Because I specialise in teaching guitar to adults, I’ve noticed something…

The vast majority of adults learning the guitar are busy. Really busy.

Is that something you can relate to?

If you’re like many of the guitarists I teach you might…

  • Have a fulltime job or business that takes up 40+ hours a week of your time.
  • Have to spend the time that it takes to commute to work.
  • Have a social life
  • Have family obligations to take care of.
  • Have other hobbies that are also important to you.

You get the idea. There’s a lot of things you need to do, and often it’s easy to put your guitar practice on the backburner. And that can be frustrating for both you (and your guitar teacher).

So what’s the solution?

Well, to be honest, I really don’t know. Each person is different. But because I’ve dealt with many adult students, I can give you a few strategies that might help you. We’ll be taking a look at these strategies over the next few weeks. Let’s start with the first one now…

Strategy One: Let Go Or Build Your Desire

I’ve noticed a really interesting thing over the years that I’ve taught guitar. For almost any excuse a student has given me as to why they didn’t practice, I’ve had another student who had similar circumstances but still did the practice. In other words, one student used their circumstances as an excuse, while another student overcame their circumstances.

I find that fascinating.

I also think that it is strongly related to the strength of their desire. For example, I had a student years ago who practised virtually every day even though he generally worked at least 70 hours a week. (He also had a family). He became a personal hero of mine. Why? because he had such a strong desire to learn guitar, he carved out a little bit of time each day for his guitar practice. I think that is pretty damn impressive! It’s extremely rare to get a student with that much desire. (I certainly don’t think my own guitar practice would be very consistent if I worked 70+ hours a week!).

I feel that this burning desire to get better on guitar is the most important thing. Without this desire, guitar practice will always be shoved to the end of the to-do list.

But what happens if you realize that you don’t currently have a burning desire to improve? Well, I feel that you have to make a choice between two main options…

Option One: Let Go

There is absolutely nothing wrong with treating your guitar playing like a casual hobby. Your guitar playing should bring joy to your life…not pain. So if all you want to do is pick it up on weekends and play around with it. That’s great. There is nothing wrong with that. Rather than beating yourself up each week because you didn’t practice, just let go. Pick up the guitar when you can, and just have fun with it. Just make sure that you also manage your expectations. In other words, don’t expect to get good anytime soon. Just have fun with your guitar without putting any pressure on yourself to get good.

Option Two: Build Your Desire

The other option is to build your desire. (In other words, make it stronger). This is for guitarists that want to become really good, but they don’t yet have the burning desire that drives them to practice consistently. Here are some ideas for building your desire…

  • Spend time with guitarists who play a lot better than you.
  • Spend time with guitar players who are busy but still manage to make time for their practice.
  • Go to concerts, or watch videos of top-level guitarists.
  • Listen to the music of incredible guitar players.
  • Visualise yourself being able to play really well. Try to see, hear and feel it in as much detail as possible for at least 10-minutes a day.
  • Buy the instructional DVDs of guitar virtuosos.
  • Read interviews of your favourite guitar players.
  • Set some compelling musical goals such as…
    • Joining a band.
    • Writing your own songs.
    • Learning songs written by your favourite musicians.
    • Gaining mastery over a specific technique.
    • Learning some great sounding guitar licks.

You get the idea. Do things that excite, motivate and create desire. The goal is to want it so bad, that you can’t imagine not practising a bit each day.

As well as all the ideas above, you can also build yourself a big stick. What do I mean by this? Well, simply ask yourself some questions that cause you to confront the excuses that you normally make. The idea is to create a bit of pain that will cause you to start taking action towards your dreams. Here are a few example questions that you might ponder over…

  • If I continually use my business or job as an excuse, then when will I ever make time for practice? When I retire?
  • Am I prepared to wait until I retire before I start pursuing my musical dreams?
  • How would I feel in 10 years time if I still can’t play much better than I do now?
  • Would I feel happy if I continued my current rate of progress for the rest of my life?

Because I don’t know you, I don’t know if these questions are hard-hitting enough. If they aren’t, then design some of your own. The goal is to break your current pattern of thinking and start to think of continual excuses as being extremely detrimental to your musical progress (which they are!).

To finish off this article, let’s take a look at a quote that I really like. I’m not sure who said it, but here it is…

“You can either become an awesome guitarist, or you can make excuses. But you can’t do both”.

I love that quote. I say it to myself anytime I start to make excuses…which is often. 🙂

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