Throughout practice time, do you get frustrated and start to wonder why playing seems to be so difficult for you? Do you ever wonder if your fingers will ever get used to hitting those notes, or perhaps if you have what it takes to be a musician at all?
When I was first learning guitar I had very similar questions. I would constantly question my abilities and wonder "Do I have enough talent to do this?" These days I hear the very same questions from my students, whether it is voiced out loud or portrayed in their lack of confidence. Honestly, it is rare for a musician not to have these concerns in the beginning. Actually, if you have never felt this way before than you should be busy practicing, not reading this article!
It is very unfortunate, but many people have given up on playing their instrument due to self-doubt. If you let these doubts and frustrations go unchecked, your practicing time is going to feel pretty unpleasant. You won’t be able to enjoy yourself, or enjoy what you play, if you let that voice in your head continue to tell you that you aren’t good enough. How can you have fun, or give yourself room to grow, if you only think about if you are talented or not?
So with that, I am going to let you in on a little secret: No one is born with natural talent. This might be hard to believe, but it has been proven to be true through not only my personal experience as a teacher and a player, but also by studies done on other creative and athletic fields.
With that being said, if you have bad joints you probably wouldn’t make a great weight lifter(due to the physical restrictions). And if you are 4 feet tall you probably don’t have a great chance of playing in the NBA. But as long as you have a brain and a few working fingers, there is no limit to how good of a guitar playing you can become.
Now, since we have debunked the importance of talent when playing guitar, what is important? Years of research tells us you must follow these 3 things to become a good player:
Playing The Guitar Must Be Fun To You
It seems obvious, but you need to actually enjoy playing the guitar if you want to get better at it. If you don’t like playing your instrument, then why are you playing at all? If you have fun with the guitar, practicing and playing every day won’t seem like such a chore.
While enjoying yourself is important, don’t be too hard on yourself when you run into a bad day. Even the greatest players have days where they don’t feel good enough. The key is to not let that stop you and remember that another good day is right around the corner.
Next time that self-doubt starts creeping in, just remind yourself why you started playing music in the first place; for fun. Much like learning guitar, this also will take practice.
You Have To Work At It
It takes more than vivid day dreaming to actually become a better musician. No one is a great player the first time they pick up an instrument. A lot of practice is required to feel comfortable with certain exercises and to get your ear hearing things in a melodic way.
Instead of viewing these roadblocks in a negatively, try to see them as exciting challenges. Try taking a recording of yourself playing through a passage the first time, and then compare it to what it sounds like after a couple weeks of practice. Nothing feels better than hearing those improvements in your playing.
I know it can sometimes feel overwhelming to think about where you are at with your playing now, and how long it might take to get where you want to be. But try to enjoy the process. Sure it takes a lot of hard work to get really good at playing guitar, but you like playing the guitar right? Hard work doesn’t have to be a drag.
Finding A Quality Teacher Is Essential
I can already hear a few you you furiously typing to tell me about that one incredible guitar player who never had a lesson in their life. I am sure you also want to tell me about the amount of practicing they never did, as well as the amount of theory books they never had to study.
Well heres the thing. When someone is getting praised for their remarkable musicianship, generally the first they want to talk about won’t be all the stressful nights it took to get them there. They want their playing to seem effortless (especially in a world that puts such high importance on natural ability).
Just think of the amount of time you could save if you had someone to teach you the proper techniques the first time? Teachers help you to skip the guess work when it comes to practicing. They keep you on your toes and keep you feeling compelled to practice each week. They also help you to accomplish things you never even knew we’re possible.
Keep in mind you don’t want to hire just anyone to be in charge of your musical education. You want someone that is not only knowledgable about music, but also about how to teach. It is worth it to take the time to find someone who is going to efficiently and effectively work with you to accomplish your musical goals.
As you can see now, there is no magical cheat to becoming a good player. Behind every successful musician is someone who stayed excited about what they were doing, clocked in the hours, and didn’t try to do everything by themselves. Not being talented enough is just a lame excuse people use for being lazy.
Maybe that sounds a little harsh to you, or maybe you are sitting there thinking about how you’ve heard this all before. But sometimes we need a little reality check in our playing to keep focused on whats important. I hope this article inspired you to get back in that practice room and get excited about playing again!