Do I need Musical talent to learn to play Guitar?

Talented woman playing Guitar

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question! Do I need musical talent to learn to play guitar?

Because it comes from someone who really dreams of playing but has doubts.

But you don’t need musical talent to play guitar, it’s a learnt Skill, you build it one step at a time.

Music is a tribal drive for most people. We love to share music with our family and friends. It can bond two strangers together in one night. Indeed, even cross social barriers in our ever shrinking world.

The truth is that anyone, and I mean anyone, can learn to play a guitar. But there are a few elements that have to be there from the start, to make magic happen.

  1. The desire must be so strong that you will keep at it until you succeed
  2. You have committed to finding a way, no matter the challenges
  3. You are willing to play for 15 minutes a day, at least 3 times a week
  4. You have a plan on how to learn and will stick to it.
  5. You will find a coach and a community
  6. You can close your eyes and see yourself playing. Practise the end result.
  7. You’ve decided to NOT listen to anyone else, this is your dream!

Is Talent Fact or Fiction?

So why should you believe me? Let’s look at the real world of musicians. Not all the guitarists you meet started playing as children, in fact, many started when they could afford their first guitar. There it is sitting in the corner, waiting for them to remember that dream and make a plan of action. No, really I’m joking!

Most of the best guitarists I know just say, “I wanted to play because it looked (cool, girls liked it, or I wanted to sing along) so I just started to play. They had a few lessons, asked friends and sat in and played along.

They didn’t think do I need musical talent to play, they just had a go. When they started, they probably sounded terrible, same chords, same rifts. The trick was that they just kept learning and playing because the dream in their heads was stronger.

Big things start in small ways. Take any sport or hobby. How long did it take to master that new skill? Did that person have a hidden talent or did they just love the idea of being good at an interest they had. Look at people around you who seem to have so called talent, their skills developed over time, sometimes over decades.

The secret ingredient!

Desire Black forest cake

DESIRE is what drives us. Every day in everything we do. From the moment we wake up to when we go to bed, desire drives us.

You need to find the trigger that will make you stop what you MUST do and just play. Even if it’s only a 15 minute lesson. A piece of music. One song. Or a few notes. or scale.

What are triggers for most of us?

You hear a song and it transports you, the words make you happy, above all it feeds your soul.

As a result, you walk to where your guitar is, sit and start noodling. It’s a simple chord but you like the way it sounds.

Consequently, you find the song you love on the internet. Google the chords and lyrics, the little chord chart shows you each chord and where to put your fingers. You learn the four chords for the song. All of a sudden, you’re playing your first song.

Finally, you try playing along with the original. Doesn’t sound too bad, maybe tomorrow you it will sound a bit better. You hum along as you play. Baby steps! Each one a challenge and a joy when achieved.

Are you smart enough?

Of course, you are! Did you learn to walk? Probably, pretty good at it by now. You stood up, fell down and tried again, until you mastered it. Was there some tears? Maybe. Any talent is worth working for and sweeter for the struggle. It might take you longer than you had hoped. You might want to give up but the determined will always win over the genius who quits.

Quitters never win, and winners never quit!

It’s amazing how much smarter you become when you practice a new skill until it becomes unconscious. As a result, you will surprise yourself how a little can go a long way.

I have small hands and short fingers?

Small hands of a little girl playing pink guitar
You are never too young to start learning guitar

This is a total misconception about playing guitar. People come in all shapes and sizes and so do guitars. Many famous guitarists have small hands.

There are hand exercises to help you stretch. Three-quarter size or children’s guitars. Also, it’s possible to play slide guitar across your lap.

There is always a way when the desire is strong enough. Spend half an hour looking at You Tubes of children playing or classical guitarists. Young woman holding rock guitars almost as big as they are.

Be flexible and make it work for you. One reason that is used for giving up, is that the strings really hurt the fingers when you first start  playing. True.

Until you build up some callous on your fingertips, it can really hurt playing a steel string guitar, depending on how much you play. Here’s a tip. Buy a nylon string guitar with a THIN neck to learn on, if the pain would put you off.

