I think we all like the feeling when we are moving forward, towards our goals and dreams.
Once we taste the flavor of becoming better at playing guitar, there is no way back. It is kind of an addiction, you want more of it. But it is a good kind of addiction, because you are turning into a better version of yourself.
However sometimes there are days, weeks or even months when you feel like not improving at all. You hit the plateau that is hard to overcome. The longer you play, the bigger the plateaus are. Now it is much harder to see progress from one day to another.
I don’t know about you, but no matter how hard I try, there are always days when I get discouraged because my progress is slower than I would like it to be. It seems almost as if I was moving backwards. For years I would be pissed off if a day like this showed up. I would be angry and frustrated and thus making the situation even worse.
But fortunately, now I know better. Now that I understand how a learning process works, it is much easier to not feel disappointed. Learning takes time because our brains do not work like computers. We cannot instantly learn how to play guitar well. We don’t live in Matrix.
Guitar playing is a complex motor skill. If you expect that you can master it in a few weeks, you are just setting yourself up for failure. The only way how you can speed up your progress, is to learn how your brain works and then organize your practice schedule in a way that takes advantage of it.
How to deal with slow guitar progress?
If you feel like your progress is too slow, you have to realize, it has nothing to do with reality. Your progress is what it is.
What you feel or what you think about it has nothing to do with it. Your opinions are actually irrelevant. If you really want to find out how you are doing, first you have to define what a slow or fast progress means.
If you’ve been practicing hard, putting in hours, but still feel like you are not any better, the problem is somewhere else.
What you need to do, is define how will you measure your progress. You need to have a benchmark that you can measure you improvement against. It is basically very similar to goal setting. You need to define what you want before you can actually reach it.
Here are few suggestions you can use to measure your progress:
1/ Measure how much time did you spend practicing your guitar in one week. Then decide what is your new standard – let’s say 10 hours a week. After one week analyze how does your progress seems now and make adjustments.
2/ If you want to write a new song, compose 3 song ideas each day and record them. At the end of the week take the best ideas and create a song. How is your progress now?
3/ If you need to learn how to improvise over II-V-I, create 3 lines over that progression each day. At the end of the week you have 21 lines over II-V-I. Is that a good progress? I think so.
The main thing with these exercises is to be very specific with what you want to accomplish. You have to decide what a good progress looks like. Once you determine what you want, work your ass off to reach it. Then analyze the results, adjust and repeat.
Complaining that your progress is slow if you don’t know how to measure it, is worthless and stupid (yes Lukas, don’t do that anymore).
Next time you feel like you are not improving, ask yourself:
How do I know that my progress is slow? Is my opinion based on facts or am I just entertaining myself with this stupid guilt game?
All of us get stuck from time to time. Believe me, it is pretty normal to think you are not growing. But the key here is to not quit. That’s the only way how you can get past any obstacle. Keep moving, it doesn’t matter how slow.
Hope this helps.
Image courtesy: dingatx
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