Why do so many guitarists fail at becoming truly great players? It’s not because they aren’t naturally gifted, don’t practice enough or lack passion for music. It’s because they possess many ‘fears’ that hold them back and prevent them from ever taking big steps to improve their playing. Worst part is, you may be suffering from these same fears as well (even without consciously realizing it). If so, it will take you many years to become a significantly better guitarist UNLESS you take action to break free from your fears. To stop holding yourself back from becoming a better player, you must learn how to identify and overcome these fears.
Here are the usual kinds of fears that hold guitar players back and what you must do to overcome them:
Fear Of Failure
A lot of guitar players assume from the start that they simply don’t have what it takes to achieve major musical goals. If you fear that you are unable to learn guitar exactly as you’d like, the following will occur:
- You stop creating goals for yourself that truly inspire you and start settling for achievements that seem more ‘realistic’.
- You spend increasingly more time practicing things that are easy/you have already mastered rather than things that will push you to become a much better guitarist.
- Since you only set smaller goals, you will never reach your full musical potential. You will be more likely to give up at the first sign of challenge because you believe you are just ‘not good enough’.
The main problem with being afraid of failing is that you focus so much on it that you ‘manifest’ failure into your reality. In other words, you move towards failure by being ‘afraid’ of it! To eliminate the fear of failure and make fast progress on guitar, do this:
- Think only about the things you ‘want’ to achieve in your guitar playing at all times. Know that you will always come across challenges while trying to accomplish big goals. Also, all obstacles can be surpassed. If you’ve been having a hard time playing something, it’s not that you lack musical ability – you just need to take a different approach. Alter your approach and get a new outcome.
- Identify the precise goals you want to achieve for guitar/music, and create a plan that will help you reach them. Then don’t quit until you’ve become the guitar player you want to be. Begin by using the strategy in this article about achieving guitar playing goals.
It will be much less difficult for you to overcome your fear of failure when you work together with a superior guitar teacher who knows exactly what you need to do to reach your musical goals. I’ve taught many students over the years to reach very big musical goals in spite of the fact that they feared (at first) ‘not having what it takes’ to reach them. To best help them, I spent a great deal of time coaching them to raise their confidence and believe in themselves. This changed the way they viewed improvement in their guitar playing and helped them make huge progress in little time. Many of these students have gone on to become great guitar players who I’m proud to have taught.
Fear Of Being Too Old To Become A Great Guitarist
A lot of guitar players contact me on a yearly basis to ask me if they are too old to get good at guitar. Generally speaking, these people are under the false assumption that they can’t become great guitarists because their favorite guitarists were much better than they are at a much younger age. This causes the student to ‘lose hope’ and give up on doing the things that would take his/her playing to a higher level.
This is what I tell them every time (and what I am telling YOU right now):
Age is just a concept. Guitar players do not fail because they are younger/older than another guitarist. You only fail when you give up on doing whatever is required to achieve your musical goals. Instead of creating a made-up barrier for yourself called ‘age’, focus your mind on learning the skills needed to achieve your guitar playing goals, use effective practice methods to apply them and make consistent time in your day to practice guitar. By correctly practicing the skills needed to reach your goals, you WILL learn to play whatever you desire (regardless of your age). Check out this article about using the correct guitar exercises to find out more.
I’ve taught a lot of students who thought they were ‘too old’ to become great guitar players, and without exception, whoever believed what I wrote above made INFINITELY faster progress toward their goals than those who did not.
Fear Of Personal Attack/Being Criticized
In many cases, guitar players will go to great lengths to avoid being put in situations where they could be criticized by others because it would make them feel bad about their playing. This often causes them to intentionally avoid any opportunities for constructive and helpful feedback they could get that would greatly help them become better players.
Here is an example that perfectly illustrates how this fear holds guitar players back: Each year I hold powerful guitar training events where guitar players fly across the world to train with me for many hours per day, several days straight. This results in MASSIVE improvement in all areas of their guitar playing. However, each time I hold this event, there are also many students who convince themselves not to come because they are afraid of what others would think about their playing (I can clearly see this by reading a flood of emails that these people send me in the weeks/months leading up to the event). By letting their fear of being criticized get the best of them, these students miss a huge opportunity to become vastly better guitar players and continue to suffer the confidence of giving in to their fear, rather than facing it head on.
Even for advanced guitar players, fear of criticism can get in the way of major accomplishments. A lot of times, great players will procrastinate on releasing their debut album because they are chasing ‘perfection’ out of the fear that someone might think their playing isn’t good enough. As a result, they never grow from these kinds of musical experiences.
To overcome this fear, do the following:
- Understand that the best way to improve as a musician is to force yourself into situations where you are challenged to get better. All great players go through these situations on a regular basis.
- Know that perfection is something to strive for, but not something you can ever truly attain. Making mistakes is a very important part of growing as a musician. Rather than avoiding mistakes, accept them and use them as an opportunity to learn how you can get better.
- Gain a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a guitarist so you know the actions you must take to improve. Get started by completing this free guitar playing skills assessment.
Fear Of Playing In Front Of Other People
It is very difficult for many guitarists to overcome the fear of playing in front of others. You might be able to play something easily while playing alone in your room, but when others are watching, you might not even be able to play a single note correctly due to things like uncontrollable ‘nerves’, sweaty hands or a sudden lapse in memory. Worst of all, when you fear playing in front of others, you will generally avoid doing it – this means you will never gain valuable experiences for your musical growth, such as playing songs with other musicians, playing with a killer band or performing live for an audience.
To overcome this fear, you must let go of the idea that people are waiting for you to make a mistake so they can ‘make fun of you’ or judge you harshly. Truth is, people who watch you play are usually NOT thinking about you, they are thinking about themselves. They wish they had your talent and the ‘guts’ to play in front of other people. Most will never even notice your mistakes unless you point them out yourself.
Rather than worry about the negative things people might say/think about you as you are playing, think of every time you play for others as a chance to improve your performing ability (NOT a one-time only shot to play perfectly). For instance, if you have shaky hands due to nervousness, make it your ‘practice’ to try to reduce this every time you play for other people by physically tracking your results on a piece of paper. By doing this, you remove the focus from other people and place it on getting better for yourself. As you do this, you will become more and more comfortable with performing over time.
Discover additional ways to relax while playing in front of others by reading this article about overcoming stage fright.
Now that you know how to get beyond the fears that prevent you from becoming a great guitar player, it’s time to apply the information in this article and improve your guitar skills. Get started right now by taking this mini course about reaching musical goals.