December 11, 2023

Guilty Guitar

“I didn’t get to play as much as I’d hoped this week.”

This is the most common thing any student says to me at the beginning of each lesson.

Seriously, this is said by almost every student that arrives at my studio. No one ever seems to feel they’ve done enough playing to justify the lessons. And this applies to everything we do.

We are in a constant state of guilt. Whether it’s to do with our careers, children, health, relationships… We never seem to match up to our own ridiculous expectations.

So how does this affect us as guitar students? (I’m still a student and always will be)

Our state of mind is so important and most of us never even consider it. It’s important for us to be calm and relaxed when learning. Also to be non judgemental. We allow ourselves to make many mistakes… We gently guide ourselves through. We take away the unrealistic standard of immediate perfection and simply observe our own practice. Think about it… Are we ever at our peak when frustrated? During that frustrated angry moment, are we able to perform better or worse?

For those of you thinking you use frustration to drive you, are you still in that feeling when you are getting results? Or did you snap out of it just before you started your session?

When you are completely relaxed, you are in ‘the zone’. This is the ultimate condition for playing and learning to your fullest potential.

When we are away from our guitar and getting on with our day to day reality, that nagging voice saying “you should really be playing more guitar” will pop into your consciousness and let you know how useless and lazy you are.

It’s important to have realistic expectations during the week, so you remain guilt free.

Now it’s worth mentioning here, I’m not advocating you don’t need discipline and self control… I’m actually encouraging more discipline and self control, but who ever decided it had to be hard work and not fun? Learning guitar should be fun and exciting, challenging but never ‘hard work’. If it’s hard work, you are doing it wrong!

Here are some easy guidelines to help keep you in a good headspace:
  1. Set realistic targets for practice time – example: pick it up everyday and play something.
  2. Observe yourself without judgement.
  3. When you feel the frustration beginning, stop! Breathe, play something different. Get into a calm zone.

Here’s to calm and relaxed guitar practice my fellow Guitar Freaks!

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