Four Things That Kill Your Guitar Playing Progress

Jun27

Do you have a hard time improving your guitar playing and wonder how to make your guitar practicing more effective than it is? Perhaps you have tried various things to achieve this goal, such as attempting to practice more or trying to inspire yourself to be more motivated to practice guitar with greater intensity. However you have probably discovered (just as other guitar players have found) that doing these things is not going to be enough by itself to make you the guitar player you want to be.

The truth is that guitar players who consistently make progress as musicians all have similarities in their underlying approaches to practicing guitar (to find out more about what these similarities are, watch this free video on how to learn guitar playing). In addition (just as importantly), there are several traits that guitar players who have a hard time progressing also share in their approaches to guitar practicing that restrict them from reaching their guitar playing potential.

In this article I want to tell you some of the typical reasons why so many guitarists are unable to improve their musical skills. If you work on your guitar playing every day but are still not playing at the level that you want, consider if any of the guitar practice problems listed below apply to you. If you can relate to any of the situations described here, you have found a major clue that will help you to become a better guitar player than before.

Guitar Practice Mistake #1: Obsessing About “˜How Long’ It Takes To Become A Better Guitarist

A lot of musicians, especially those who just recently started studying with a teacher, spend a lot of time asking questions similar to the following: “How long does it take to develop into a great musician?”

Even though it is normal to be preoccupied with this issue in the beginning of your guitar playing life, investing too much time into this question will only slow your rate of improvement as a musician and will make you miss the exact steps you need to take to get the result you want. This happens because the process of learning to play guitar depends not on the length of time that has transpired since you started to practice your instrument but rather on how well you used that time. The maxim: “It’s not the time you spend, it’s how you spend the time” applies to this issue perfectly.

Obsessing over “the amount of time” it takes for you to develop a set of guitar playing skills will often – without you realizing it – move your attention from focusing on making your guitar practice sessions more productive to simply ‘waiting’ for a certain date on the calendar to arrive, hoping to reach your goals by that time. Simply put, time spent obsessing is time not spent practicing.

Instead of making the mistake above, your energy should be directed on making every moment you practicing guitar become highly productive. It’s only after your guitar practice sessions become extremely effective that time you spend with your instrument will begin to matter.

Guitar Practice Mistake #2: Paralyzing Yourself With Too Many Choices

Guitar players today have a very easy time with finding lots of guitar playing exercises, tab lessons and videos. Everything is only a click away. However, the irony of the situation is such that the number of truly great guitar players in the world (and the rate at which musicians progress) has not gone up, despite the advancements in technology. Why is this so?

The reason why the above problem exists is because this overabundance of information leads to one of two outcomes:

  1. Guitar players start to move from one set of guitar playing materials to another with no idea whatsoever about how doing so will help them to advance their guitar skills.
  2. Guitar players become paralyzed by the overload of choices and different guitar learning paths to take and are unable to come to a decision about ‘what’ steps to take next to move forward in their guitar playing. In each of the situations described, your guitar playing will improve much slower than it could otherwise.

Top guitar masters know how to prevent the above issues by staying with a consistent approach to developing their musical skills and know how to filter out all but the most essential guitar practice materials that are needed to overcome their musical challenges. This is the key that helps them to avoid this common mistake.

To learn how you can do the same in your musical training and become a much better guitarist more quickly, watch this free lesson (on video) on how to learn guitar playing.

Guitar Practice Mistake #3: Not Relying On Yourself Enough

The first two mistakes you’ve read about often apply to guitarists who are self-taught. On the opposite end of the spectrum, lack of “self-sufficiency” is very widespread among musicians who take guitar lessons with a teacher. This concept means understanding the very obvious fact that only you are the person in charge of your own guitar playing progress (or lack of it). Although having a guitar teacher is a great way to make faster progress in your playing, it is not a replacement for the fact that “you” must take the actions needed to get to where you want to be as a musician.

All of that being said, “relying on yourself” does not mean to be skeptical of everything your guitar teacher says or believe that you know more about playing guitar than your teacher. Obviously if “did” know more than your teacher, you wouldn’t be the one taking guitar lessons, would you? However, taking responsibility for your own guitar playing progress does mean to take your own initiative with getting the most out of whatever resource you use to improve your guitar playing.