Most people think you can only buy nylon string guitars with 2 inch thick necks but that’s not true. Many guitars including the Cardoba have a thinner neck. Or a similar size to steel acoustic and electric guitars. Some electric guitars are the easiest guitars to push down the strings but the steel may still cut a little. Ask yourself if hurting fingers will make you quit, before buying your first guitar?

Intense focus of a little dog
You need to have moments of Intense Focus

What is natural talent?

It is Focus!

Natural talent as we all seem to recognise it, is when someone tries something new to them and just seems to pick up the details very quickly. This can be in any area of our lives and to be honest can really annoy you, if you’re not the one with the so called natural talent.

  • Let’s look at this logically. Why would someone  appear to be comfortable with a new skill?
  • Perhaps they grew up around someone who played guitar, so they noticed how they held their hands
  • Maybe their bodies, hands and arms are very flexible and seem to naturally curl around a guitar neck

In several fields I have trained in, I have noticed these people and they all have one talent that makes anything new seem to come easier. They really pay attention. You can see them working it out in their heads as they watch. They have developed the Art of Accelerated learning.

I will cover this in another post but think about it, How do you learn?

Learning how to learn is a skill that some people develop unconsciously through their lives, just by watching their parents, siblings and friends. Perhaps they learnt it in school or University. So you can too.

Fun and Application

Learning isn’t all fun but if you create a plan that fits your personality and goals, you will be motivated to

practise. Focused practise, planned practise, even if it is for 15 minutes a day will help you reach your goal.

learn slowly, study. Young woman playing guitar with computer to watch
Starting at any age can be fun and easy
  • What you need to do is find the coach that suits you, they could be online or someone in your local town.
  • Make sure you are confident that they can teach you at a pace that works for you.
  • Take notes on what you learn and track your progress.
  • Learn slowly and gradually speed it up
  • Have a set routine for practise, this could include playing your favourite song just before you pick up your guitar. This will inspire you.
  • Play and sing along with your favourite songs
  • Ask your instructor for chords for these songs
  • Take control of your journey and remember there will be good days and bad days.

You might enjoy reading about an awesome course that I have used for 8 years. Steve Krenz, who lives in Nashville, teaches Guitar live on the internet and through his DVD Course.

Last but not least is have FUN, it will keep you going long enough to BUILD a talent.

Mistakes are good, that’s how we learn. So ‘Fail forward and you’ll succeed.’

Please feel free to contact me or make a comment.

Lily

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18 thoughts on “Do I need Musical talent to learn to play Guitar?”

  1. Learning guitar is just a matter of passion and maybe vary small level of professional training too to become an expert but everything majorly is from personal training I play guitar and I just simply leanrt it by myself without anybody’s help. I developed the skills by buying a guitar and playing it consistently with full focus and desire to be better at it. Though I admit that I watched a lot of tutorials online from great guitarists giving examples and tutorial videos. However, talent too is an option. Someone might have a talent in it due to their passionate and focus and desire to know it while others might just be out of constant practise. The key is just to practise with passion and to keep on getting good at it. I play it though I have short fingers but that doesn’t deter me, rather it helps me to find my unique ways of playing. Great post!

    Reply
  2. The image of my little girl kept coming to my head as I read through this post. She sings very well and out of the love for singing she desires to learn to play a guitar. Her elder brother, my son play the drum for her and now she wants to learn how to play guitar but her fingers are pretty small and its heart breaking to us as he always want the big guitar and nit the small ones. Reading this post have given me an insight as to how I can help her with it. Thanks for this really nice post

    Reply
    • I’m delighted this helped, as the whole website is aimed at girls and women wanting to learn guitar.  You’ve made my day. Thank you for reviewing my post and good luck with your daughter. 

      Please let me know if I can help in any way further. 

      Reply
  3. I don’t have a guitar, but from a young age, I really liked the idea of playing. A cousin of mine played the guitar from a young age and still plays amazing. He did not deal professionally, however. I believe that it is enough to really want it and even if you do not have the talent your desire and your appetite for that is enough to push you to write in a chamber. This is what I’m going to ask my daughter when she grows up if she says to me that she wants to learn a musical instrument and especially a guitar that I always adore. Thanks for the encouraging and eye-opener article.

    Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it and that your daughter might have the joy of playing one day.

      Please contact me if I can help down the track with more information for your lovely girl. 

