Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately. I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…
“I really like this short question/answer format.
My question would be:
“How do you motivate yourself when it feels like progress/improvement is really, really slow?”
Using a recent example, I’d never fingerpicked before and I learned Sound of Silence. Three months (one elbow operation) and lots of practice since I first looked at it and it is now recognisable but in no way fluid.
I don’t know if my practice technique is ineffective, whether my expectations of where I “should” be are too high, I’m too self-critical or what, but it feels like I’m spending up to an hour every day on the guitar to sound not very good.
Despite this, I enjoy playing but after 18 months of practicing almost every day I hoped to be at least able to hold a tune and/or make smooth chord changes on basic chords e.g., G, C, D, A
So that’s my question Dan, thanks for reading.”
It is a good question.
I see this a fair bit with new students, and it is usually a combination of two things.
1 – High expectations.
No one really says how it really is with the guitar – things take time, especially fluency with big pieces of music. I mean, a song like “Sound of Silence” has many, many movements with both hands.
Not only do you have to remember each movement, but you have to perform them in a technically sound way, and all in one go.
This takes a lot of effort and focus. That brings me on to the second point…
2 – Most people try to perfect too much at once.
Can you play 1-2 bars of the piece in a musical way that you are happy with?
If not, spend 80% of your time on this small part of the song, truly mastering the first two bars, and the other 20% “maintaining” the other parts of the song so you don’t forget them.
Really zone in on these first two bars, every note, every nuance, every single movement, focusing on every detail.
Most people don’t do this as it takes patience and a bit of a mindset change, but mastering songs in chunks like this nearly always unlocks the rest of the song.
If you are like Simon, I hope that helps.
Now, let’s get you to the next level so playing becomes even more fun!
Anyway, onto Email #2
I purchased this course because I want to play guitar with better techniques.
I am in my 40s and still a beginner and slow on changing chords. I need music in my life because a full-time job is so stressful and I want to destress through learning guitar playing.
There is no pressure for me, just for fun. Also, I had this frustration because when we were young, my sisters and I asked our military dad to buy us a guitar, and he said no, because his impression of singers back then was performing in clubs.
So, I have this idea in my mind that if our dad just bought us a guitar before, I could have been a guitarist.
It is great that Clesie is here and learning now.
Funny how the guitar used to have a bad reputation.
I remember reading once, for a short while in the very old days, that classical guitarists were looked down upon by performers of other instruments.
Strange that and how times have changed!
Guitar is, of course, a wonderful instrument and so many of us love to play it to help us relax…
…Especially, if like Clesie, you have a stressful job or you have had a non-stop busy career and are now retired.
For me, there is nothing better than picking up the guitar at a random time of the day, playing through a few pieces and relaxing, getting lost in the moment.
Time often stands still it is that powerful.
Anyway, wishing Clesie all the best with the guitar.
If you want more help relaxing with this wonderful instrument, learning how to play a variety of popular yet varied fingerpicking patterns, and specific advice on how to fingerpick from the ground up, then check this out.
Have a fab day!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.