Any time that you decide to learn a new skill, it can be difficult to maintain. It is easy to get discouraged when you are a beginner and to feel like the road to mastery is just out of reach. Losing motivation is not a sign of weakness. It is normal. Sometimes, staying motivated can be the biggest obstacle to learning the new skill you have committed yourself too. This is true when taking guitar lessons. Learning to play guitar is also one of the most rewarding things that you can do for yourself. Here are some tips to help keep you motivated and on task while taking guitar lessons.
Goals and Organization
Motivation is not about wanting to learn something. Motivation stems from the level of achievement we feel about whatever task we are working on. Rather than looking at the long term goals, try setting smaller, short term goals for yourself. Short term goals are accomplishable in less amount of time. This means that the feeling of accomplishment is felt sooner and more frequently. You should organize your goals into steps so that you can ensure goals are realistic and being met. Many guitarist’s practice schedule is unorganized and ineffective. They usually do this for a long time before they realize that their practice routines and methods are not effective. Consider whether you are practicing effectively or not. Do you spend more time focusing on the skills you want to practice rather than the ones you should be practicing? Organizing your goals helps ensures you are learning things in the right order. Many beginners make the mistake of focusing on riffs for the lead guitar before mastering the basics of chord and rhythm training.
Recognize Your Accomplishments
Think about your goals regularly. Reflect on the accomplishments that you have made so far. Write things down as you accomplish them so you can look back at how far you have come when you feel discouraged. It is easy to lose motivation when a setback occurs. However, if you can look back to where you were when you first began versus the point you are currently standing at, it can drastically change your perspective. This is critical. Setbacks can negatively impact your judgment and lead you to feel discouraged. You must have a way to bring yourself back and remember how far you have come and the other setbacks that you have overcome to get to where you are today. Without acknowledging your success, your guitar will be in a closet somewhere in your home collecting dust rather than being played and enjoyed by you and those around you as you continue your growth and journey into learning.
Keep a Written Log
Keep a written log of your journey into learning to play guitar. This can easily be done by buying a cheap composition notebook at the dollar store. Start page one with the reasons you want to learn guitar, your motivations for learning guitar, and what you want to accomplish by learning guitar. Write a note of encouragement to yourself for the reason you are doing it. Next, write down your goals. Put a long-term goal at the top of the page. Then write down short-term goals and rewards for each. Break these short-term goals down into individual steps and write smaller rewards for accomplishing each step. Highlight them as you go so that you can still see them, you check them off and date them. Every day log the hours that you practiced and keep a running total of how many hours of practice you have put into playing the guitar. It can be very motivating to look back and see that you have spent one hundred or more hours practicing guitar when you feel like quitting. No one wants to quit something they have put a lot of time and effort in. Write short entries after each practice of what you did or did not accomplish that day, how you are feeling, and your goals for the next day. This can help keep you on track but can also be motivating later when you have a visual to look back on when feeling discouraged from where you were. It gives you documented proof of your accomplishments, and if you are feeling extremely unmotivated, read the letter to yourself. Write a new motivation letter to yourself at each milestone you reach, reasons to keep moving forward. Do this when you are motivated, passionate, and in a good mood so that it uplifts you when you are struggling.
Give Yourself Rewards
You made a goal list, so reward yourself when you hit a milestone. Those short-term goals should also have incentives with them. If you wrote them out, it is easy to add a spot beside each step of what will happen when you reach the goal. This gives you something to work for, something to look forward too and helps make the hard work feel worth it. It also helps you acknowledge your accomplishments by rewarding yourself when you have them. This helps you maintain your motivation and continue your growth and advancement on the path that you, and possibly your music teacher, have put in place for you.
There are several things you can do to reward yourself when you reach a goal. You can buy tickets to see one of your favorite bands live. You can go to dinner at your favorite restaurant or try a new restaurant that has live music. Reward yourself with new gear for the guitar you are learning to play, whether it is a new guitar case, a strap, or a sticker for the case (or in some cases the guitar); the smallest thing can make the biggest difference. Finally, you can allow yourself a day off from practice once you reach a goal. A day off is good motivation, just make sure it is only one day and you do not fall into the habit of not practicing.
Stay in Touch with Your Mental State and Keep Your Curiosity Alive
When you practice, what is your mental state? Where is your mind as you pluck the strings of your guitar? Is it repetitive and boring? Are you finding yourself getting sick of the same mundane things day after day? Ask yourself where you are mentally before each practice and be completely and brutally honest with yourself. If you want to renew your motivation for practice, you must learn how to create a practice routine that both encourages learning and that you enjoy. If you are taking lessons, reaching out to your music teacher, and discussing this can help. They may be able to help you brainstorm ways to make practice more fun. Guitar practice should not be a liability. It should be about learning, growing, increasing your skill, and making music that you and those around you can enjoy. If you can find ways to keep your curiosity alive and your interest peaked; it will propel you into learning and practicing more frequently than ever before. Sometimes, staying curious can be as simple as looking up new ideas on the internet or throwing a curveball into a lesson. Knowing your mental state and being curious helps keep you motivated and pushing forward.
