What pitfalls should I avoid as a beginning student?

As I wrote down the usual list of items that teachers tend to discuss when asked this question, I realized that most of them, if not all, could be lumped into a single category: Impatience. Perhaps this is a bit of my trying to lump a lot of stuff into a small and neat package, but I think that it is impatience, however it might be disguised, is at the root of a lot of frustration, for guitarists and many other people as well.

Think about it. In our brains, we can easily understand that, having picked up the guitar all of a week, month or year ago, we’re certainly not in the league of our favorite guitar idol. And, again in our brains, we pretty much know that couldn’t be otherwise.

But time after time we curse ourselves for not being as good as we could be. Of course, the “good as we could be” is often not rooted in much reality. I’ve discussed this in numerous articles in the past, such as If I Only Had… and I think, unfortunately, the whole concept of learning as a process, and a process to b treasured at that, is in danger of being lost.

And that, to me anyway, is the real problem: that our desire to be perfect, and instantly perfect at that, steals the joys and pleasures of learning from us.

This is one of the main reasons that I teach. I know that probably more than ninety-nine percent of my students are not going to become professional guitarists. But I fully intend that one hundred percent are going to be able to enjoy making whatever music pleases each of them.

It’s been said millions of times before and much more eloquently than I could ever hope to say it, music is not a competition. Making it so tends to bring about the frustration that most musicians feel and that frustration usually revolves around one’s impatience with the learning process.

You’re going to be playing music for the rest of your life. Take the time to enjoy and savor each moment of the trip. It’ll make you happier and, believe it or not, it will make you work harder at getting better. That’s what life’s all about.