So you’re frustrated playing the guitar. Maybe you can’t seem to make it through your practice routine without making mistakes. Maybe you’re not playing with as much ease and fluidity as you’d like. Maybe you find yourself struggling with something that’s been giving you trouble for a while.
As guitarists, we can all identify with these situations, because we’ve all been there. In fact, practicing the guitar is a process that involves regular cycles of frustration and relief. Frustration is an inevitable part of this process. We often have to work through frustrating periods in order to move forward in our playing.
But sometimes frustration can be a sign that we need a change of perspective or a new approach to help us move forward. This is especially true when we hit roadblocks and get stuck on problems for long periods of time. If we don’t address these problems in new ways, then we risk settling into habits and tendencies that will hold us back later on down the road.
In this lesson I will show you how to practice effectively when you are frustrated playing the guitar.
If you’ve been playing the guitar for a few years or more, chances are you’ve experienced some level of frustration. Maybe you’re stuck playing the same songs over and over again, and you wish you could write your own music. Maybe your learning is slow-going, or maybe you just can’t seem to get that B7 chord right.
Whatever it is, we all experience days (or even weeks at a time) when our playing just doesn’t feel right. I’ve spent hours upon hours staring at my guitar and wondering if I’ll ever play what I hear in my head.
One thing I’ve learned in my 20+ years of playing guitar is that it’s OK to be frustrated. The important thing is to know what to do when you are frustrated and to have a plan of action. Below are five tips for what to do when you’re frustrated with your guitar playing:
When you get frustrated, or feel like you’re in a rut, or just need a refresher…
-Listen to the masters. Go back and listen to the masters. Listen to Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, and even the jazz giants like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. This is always a great reminder of where it is that we’re trying to go.
-Listen to your heroes. Who was it that got you excited about playing guitar in the first place? Who are your favorite players/vocalists? What do you find yourself listening to again and again? Listening to our heroes can not only help put us in a great mood but also remind us of our goals as musicians and give us some fresh inspiration.
-Listen to yourself. Pull out those old recordings and go listen to what you sounded like years ago, before all of this frustration ever crept into your playing. Remember how far you’ve come since then!
I have struggled with the guitar for decades. There are times when I believe I will never get it. Other times I feel like I am a child again, just learning for the first time.
When my son was about 8 months old, I was ready to give up on the guitar. My fingers hurt and my hands were sore. I was exhausted and felt like would never learn how to play an instrument.
One day, I decided to take a break from playing. That break lasted 5 years! It wasn’t until my son was 5 that I decided to pick up my guitar again and teach myself how to play this thing properly — once and for all.
I started researching different ways that people learn music, and found a few things that worked well for me:
1) Always start with a warm-up. It doesn’t matter if you only have 10 minutes to play; dedicate at least 3 of those minutes on stretching your fingers, hands, and wrists (you should be taking breaks every 15-30 minutes anyway). This also helps set your mind in “practice mode” so you don’t have any distractions or excuses later on.
2) Find songs that you actually enjoy playing
I have been playing the guitar for about 10 years now, and have played at a professional level for about 8. I started playing when I was very young, so there were times when I got frustrated with myself and my playing. I would get frustrated because I felt like my progress had stalled, and that is a horrible feeling to have.
As a guitar teacher, I often get asked what people should do to avoid frustration. To be honest, it is impossible to avoid getting frustrated with yourself. It is also impossible to completely avoid getting frustrated with your guitar playing. When you are learning something new on the instrument, you will always get stuck or frustrated at some point in your journey.
I am writing this post because I want people to understand that frustration is normal and it happens to everyone. It happens to me too! In fact, I still get frustrated sometimes when learning something new on the guitar or in life in general. The key is not to avoid frustration, but rather how we deal with it and how it affects us as players and as human beings in general.
What do you do when you’re frustrated? Do you quit? Do you throw your guitar out the window? Do you just give up? Do you start berating yourself for not being good enough
I have been teaching guitar for almost 20 years. I have had all the same frustrations that you may be having now.
I don’t know about you, but when I first started playing guitar, it was very frustrating and discouraging. I wanted to be able to play like my guitar heroes so fast. And I couldn’t.
I kept practicing and practicing. But it just didn’t seem to be getting any better. Everything seemed so hard.
When I finally realized why things were not working out for me, and then changed what I was doing, everything changed for me!
Suddenly, things were getting easier and easier. And more enjoyable too!
Here is how you do it:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I want to be a great jazz guitarist.” But the truth is, they can’t even play a Bb7 chord correctly.
Seriously, how many times have you gone to a jam session and it sounds like the guitarist is randomly choosing notes to play over each chord? It seems as though they didn’t practice what they were going to play. It doesn’t sound good at all.
The problem most guitarists face is that they don’t know what to practice. They simply don’t know where to start when it comes to learning jazz guitar chords. So instead of practicing the right things, they take a stab at soloing over every single chord in existence — completely missing the point.