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5 Common Reasons to Quit Playing Guitar… And What You Can Do to Stick With It

playing guitar

Don’t let the title fool you, we’re not encouraging you to quit guitar. In fact, we want to help you stick with it. Oftentimes when people decide to learn an instrument, they end up quitting before they realize their full potential. Here, Irvine, CA guitar instructor Douglas F.  breaks down five of the most common reasons people quit playing guitar, and what you can do to overcome your excuses.

In everyday encounters, it’s surprisingly common to hear “I used to play guitar, but…” after someone finds out that I play or teach guitar. What follows is a slew of excuses that I’ve compiled and compressed into the top five reasons for quitting guitar.

You may have heard these excuses, and maybe even used a few yourself. When you’re feeling discouraged, here’s what you can do to push past your rut and stick with it!


Self Doubt

playing guitar

Lack of skill as a beginner is one of the most common reasons that people drop the guitar for good. In my opinion, this excuse makes the least amount of sense.

With any new skill, why would anyone expect to be great without preparation and practice? This is nothing but a combination of self-doubt and classic learning frustration.

In conversations like this, I like to share my personal experience: When I first started, I was not very good (AT ALL) at guitar, drums, or bass.

The  truth is, no one is born a musician; all it takes is the genuine desire to learn. This should not be confused with natural ability and the amount of time you have played guitar.


Lack of Time / Time Management

playing guitar

If you can devote 20 focused minutes to playing guitar every day, you’re on your way to greatness.

Comparing the amount of time you’ve played guitar to others is useless. People watch me play guitar and think that since I have played for about 10 years, it must take that long to play comfortably.

Wrong; in fact, the amount of time you have played is pretty much irrelevant. Before starting with a new student, I often ask how long they’ve played guitar. I’ve learned over the years that the answer to this questions has very little correlation to the student’s ability level. I’ve had students bumping out John Mayer songs after only a few months, and people who have tinkered around with guitar for 55 years and never decided to learn more than three songs.

Here’s a tip: Try recording yourself  so you can hear how much you’ve improved. You’ll be surprised, if you’re learning the right way, you’ll notice that you sound and feel better every single time you pick up your guitar.


Learning Guitar is Challenging

playing guitar

If you have this excuse, you’re not learning the right way. Learning and practicing should be fun the whole time – I promise this is actually possible.

Stop memorizing– make habits instead.

Don’t let memorization stress you out! Don’t bother memorizing chord structures, song structures, scales, when you can pull them up on devices, print them out, or get that chord poster they have in every music store. You don’t need to know scales to learn songs, and if you’re learning scales before songs- please fire your instructor today.
Don’t waste your time and brain power. The habits will slide themselves into your playing- just like they do best. You will easily memorize things like chord shapes quicker than you may expect, because guitar playing is all about muscle memory!


Boredom / Loss of Interest

playing guitar

To me, this just screams that you aren’t having fun; probably for very justifiable reasons. Here are some of the reasons this may be..

Once you consider playing guitar as “homework” or feel dreadful about practicing, you know something is wrong! In a lot of cases, music instructors will choose the  music for their students, when it should be the complete opposite. A good instructor will know how to take your favorites song, and create a way for you to play it at your skill level.

Music is about the feeling you get when you play, there will never be a good reason to play music you don’t enjoy: so stop playing the songs that bore you and find something you want to dance around to!

If you dread playing a certain song because it’s too difficult, then that’s another story. Play something that gets you grooving and hungry for more, and then go back to learning the difficult song.


Unrealistic Expectations

playing guitar

You have to remember that the musicians you look up to were also in your shoes at one point.
In fact, they are still learning more, all the time!

Change your mentality: What’s your goal, anyway? Is it to be able to play comfortably within a couple months? Could “being a guitar player” simply mean playing a song you really like? Learning just one song is a much more realistic goal than setting out to become a rock god who can awe a crowd with a high-speed guitar solo.

Set mini goals for yourself!

Every day is a new chance to play guitar in a totally new mentality. Rock out and have fun!

Remember, It’s never too late to learn to play guitar, so if you’ve put it down, don’t be afraid to pick it back up and give it another go!

Douglas FPost Author: Douglas F.
Douglas teaches guitar, drums, and music theory in Irvine, CA. He studied music theory at North Carolina State University, and has been playing guitar and drums for over 10 years. Learn more about Douglas here!

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5 Benefits of Playing Guitar

5 Benefits of Playing Guitar (Besides Looking Cool)

5 Benefits of Playing Guitar

So you’ve started taking guitar lessons and you’ve learned how to play some of the essential chords. When you grip your guitar, you probably feel instantly cooler, and trust me, you should. While being able to play some sweet riffs on your ax will definitely make you the life of the party and boost your street cred, those aren’t the only perks of your new hobby. Here are five benefits of playing guitar.

