2. Funny i just discovered for myself the marvelous revelation that i find here. PLAYING AND PRACTICING are two different things. Not but about a month ago a stumbled on an exercise. As I started working on it, i realized the difference and told everyone about it. The best piece of knowledge available, great article.

  3. Darly

    I’m trying to learn a song and I’m soloist rated cos I just can’t get it right

  4. Nancy Fisher Hartmann

    I’m a 58 year old female. I started lessons a year ago and the frustration is overwhelming. You are so right that it comes from WITHIN!!! I get anxious while at l lessons because I feel like I should have already gotten “it” by now. Honestly I just want to cry sometimes. I’ve thought about quitting when the going gets tough but I calm myself and carry on. I’ll say this, it’s made me me realize just how much practice has to go in before getting any better.

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