Reach Out and Connect with Others
Find others that are also learning guitar and are going through the same thing you are. Share your learning experience with them and listen as they share theirs with you. This can help you in several ways. Connecting with others in a community can help you set goals for yourself and can even provide you with the opportunity to set group goals. You can even go as far as creating competitions as you work on skills together to make practicing even more fun. You will have people that understand what you mean when you share your frustrations when you come across a set-back or an area that you are struggling with. Connecting with others can help ensure that you are having fun as you learn. When you practice with others, even if it is over video chat, it can make practicing less repetitive and boring. When you have friends that you can practice with, you can easily find yourself having a lot more fun with each session. Finally, connecting others allows you the opportunity to receive and give advice and feedback when struggling with an exercise or step on the goal list. Practicing in a group is like groups that ban together to lose weight and help keep each other motivated to hit step goals and eat healthily.
If you are unable to physically connect with a group, check out online groups. You can find virtual communities on Google+, Facebook, and online forums. You can even use video platforms such as Skype, Facebook messenger, and zoom to have virtual practice sessions with your new group of friends.
Watch Musicians Play Live
Check events that are coming to your local area. An easy way to stay motivated is to watch some of your favorite musicians play live. Finding lesser-known local artists playing live can also help keep you motivated when they play well. When you can watch a great guitarist perform it gives you the chance to see that all your hard work is leading you somewhere. No one is born automatically knowing how to play the guitar. It is a skill that must be learned, even if it comes more naturally to some than others. Watching live performance can show you what is possible if you stick to your practice sessions and routines. If you are unable to go to a concert soon, many concerts are being streamed, televised, and on YouTube that you can watch from your smartphone, laptop, or streaming device in the comfort of your own home. This can still help keep you motivated for the same reasons as going to a live performance.
Listen to the Songs You Want to Learn
Concerts are not going to motivate you all the time. No one has the time or money to go to a concert every time they feel unmotivated, discouraged, or are simply having a bad day. This is understandable. You may not have the time or money to go to a concert. Maybe you simply do not have the babysitter. That is fine. Another great way that you can motivate yourself is by listening to songs you are interested in learning how to play. Guess what? That guitarist playing that song you love so much had to start somewhere. Listening to the songs you want to learn to play can help provide the inspiration you need to pick up the guitar and continue practicing. Even if it is a song that will take years to learn, it can give you motivation toward the end goal, which is knowing how to effectively play the guitar.
Where is Your Guitar?
Where do you store your guitar? Have you ever saw the TV shows that feature celebrity homes? Have you ever seen the homes featured by a famous guitarist? If you have, you notice that there is usually at least one, if not several, guitars in almost every room of the house. If you cannot see your guitar you are not thinking of your guitar and it is easy to forget and get busy with other things that need to be accomplished that day and forget about your lesson. If your guitar remains in your line of sight, then this can help encourage and motivate you to carry through with your lessons. Take the time to carefully consider the storage location of your guitar. Store it somewhere you can see it during the day so that you remember to practice.
Long-Term Goals Matter Too
Short-term goals are great and can provide a lot of motivation. Especially when you are rapidly reaching each step and rewarding yourself for every step you reach. However, it is also important to think about long-term goals. What is the end-game? What is it that you want to achieve by learning to play the guitar? Are you simply wanting to learn a new skill or are you trying to become a famous musician? Having long-term goals can also help you stay motivated because it provides you with a finish line, a point that all the practice and learning is worth it. That does not mean you will ever stop learning, growing, or practicing, but that it gives you a point to look forward too. Understanding the goals, you want to accomplish in the long-run ensures you have an easier time developing appropriate practice routines to reach the finish line.
Never Let the Passion Die
If you are not passionate about playing the guitar, the motivation to learn will always be lacking. Do not let your passion die. Is there a favorite type of music you are wanting to learn? Is there more than one style of music you want to play? Are you just wanting to learn in general so you can read music and play whatever comes your way? All of this is good. When the passion is there, learning and practicing is an easier task. You can easily learn to be satisfied when you practice guitar because of that passion and love for the guitar; even when you feel there is no progress currently being made. When you doubt yourself, just go back and review the accomplishments that you have made so far.
For more tips and tricks for the beginner, guitarists check out DeviantNoise.com today!