1. Strum Away the Stress

No matter what’s causing you to feel stressed, spend some time playing your guitar. At the very least it will boost your mood and shift your focus, and before you know it, the stress of the day will subside. Once you get into your groove, you’ll feel much more relaxed.

According to a study from HELPGUIDE “playing music is like a mega-vitamin, engaging more areas of the human brain than any other activity. Music’s ability to help us shift thought patterns and moods, and even improve our physical well being is quite remarkable.” So next time you feel stressed, take it out on your guitar, not your loved ones.

2. Boost Your Brain Power

Learning guitar may not instantly make you the smartest person in class, but once you become a famous rock star that won’t matter anyway. Playing an instrument, however, naturally stimulates the brain. You’re focusing on reading music, learning chords, and doing several things at once.

Plus, in order to improve, you have to pay close attention to detail so you can correct errors and make adjustments. According to Medical News Today, based on findings from a study in Scotland, “people who practice musical instruments have sharper brains because they pick up mistakes in their performance and fix them more quickly than other people.”

So once you’ve learned to play some easy songs, you’ll not only be the envy of all your friends, you’ll also be smarter.

3. Pick Away the Pain

Have you ever noticed how playing or listening to music seems to take your mind off the things that are bothering you? This same strategy may work to alleviate anxiety and/or chronic pain.

An article in Men’s Health noted that based on a study from the University of Utah’s Pain Research center, listening to music can take your mind off and reduce pain—and what better music to listen to than the tunes you create on your guitar?

4. Heal Your Heart

While music (listening to, playing and writing) can certainly help you process your feelings and mend a broken heart, music actually has a positive effect on your heart from a medical standpoint.

According to Harvard Health, “music can help ease your recovery from a cardiac procedure, get you back to normal after a heart attack or stroke, relieve stress, and maybe even lower your blood pressure a tad.” So go ahead and sing your heart out, your body will thank you.

5. Practice Your Passion

This should probably be at the top of the list, but one of the most obvious benefits of playing guitar is that it’s really fun! Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, you probably started playing because you were interested, and you continue playing because you love it.

Playing music is fun, and it can expand your social circle and take you to unexpected places. Remember this next time you don’t feel like practicing, or get discouraged when you’re trying to learn a new song.

These are just a few of the many benefits of playing guitar. Why do you love to play? Whatever your reasons, make sure you’re getting the most out of your practice time.

If you feel like you could use some extra help, find an awesome guitar teacher in your area.

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So You Wanna Learn to Play Guitar (pt. XVI)

Jim Morrison at the Fillmore East

Magic and the Power

I'd like to mention the word mojo for a second.  Mojo is another term for magic and a lot of what I find happening in the studio or out playing gigs is exactly that.  How do you determine mojo from circumstantial happenings?  You don't, you just know it, feel it, and believe in it and thats what makes mojo real.  Mojo has been brought up in a lot of blues scenarios and Jim Morrison anagramed his name to Mr. Mojo Risin'.  For what it's worth there are things that you can do to increase your mojo power and I've gone over a few of those things already but the best way that I can describe mojo production is through experience. 

Say for example you wanna learn how to play better with others.  Do it.  Your experience with this is going to help you develop your ear, connect with others, and maybe even develop a sense of clairvoyance with those around you.  The skills you learn from this are yours to keep and you develop a sense of what works and what doesn't work just from being in that situation.  Mojo comes in when you're in the moment and you pull out of your bag of tricks skill that seem surreal or maybe even supernatural.  You're playing a solo and you're locked in, or you're rockin' a riff and you're in a groove.  Or maybe you're in the studio and somehow your cellphone picked up an unintended solo on voicemail. 

Now you're on board with mojo and how it happens, but you still need to learn the "why".  Why comes in with theory development and trust me, a lot of the theory that you learn can explain the magic that makes music powerful.  What is a 5th chord for example?  Is it a chord in 5th position?  No.  A 5th chord is a chord that rocks 2 notes… the 1st and the 5th, or the root and the fifth.  Look at an E5 chord, open E and 2nd fret of the A and D string.  What notes are those?  E, B and E again.  B is the fifth of E.  (E = 1, F# = 2, G = 3, A = 4 and B = 5).  The same theory goes for every 5th chord.  So now that you have theory knowledge you can apply that wherever you go.  Ironically enough…. knowledge equals power, and whats another term for a 5th chord?  A power chord.

So now that you know, go use your mojo and have a powerful week.

Jason M
 Jason M

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