Do you feel your guitar playing is not improving at all? Moreover, do you feel you’re actually getting WORSE at playing guitar?
Trust me – all guitar players have been there. I remember myself, when I started feeling bored just by hearing myself playing guitar. It’s like you get stuck at one point.
You start to feel so bored and all of the motivation you had at the beginning starts to fade away.
Luckily, there are solutions. And if you think about the fact that all of the great guitar players had their moments of despair, you might as well start feeling optimistic about it.
Here, in this article, I’m going to give you the tips that worked for me. I’m sure it will work for you, as well.
Let’s go through each, one by one!
1. Take A Break
This is the first and the most important tip to take. Take a break from playing guitar. Leave your guitar in another room. Don’t even think about it for some time.
It may be a day or two – or even a week. It doesn’t matter really, as long as you’re not playing it. Why does this work?
When you get stuck at some point, you start to feel frustrated. When you’re a frustrated, nothing comes easy. It’s the general rule. Don’t do anything that’s not necessary when you’re frustrated.
And because you’re frustrated because you’re not improving at playing guitar, you should take the source of the frustration away from you – for some time.
You’ll be surprised when you realize that this works. I know it may be tempting to keep on playing and playing all along, but trust me – this is the most effective way to overcome this barrier.
If you start to notice that not only you don’t improve, but you actually start to feel you’re getting worse at playing guitar – your body is sending you a signal.
Your body is telling you to stop. Your muscle memory is becoming overcrowded, and it takes a time to release the tension. Your mind is telling you to continue, but you can’t achieve anything if your body as a whole stops listening.
Therefore, taking a break for a few days will allow your body and muscles to recuperate enough.
2. Do Something Else You’re Good At
Now that you’ve just took a break from a guitar, it’s time to do something else, to fulfill the time you spent on playing guitar.
Start doing something you’re good at, or at least something that makes you feel good. For example, you can read a book. You can exercise, or you can start solving a Sudoku.
Anything you do that makes you feel good, that makes you feel you’re progressing in something is necessarily going to make you more confident.
I like to read books. When I read books, I think about different things. When I think, some new ideas come to my mind. That makes me feel like I’m progressing at thinking, in general. Therefore, I’m feeling more and more confident, as long as I read something new and think about what I’ve just read afterwards.
You can start solving some puzzles. Feeling of solving something is a rewarding feeling, and it makes you more confident.
So, the bottom line is this: Do something that will make you more confident.
When you’re more confident, you’re surely play guitar, or learn to play something new, much easier than before. When you’re not feeling that confident, everything you try to learn on your guitar will come hard.
That’s the basic rule. It all starts in the head. Confidence is a precondition for results!
3. Play Something New
If you’re getting stuck at some particular technique you’re trying to learn on your guitar – play something new!
Our brain doesn’t like to focus on just one thing. It’s too frustrating for us just to focus on one thing. Choose something else you have never played on a guitar.
For example, if you like to play metal on your guitar, why don’t you start to play jazz?
That’s just one option but, believe me, it helps. Playing something you’ve never played before will be interesting to your brain. Sometimes, our brains get bored with doing the same over and over.
If you’re feeling you’re bored with your playing, this is the signal from your brain to start doing something else! So, you may just leave what you’re trying to learn at rest, for a few days, and start to play something different.
4. Learn Different Techniques
Playing some new genre will often require learning some new techniques. As it’s been said already, our brain loves confronting different “quests”, to put it that way.
Different techniques will improve your muscle memory in your fingers. Not only that; different techniques will open the door of new possibilities. Keep this in mind: everything new you learn on your guitar will benefit your playing.
That’s true, even if you’re learning something that you don’t intend to play in the future. Every piece of knowledge is useful. It doesn’t apply only for guitar playing. It applies as a general rule, in life.
5. Don’t Rush
Let’s say you took the break, and you’re now ready to take the guitar in your hands and start playing it.
It is crucial to slow down. Don’t rush. Play at the speed you’re feeling confident at. Use metronome. It doesn’t matter how slow you play it, as long as your hands feel comfortable and relaxed.
For example, let’s say you’re stuck at learning how to perform string bending. Or tapping. Or legato.
Do that at slow tempo. Our brain likes starting slow. Over time, naturally, your hands will speed up when they feel comfortable to do so.
6. Sing When You Play
Play something easy and sing along. You may just play some easy, three chord, song you know to play well. Singing along will make you happy and satisfied.
Also, singing along will naturally make your fingers more relaxed. In that state of mind, you’ll naturally start to play more freely. For example, let’s say you play some easy, catchy three chord song on your guitar.
Soon after you start singing, you’ll start to play in different styles, and in different rhythms. It will come naturally. When you play some easy song over and over, you unconsciously want to play slightly different version of it, especially if you’re playing some easy rhythm song.
In that process, you’ll naturally start to change rhythmic patterns and picking patterns. With that, you’ll actually learning something new! It’s a great way of having fun and learning at the same time.
If you’re too shy to sing, lock yourself in your room and sing quietly. Or at least hum.
7. Play With Your Friends
By playing with your friends, you’ll learn a lot. And you’ll learn easier. When you’re playing with someone else, you also look at how your friend is playing something.
Also, the general atmosphere is better when there are more people in the room. (Assuming you’re confident enough in front of your colleagues.)
Your guitar buddy can tell you how to perform some technique you haven’t mastered yet. That helps a lot.
8. Stop Looking At Tabs And Tutorials
This is very important tip. In my opinion, guitar tabs are not helpful at all. All right, they are helpful, but only to some extent.
What I’m trying to say is that you should stop relying on guitar tabs and tutorials, in general. You’ll find out later that a lot of guitar tabs are not correct at all.
I remember myself looking at guitar tabs tirelessly. At one point I noticed that almost half of those tabs aren’t helpful at all.
Close guitar tabs and tutorials. Listen to what you’re trying to learn, instead. By listening, you’re going to develop your own style of playing. You’ll become independent of tabs and tutorials.
Most great guitarists didn’t use tabs when they were learning, anyway.
It’s important to concentrate on something you want to learn. Concentrate on the parts you’re having problems with.
Isolate the part of something you want to learn, the part you’re having problems with. Now, when you isolate it, concentrate on it.
Don’t let your mind drifts away. It’s the problem that’s so often. I have this problem, also. My mind just slips away from the thing I’m trying to learn. That’s psychologically explainable.
Our brain has the tendency to run away from problems. It’s called procrastination. In this case, your brain tries to escape from learning something new, because it may seem hard to learn it at the beginning.
Make yourself concentrate. Don’t think about something else. Immerse yourself in the moment – think only about your playing, what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it.
That’s not an easy thing to do. That’s why you should first take a break (as I said it at the beginning), to make your head calm and relaxed.
Getting stuck is something perfectly normal and natural. Don’t panic when that happens. Keep in mind that everyone hits that point once in a while.
The key is to keep the faith and confidence in yourself. If you’re not improving, it’s just your body telling you to stop and rest.
The states of our mind and our bodies are not always matched with each other. Sometimes you can feel so motivated, while your body can feel tired. Listen to what your body has to say to you.
Also, if your mind isn’t relaxed, you won’t achieve anything. Balance is the key.
Anyway, I hope this article gave you some valuable information about this issue. I hope it will help you in your journey of becoming a great guitarist. If you enjoyed reading this article, as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it – I’m more than happy about it.
It is always a pleasure helping a fellow guitar brothers all over the world. Don’t forget to check out other interesting articles from this site about various guitar topics and issues!
Cheers, and rock on!