It also implies making an honest effort at discovering the answer to your musical questions by thinking about the issue before asking for extra help. The idea is to “balance” relying on yourself with knowing when to ask for help if you are truly stuck. If you do this on a regular basis, you will achieve the best of both worlds: you will progress more quickly in your guitar playing and you will also avoid developing a feeling of dependency on any single guitar learning resource.

All great guitarists apply this concept of “balancing” the two traits mentioned above and that is a big part of what helps to continuously progress in their guitar playing. On the other hand, those guitar players who have a hard time progressing in music often do not have this quality well developed.

Guitar Practice Mistake #4: Not Being Patient

After you discover the secrets to effective guitar practicing, it will get easier to progress more quickly as a musician. Nonetheless, it is equally important to realize that at some point there is no way to speed up the rate of your progress to a level faster than is natural.

This is exactly the same as the process a gardener goes through when placing a seed into the ground in the hopes of someday seeing it develop into a fruit tree. No matter how much the gardener attempts to speed up the process of the seed blossoming into a tree, there are some stages of growth that cannot be sped up past a certain point. This analogy applies perfectly to becoming a better guitar player.

Sadly, too many guitarists do not realize the true importance of patience in the process of improving their musical skills. As a result, many become frustrated too quickly and start doubting their potential to improve if they do not see results by some arbitrarily set deadline. When the unrealistic results are not achieved quickly, this leads to even more negative mindsets that will only discourage you from practicing guitar.

To overcome this problem, realize that the journey to becoming a great guitar player is a never-ending process and you have your entire life to develop your musical skills. This is the first step to clearing your mind enough to have the energy needed to practice guitar effectively.

If you want more advice on how to practice guitar like the best guitarists do, start by watching this free video on how to learn guitar playing. This video will help you to understand the ideas from this article on a deeper level and will enable you to know with greater clarity what steps you need to take right now to greatly improve your skills on guitar. By taking advantage of the guitar practice approaches that great guitarists have in common, while avoiding the mistakes that the majority of musicians typically make you will move towards your goals much faster than you ever thought possible.

About Mike Philippov

Mike Philippov is a professional musician, music instructor and composer. He writes articles about learning and practicing guitar that are published on websites around the world. On his website http://PracticeGuitarNow.com you can find many more guitar practice articles and advice about becoming a better guitar player.

Comments [11]

  1. Excellent article! I think #3 is where a lot of beginner players fall behind. Taking lessons is one thing, but the magic happens IN BETWEEN the lessons! Great advice.

    • You’re so right! I see this difference with my own students. You can really tell the ones who practise in between the lessons more often, and work on their own initiative in combination with tuition.

  2. Great article. Really well-written, not only applies to guitar playing but life.

  3. fantastic article. Thank you for this. This is exactly what I have been stuck with. I am a high intermediate player but have been increasingly frustrated with being stuck, and I think at least 3 of the 4 apply to me. Thanks again

  4. Yeah as a self taught beginner ,i can’t really choose how to proceed .As i like most of the fingerstyle guitar playing but i also like metal sweep pikcing .so guess what, i m practicing both of them at the same time .Yeah progress is slow but i think as long as i m doing it my way i m happy with the progress

  5. For me #4 has always been a problem for me, in the way that I try to blaze through a lick at a speed I’m just not ready for, then I’ll do it again and wonder why I can’t get it. Well after I take a breath and go through it slowly, then I can start to get it right. Thanks for the article

  6. i think for me its probably number 4 although to a lesser extent as i progress

  7. Hey i agree with many of the principles here. Especially the part about quality over quantity with regards to practicing. The brain learns best when it is fully engaged in an activity, so noodling away while watching the tv doesn’t really work.

  8. Practice. Just practice the right things within appropriate time and you will see the progress :)

  9. 1st point reminds me very much of my gr8 teacher, i miss him n his lessons? Sum1 ask dat question 2 my teacher wud b his last day with my teacher ;D
    My teacher not only teaches music, once he told me that he has 32 hours a day n not 24; so he practice more then ny other. I was wndered but he was quick 2 tell me, u lost 8 hrs in sleep sleep only 5 n 3 is urs to practice…u ppl here are like my teacher u cover all aspects into becoming a musician! Gr8!

  10. 4 d 2nd point, to learn is easy but to unlearn is hard! Its nice u ppl make aware this to us the budding guitarist!

Leave a Comment

*