Common Learning Problems And How To Solve Them
Learning guitar can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to reduce stress, explore your creativity, and have fun with music.
With guitar lessons, you can speed up your progress, make new friends, and have more fun with your instrument as your guitar teacher shows you more ideas you can use to play your music.
Sometimes though, it’s not all fun and games. As with any new skill you learn, there will be plateaus, roadblocks, and other frustrations along the way.
The difference between people who quit and people who keep playing guitar is often found in how you approach these frustrations.
In this lesson, we’re going to look at some of the common causes of frustration that students face in their guitar lessons.
Many teachers and students have struggled with these issues over the years, without really understanding how to deal with them.
These are some of the causes of frustration that many guitar players (including myself for a number of years) struggle with:
Fixed Instructional Methods
A typical guitar teacher will have one main approach to teaching. They might follow a method book and assign certain pages each week, or they may have developed their own process over time.
The problem caused by fixed instructional methods is this: they will only work with a certain kind of student.
And these methods might be great for that particular kind of student, but they won’t help the majority of people out there trying to learn guitar.
This type of approach can feel confining and inflexible.
Being assigned pages out of a method book feels more and more like homework over time, and playing guitar can start to feel like a chore.
How To Deal With It:
While it is important for a guitar instructor to have a plan, that plan should be flexible.
If there is something specific that you want to know how to do, tell your guitar teacher about it! They should be able to help you, or at least tell you what you need to do so you can get there.
As a student, you need to understand that what you really want to do might be a few steps away from your abilities right now.
Your guitar teacher should be able to put a plan together to help you get to where you want to go.
Don’t be shy about asking your guitar instructor to change things up, or help you with something specific.
Overload of Information
There seems to be so much information available about how to play guitar, it is easy to become overwhelmed. This overload of information is part of what makes many beginners become frustrated and quit playing guitar.
If you’re looking for guitar lessons online, you can easily become buried under the sheer amount of free or paid video lessons, ebooks, or online guitar schools. It can feel impossible to know what you’re actually supposed to do to learn to play guitar.
Some guitar teachers unknowingly contribute to this problem.
If their student becomes bored or frustrated, the teacher presents them with another piece of information, another scale, another song.
What many people don’t realize is that this actually overloads guitar players with information - making them feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
How To Deal With It:
Do one thing at a time. Look for ways to get better at the things that you already feel like you know before trying to add on new information.
If you’re getting overwhelmed with information in your guitar lessons, tell your teacher!
A good guitar teacher can help you slow down and actually start to master the material that you’ve already covered.
Limiting the amount of material you are actively working on will help you get a deeper understanding of your guitar playing.
Everyone likes to get quick results, whenever they can. This leads to a short term focus when it comes to everything we do - including learning guitar.
As a result people become focused on learning a certain song, increasing their playing speed as quickly as possible, or expecting to become a great guitar player overnight.
Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work this way.
By focusing on the quick fix, both the guitar teacher and the students sell themselves short of what is really possible with improvements to their guitar playing.
You can become a better guitar player in a relatively short period of time - it just takes longer than a lot of people want to admit.
In the grand scheme of things, you can learn guitar quickly. But it’s going to take more than a few weeks or months to do it.
Most of the shortcuts out there are simply catchy marketing, and they leave giant holes in your ability level.
Focusing on getting better quickly sets unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment, frustration, and even quitting altogether.
How To Deal With It:
Find a way to enjoy the process, instead of focusing on the end result.
Instead of measuring your playing against other guitar players, just work on your own playing and musical growth.
If you learn to enjoy the journey of guitar playing you’ll have a lot more fun, and become a better guitar player because of it.
Using A Theory First Approach
In the quest for knowledge, many guitar players and guitar teachers have adopted a backwards approach to learning how to play guitar.
They read up on all of the information, but forget to put anything into practice.
By attempting to learn the theory first, you will spend a lot of time thinking about the finer points of playing guitar, but less time actually playing the guitar.
It’s like memorizing statistics of great players to try and learn to play baseball.
It’s fun to know the trivia and important to know the rules - but unless you actually get out on the field and develop some skills, you’re not going to learn how to play the game.
How To Deal With It:
Realize that theory exists to explain sound - not to create sound. When you’re learning a new concept or skill, try to focus on the "how to do it” - not the “why does this work?”
A working knowledge of theory is important for you to become a well rounded musician, but it is often more useful when you can already create the sound that the theory is trying to explain.
Focus on the physical development of a skill, and the theoretical knowledge will make a lot more sense to you.
Things To Think About:
In this lesson we looked at some of the things that usually cause frustration throughout the course of your guitar lessons, and some ways for you to deal with it.
If you start to notice any of these things creeping into your practice or lessons, tell your guitar teacher.
Recognizing these common causes of frustration early can help you find a solution that will not only help you keep from getting frustrated, but will also make you a better guitar player over time.
What frustrates you about learning guitar? Have you found a way to deal with the problem so you can move forward? Let me know.
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