How To Deal with Guitar Frustration?
One of the wonderful things about learning guitar is that you will always be learning something new. There isn’t a single person out there who has mastered absolutely every single technique that there is to master. This includes the musicians that tend to top the ‘best guitarists of all-time lists’.
Now, the big problem with the fact that there is so much to learn (other than the fact you will never be able to learn it all) is the fact that some of the techniques are going to be pretty challenging, at least at the start. If you are greeted with a challenging technique, then you are going to have to deal with a whole heap of frustration.
Frustration, when it comes to playing, is never a good thing. Not only are you going to find it difficult to learn the techniques that you need to learn, but it is going to make playing not all that fun. Guitar playing is, of course, meant to be fun. Thankfully, these tips should point you in the right direction.
Common pitfalls which can lead to frustration whilst playing guitar
Before we dive into how you can actually deal with the frustration that comes with learning guitar, it is probably worth sharing a few tips for avoiding frustration in the first place. These should put you on the right path:
- Don’t be a jack of all trades. Not under any circumstance. As mentioned previously, there is absolutely no way that you will be able to learn absolutely everything there is to know about guitar. You shouldn’t even bother. Most guitar teachers recommend that you try to focus on just a couple of techniques. Only focus on one technique at a time too. Once you start jumping around with what you are learning, you will never ‘fully understand’ one particular technique. This means you will never be that brilliant as a guitarist.
- Avoid working with teachers or other guitarists who seem to want to show off at every given moment. If you work with one of these people, then you are going to be completely discouraged. This can lead to frustration.
- Practice as often as you can. If you wish to be a brilliant guitarist, you are going to need to practice every single day. There is no exception to this rule. If you do not practice every single day, then you are going to find it difficult to master the techniques that you need to be a top guitarist. If you struggle to master these techniques, you will just become frustrated.
- Never compare yourself to others. Other guitarists should be a method of learning. Playing guitar should never, even be a competition.
Set Reasonable Goals
This goes for any task that you are looking to accomplish, not just playing guitar. When you are learning something, you need to know that you are constantly making progress. If you feel like you are getting nowhere fast, then you are going to become frustrated incredibly quickly. Thankfully, goal setting correctly should be remarkably simple.
First and foremost, try not to have a HUGE end goal. Let’s assume that you are looking to learn a complete song. Unless you are very experienced, you are not going to be able to nail it right away. You are going to need to break the song up into sections. So, do that. Break the song up into small sections and work on each one individually. You should not be moving onto the next section of the song until you have nailed the previous section. In the end, you can link everything together.
Another way is to break down the song by the various techniques that you need. So:
- Learn the chords required.
- Learn the scale that the solo of the song is in (brilliant if you are learning how to improvise)
- Learn any techniques that you need for that particular song e.g. tapping, finger-picking, etc.
Honestly, once you start to break down a technique into manageable chunks and stop seeing it as this huge piece that you need to tackle in one big go, then you are going to find things a whole lot easier to deal with. Trust us on that one!
Focus on where you are going wrong
If you are failing in your progression, then you need to think about why you are actually failing at the task. Let’s say that you are working on your speed. You can’t get up to the speed that you want. Think about why that is the case. Is it because you do not know the scale well enough? Is it because you are too tense? Is it because you do not have the right coordination? Once you have established what the issue is, things are going to become a whole lot easier for you.
Speed is actually a pretty big source of frustration when it comes to playing the guitar. You have to realize that you can’t hit top speeds until you know exactly what you are doing. This is where a metronome is going to come into play. You will want to play the song to a beat, but nowhere near as fast as the ‘full song’. Once you nail the song at a certain BPM (perhaps a ¼ of the BPM that it should be) then you will be able to move up to the next level.
You need to ensure that you are moving on up constantly. As mentioned previously, you should never be working on something new until you have nailed the technique at a lower speed.
Many people who are just getting started with the guitar will play for hours and hours on end. This is brilliant. However, if you do wish to alleviate yourself of stress, then you are going to need to take breaks from time to time. You don’t need much. Just 5-10 minutes every hour will work absolute wonders. This is especially important if you are a newcomer to the world of guitar.
As you may well know, your fingers are going to be very painful when you play for hours and hours on end. You can’t really do much about that. You will get used to it after your fingers start to build up ‘strength’ However, at the start, regular breaks are going to help you out a lot. Grab a drink. Have a bit of a breather. Then come back to the guitar nice and fresh.
You have to admit that you aren’t good from time to time
I know. This is not a brilliant way of looking at things. However, from time to time you are going to be humble. No guitarist is perfect. Sometimes, you may not be as brilliant at the simple techniques as you think you are. This is fine. You are practicing. Once you can work out that you aren’t as good as you think you are, then you are going to very quickly open up yourself to learning. It will actually give you a pretty decent confidence boost.
Work with other guitarists
This is a technique which may or may not works for you. There are plenty of people out there who have discovered that surrounding themselves with other guitarists who have nailed the technique will work wonders for them. You see, by surrounding yourself with people who know what they are doing, you are showing yourself that the technique can be learned with a bit of practice. You also have the side benefit of being able to pick their brains and get some information from them.
On the other hand, there are some people out there who do not like to be surrounded by other guitarists. This is because they feel overwhelmed. They see other guitarists and think ‘I am never going to be able to accomplish that”. If you are one of these people, then this technique is obviously not going to work.
Commit yourself to practice
Yes. This has been mentioned before, but it is probably worth mentioning again. With any instrument, especially guitar, it is very much a case of practice makes perfect. You can’t just pick up the guitar anytime that you want and hope for the best. You need to commit yourself to a certain amount of time each day where you will just sit back and actually play guitar.
Yes. Every day. Once or twice a week is not enough. It doesn’t have to belong. If you can only fit in an hour long play session, that is fine. All that matters is that for a certain amount of time each day, you are working on improving yourself. If you do that, then you will constantly be developing your technique. This means the times when the frustration starts to set in will be few and far between.
Remember, frustration is something that every guitarist will need to deal with. This is fine. The guitar is a complicated instrument. However, do not give up. If you put the effort in, you will nail the techniques you want quickly and easily.