Whenever we start a new skill or endeavour there is a rush of excitement. But then a few months down the track we all stop practising. Why? In, how do I stay motivated to practice guitar, I want to explore how our minds work and give you a few strategies to beat the blues.
Well, it could be blues guitar if that is your musical love. But lets look at a list of ways to keep on enjoying and progressing in your guitar playing for years to come.
You are not stuck with any of the decisions you make today but you do need to start somewhere. As you grow, change and improve you will fine tune what works for you.
Motivated to Practice?
- Decide what sort of guitarist you want to be?
- How will I learn?
- Will you join a group or play alone?
- Will you learn songs?
- How much practice will you do?
- The secret to learning to love your guitar practice
1 – Decide what sort of guitarist you want to be
This may seem an obvious suggestion but trust me you need to decide at the beginning. Just imagine you are taking a road trip but you haven’t a destination. So, how will you know when you have reached there. Which sign posts will you follow? All it will do is confuse you and you can’t celebrate arriving!
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where—” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
You have a thousand choices of where you see yourself as a guitarist. Jump online and explore all the different guitarists you can. You can be a Rock Goddess, a Blues Diva or a Classical Queen. Plan to wow your friends with your finger-picking or slay them with gorgeous ballads that you wrote yourself. The choice is yours!
2 – How will you learn?
If you want to stay motivated to play, you need to get this decision correct. Otherwise, you will probably stop playing within a week. Ask yourself. Self? ‘Do I like learning with other people around me or do I prefer to do it alone?’ I personally am a loner and proud of it. If I’m learning something new, I would rather struggle and get frustrated in private. Over the 40 years I’ve been playing I’ve also had some private one on one lessons, which I enjoyed too.
You may be completely different. A group guitar lesson with a teacher once a week may keep you motivated, even when you are having a flat day. Yes! You will have days when you don’t want to play, everyone does. A little trick I use is to pretend I will do ‘just 10 minutes.’ This works about 90% of the time and I always play longer. I start and finish with a favourite song.
There are so many online guitar courses to choose from, so you will find one that you like. If, you also join their community, you can jump in and out of being with other guitarists whenever it suits you. Knowing that there are others on the journey with you, can help to keep you going. My favourite online lesson teacher is Guitar Mastery Method, which you can read about here in my article.
Your other option is to buy a course with DVD’s that you can play anytime that you want. This is terrific if you have terrible internet or move around a lot. They are always with you. Plus Steve Krenz has a community website that you can join in his Live lessons every fortnight and always chat with other guitarists. His course is the first one I ever bought and I still use it. You can read my about Learn and Master Guitar Review here.
3 – Will you join a group or play alone?
No, I’m not repeating myself. I want you to consider if you are planning to always be a solo guitarist or will you be planning to play with a group or band?
Making this decision now will help you practice towards a goal. Many famous guitarists started out playing solo and then they collected a band around the type of music they loved to play.
You can do this too. For some people the mere thought of playing in front of anyone else, would make them give up guitar at the beginning. For others, the drive to be able to play first basic chords and then lead, will encourage the practice to succeed.
I’ve played solo and with my own band and enjoy both. It is more demanding to play solo, as it is obvious if you screw up. But then the joy of making music with others and seeing the pleasure of the listeners can cancel out great shyness. Magic sometimes happens when you are playing with other guitarists, drummers and bass. This magic will motivate you to practice. Trust me!
4 – Will You Learn Songs?
Songs are the lifeblood of learning to play guitar. Never forget that! People from the dawn of time have been drawn to create music. Be that a drum beat or instruments and voice.
To stay motivated to practice guitar, I want you to choose two songs that you want to learn to play. First, a song that you would dream about playing brilliantly one day in the future. This is a song that inspires you. Every time you here it you hum along, tap your feet or want to get up and dance. It moves you emotionally. Only a strong emotion will remind you that you need to practice to reach this dream.
Second, now choose a really easy song. One with 3 or 4 chords, that you also love to hum along to. You have the whole internet to find the perfect song for you. It may be a ballad from childhood, a Beatles song, a Joan Baez or Carpenters song.
Songs will inspire you to learn and practice. Start slow, make it fun and do a little each day. Break the song into bite size pieces. Ask you teacher to suggest a song but only learn it if it moves you! Have a look at Mike Kennedy and his song selection. Just a few to get you started.
5 – How much practice will you do?
Now, I’m putting you on the spot! You have been through the ‘I’m so excited!’ stage. It’s time to decide a set amount of practice minutes, that you are willing to commit to on a regular basis. Why do I say regular? Because this is the secret to reaching your dreams.
Just for a moment think about all the regular things you do everyday to make your life work. You brush your teeth, shower, dress, sleep, eat, work ….. etc……. So, what is the big deal to add one more habit to your day to make a dream of yours come true. This is one gift of time that is yours alone to do something fun!
Start with 20 minutes, once a day, at a time that works for you. It may be just before bed or you might get up a little earlier to play on your back porch before you go to work. Create a space and time that you can look forward to playing your new guitar. Who knows where it may lead?
6 – The Secret to Learning to Love Practicing your Guitar
I’ve saved the best to last because if you have read this far, you deserve to know the real secret to loving to practice guitar. Here it is!
Seeing and Hearing Your Own Progress.
Never underestimate, how hearing yourself play that tricky chord for the first time or getting the first couple of bars of music under your fingers will make you feel. 40 years down the track I still get a thrill, when I can play a song I have wanted to learn. Some of these songs are over 40 years old, I used to sing them with my mum. Now, I can play them too!
Find that song that will thrill you, as you learn it bar by bar, day by day. You can achieve anything if you stick at it long enough. Practice doesn’t need talent, just tenacity.
Commit to your guitar journey. Make sure you know where you are heading, plan how you will get there and spoil yourself with little wins along the way to keep you going.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you have any questions about staying motivated or want to leave a comment below, please do.