      Lily 

      Reply
  4. Fun and focus. Wow, this are really good ingredients to learn whatever. I have also liked music from I was going but never learnt due ti some reasons, I really like the guitar.and I love people that can play them. You have given answers to all the misconceptions that surrounds playing the guitar. I think I should give it a go myself. Thank you  for the little inspiration.

    Reply
  5. I love playing the guitar 🎸 and I started playing with music because I was a singer but stopped playing when I was 20 years old but I am thinking of buying a guitar and starting to play so you have where I can find reasonable ones? And how do I find a coach I live in Italy but would love an English Speaking Coach.

    I hope to hear from you and looking forward to more information on how to pick up my guitar and start playing again because the desire is still there.

    Reply
    • You are very kind Cinderella and we will chat and find you a new guitar and coach online. It’s time to be a joyful guitarist singer again. You need a caring community to support you.  Take a look at my review of guitargathering.com  it could be perfect for you.

      Chat soon,

      Lily 

      https://aussiemuso.com/the-10-cheapest-guitars-for-beginners/

      I’ve just written a blog on guitars that might interest you Cinderella.Buying a guitar is like buying perfume, so very personal. I have 4 guitars that I play for different styles of music. A nylon String Cordoba for classical and Jazz, an Ovation with steel strings for onstage bright strumming music, another steel string to take to the beach and a solid body electric guitar for learning rock and lead on.
      Once you have decided what sort of music you wish to play then you will be able to decide.
      Here’s to an exciting time re starting your guitar playing.
      Hope this helps.

      Lily

      Reply
  6. I am a huge fan of music and the guitar is my favourite instrument to play and I couldn’t agree with you less about you not needing a musical talent to play guitar because it is a learnt Skill which you build one step at a time.

    Just like every other thing in life, all you need to excel in music is a strong desire and your ability to enjoy what you are doing. Of course you have to be smart and focused to enable you play the guitar perfectly. 

    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring and informative post. I always have fun playing the guitar and anyone that follows your tips will definitely enjoy doing same. 

    Thanks once again.

    David!

    Reply
  7. I have always wanted to play at least one musical instrument, but have never had the guts to go out there. I always feel like I will have to sing when I play, which is something I cannot do to save my life.

    I am glad that you have confirmed it is a learnt skill. I will just have the courage and step into a class and learn the guitar. Thank you for the reminder that I should have a plan and stick to it. I cannot wait to be in that place where I will be playing the guitar without even looking at the strings.

    Thank you for your encouragement in this great article. Much appreciated!

    Reply
    • I’m delighted that it has inspired you Carol. Skip the singing and enjoy the playing. Making music for pleasure is the key.

      Something just for you to enjoy. 

      Let me know if I can help in any way. 

      Lily 

      Reply
  8. Hi, thanks! What you say here is very true. I decided to start learning guitar back in 2011. And I did it more through consistent practice. I don’t think I had any innate guitar skills that anyone else wouldn’t have. I definitely had a way of practicing things through repetition though. I used to do these chord-changing “drills” over and over and of course scales. If I wanted to learn a song I started slow on a metronome and built up the speed. 

    When I started guitar I didn’t know how to follow a rhythm. But some how it clicked and I learned it. That was a fun time. Being able to follow a rhythm for the first time in my life. 

    So I agree with you! Even if someone doubts their innate guitar skills, as long as they are able to practice consistently, they will get it. The guitar really opened up for me within about a year of practicing that way. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. I love music and I would love to play a guitar, 

    I’m happy I found your website, many years ago I started to play a guitar, but I was busy with school and other things so I stopped it.

    Now I have time and I would love to learn how to play it, as you said there’s nothing that can stop you if you’re really interested, not my small hands and fingers or not even I’m terrible at signing.

    Having fun at it and focus on it, I might get it this time. I will bookmark your website to come back, as I’m interested to learn to play a guitar. 

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Alejandra,

      Definitely have a try. You might find picking a simple song that you love, to learn first will keep you motivated.  Sounds like a small body, nylon string with a narrow neck might make learning fun for you.

      I will be doing a review on guitars and other courses very soon. 

      Let me know if I can help in any way. 

      I’ll be writing more posts, I hope you enjoy them.

      Regards, 

      Lily 

      Reply

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