Very occasionally, I’ll get an email from a student saying that they want to cancel their scheduled guitar lesson, because they didn’t practice over the week. Usually the excuse they give for not practicing is one of the following…
- They were unusually busy with work or family commitments.
- They were sick.
- They were traveling interstate or overseas without their guitar.
Because most people that take lessons are doing it for a hobby, and don’t need to be as committed as an aspiring professional, then I think that these are all perfectly reasonable excuses for not practicing. And, as long as weeks of zero practice (or very little practice) don’t become a regular occurrence, then it’s not a major problem.
But does not practicing over the week mean that you should miss your scheduled lesson? The short answer is no—but let’s take a look in more detail why…
It Slows Down Your Progress
For your guitar lessons to effectively help you to progress, you need to do the following two things…
- Practice guitar during the week between lessons.
- Attend the scheduled lessons.
So if you cancel a lesson because you didn’t practice, then you’ve just negated the second source of progress. While it’s true that not practicing that week won’t help your progress, if you attend your lesson then you’ll still get some benefit—and I would actually argue strongly that attending your lesson is even more important if you didn’t practice over the week.
It Sets A Negative Precedent
One of the huge advantages of taking guitar lessons is that it’s a form of external motivation. If you know you’re going to see your guitar teacher every week, then you’re more likely to practice. And once you start to see your progress from regular practice, then you’ll feel excited, and feel a stronger internal drive to practice even more. Over time, this can result in massive progress. (For Example: I had one student mention this week that he’s progressed more in the last four months of lessons, than the previous five years).
But if you know that your guitar teacher will let you off the hook, and allow you to cancel the lesson every time you don’t practice, then you’ll have one less reason to practice. For some guitarists, this means their practice becomes so irregular, that progress is no longer possible.
It Makes Your Guitar Teacher (Much) Less Motivated To Help You
If your guitar teacher has reserved a regular time slot for you, and doesn’t charge you for all missed lessons, then each lesson you cancel will cause them a loss of income. (It’s not as if they can enroll a new student just for the one lesson you missed). So if your teacher charges $60 per lesson, this means that you cancelling for not practicing has just cost them $60.
While most guitar teachers understand that students will occasionally cancel because of things like sickness, cancelling because of lack of practice is a major guitar teacher pet peeve. (For me, it definitely ranks in my top five pet peeves). And let’s be honest—being added to your guitar teacher’s “shit list” is hardly an effective way of making them feel 100% motivated to help you reach your guitar playing goals. 🙂
There’s Still A Lot That Can Be Accomplished
One reason that some students cancel because they didn’t practice is because they feel they’ll fall behind. In other words, they want to catch up, and practice what they were given in the previous lesson. While this attitude is understandable, it’s based on the faulty assumption that nothing valuable can be accomplished in the lesson, if they haven’t practiced the previous week’s material.
While it’s true that your guitar teacher won’t be able to move onto new material, it’s the perfect opportunity to have a guided guitar practice session. These teacher-directed practice sessions are always an incredibly beneficial thing to do, and having one will help you to master the previous week’s lesson material faster than simply missing the lesson.
A Few Last Words
Almost everyone has the occasional “week from hell” where guitar practice just wasn’t possible—hey, it happens! But don’t use that as an excuse for cancelling your scheduled lesson. There’s no point in letting that one bad week slow down your progress even more than it has to. 🙂
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