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.
- The desire must be so strong that you will keep at it until you succeed
- You have committed to finding a way, no matter the challenges
- You are willing to play for 15 minutes a day, at least 3 times a week
- You have a plan on how to learn and will stick to it.
- You will find a coach and a community
- You can close your eyes and see yourself playing. Practise the end result.
- 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 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?
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?
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.
- 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.