Feeling overwhelmed with everything to learn and staggering progress

Hi guitar friends!

This is my first time on the new community platform, my name is Inge, I am from the Netherlands and I started learning with Justinguitar around the start of the pandemic (started guitar in general in January 2020).

So as the title of my topic suggests, I feel a little overwhelmed by all the things I should practice, and the time that I have to practice. Also, my progress seems to be staggering and I also found out that things that I thought I could do, turn out to need quite a lot of attention after I did not practice so regularly for the last two months.

For example: after almost two years, I am still not able to control my pick at all times, whenever I try to play a fast song or a complicated strumming pattern (usually 16th notes), it slips out of my hands. Secondly, my E-shape barre chords are still an issue in the sense that, whenever I play them, there is always SOMETHING that isn’t quite right. I always hear a buzzing of some sort. If i fix the problem on one string, the pressure in my finger apparently shifts a fraction of a millimeter and another string starts buzzing. That makes me very insecure in playing songs that involve barre chords. Also shifting from open chords to the F barre chord (in particular Am and G) is problematic.

This week (after I had a covid infection and was out for 2 weeks), I started seriously again and made a practice schedule for 1 hour in the dashboard putting in all categories Justin suggested. However, there are not a lot of songs I know from memory and usually when I practice them, I don’t play them along with the recording much, because my confidence isn’t great or I can’t keep up. This also means that I need to watch Justin’s video’s about the songs to get back in the groove and I tend to practice loads of songs and never really perfecting any from start to finish.

Long story short: do more of you have these issues and how do you handle this?

Love to hear from you and I am open to any tips you can provide.

Greetings,

Inge

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Hi Inge!

I think we all know and understand your frustrations and problems… No one gets to be a great guitar player without going through many thousands hours of practice and improvements.

This is a great bit of info on how long it takes to learn, and how much effort you need to put in
https://hubguitar.com/articles/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-guitar

If you are at hour a day of practice sounds like you are pretty much on line for where you should be.

Now I am far from an expert, just a beginner (again) myself but… Dont be too hard on yourself and enjoy the journey.

The answer is work on specific problems , practice more and it will eventually sink in and you’ll move on, and to up the time you play I think.

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Hi Inge!

Hope you are feeling better and recovering - still take it easy when you can… :slightly_smiling_face:

Welcome to the forum - I joined recently as well and with similar feelings. I too started learning in 2020 a bit later than you and can relate to a lot of the challenges you mention. You’re further along than me and I’m not tackling barre chords and 16th notes much. I also had a ‘reset’ point last year where I made a huge list of all the things I needed to practice which ended up being most of the beginner course material…! :grinning:

I’m not sure if it will work but what I decided was to slow down on absorbing ‘new techniques’ and just focus on one song at a time, learn it, record it and share it here. Each new song will then give me just the things I needed to practice for that song for the next week or two and at the end of it I’ve learnt a song to come back to and play along with the original. I’m hoping then this will help trigger the memory - by playing the song and a quick note of the chords and maybe the pattern to remember it. I think Justin mentions this in some of the repertoire building videos.

For the F barre chord to Am and G - I find the same so I went back to using one minute changes to practice each change with a view to using them in a song (Hallelujah). I also slowed down and tried to focus on how I move the fingers eg sliding my fingers a long a string or using an anchor finger so its less of a jump while I get used to the change in pattern.

As Rob mentions - and as I understand it - embedding a firm grasp of an instrument so it becomes second nature takes many hours of focused practice and allowing time for it to sink in. Transferring watching a lesson to being able to do it and retain it takes time.

Hopefully you will be encouraged that there are others on the journey with you and others more knowledgable than me who can help with specific techniques you’ve questions on.

Long story short - yes - I feel the same but am smiling and finding small wins and enjoying the music…! :grinning:

All the best and welcome,

Al

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Inge, I totally feel the same. If I try and look ahead at all that there is to learn, it is daunting.
I try and stay in the present and enjoy we’re I am. Small goals and doing something that highlights progress (like playing songs) helps me.
I have no real agenda, so that helps me enjoy the journey.

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First thing to realise is a pace, it is a marathon, very long one at that.

In order to achieve something satisfying one must keep going, almost every day. Motivation is the key, realise the song that you like the most, realise yourself playing that song and how it feels (it doesn’t have to be a song from the course but something that is relevant to you). And then, bit by bit, keep slowly pushing.

You just hit a first rough patch, there will be many more and it is normal. I can stuck for days, weeks sometimes even months on specific songs.

Find something simple that you would like to learn, unlock it, have some fun with it, keep practicing it and in the same time keep advancing. There are songs in which I invested hundred or more hours and still don’t feel I’m ready to record it, but I feel like they are getting better and if I keep pushing one day I will get there.

Not sure if it helps but the songs are biggest motivators for me, particularly those I can emotionally relate to. Maybe all you need is your theme song? :smiley:

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Welcome!
I feel like all of us are feeling what you’re describing or have gone through it. I’ve kinda gotten used to the highs and the lows, for me there are days when my hands feel like they’re flying and doesn’t take much to get excited about playing/learning, other days I can’t seem to get in the groove and think I should play a lot better for the time I put into it by now.

In my experience (which isn’t much) sometimes you have to take a step back and reflect on it(I believe some other friendly user used the word reset), think about what made you pick up the guitar, try to listen to some new music…

Also this is a personal tip that works for me, sometimes it’s hard for me to get in the mood to play to a song from a record, and I look up covers on youtube to play along with it, may sound silly but it really helps.

I’d also advice recording yourself and sharing it with the community, we tend play better than we think, and there’s always useful tips.

Cheers and sorry for the long post :sweat_smile:

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That was a great article - thanks for sharing!

Hi Inge,

Long story short, yes! What you are describing is something I think almost all of us go through. In fact, I venture to say that a lot of us are going through what you describe most of the time! There are a few strategies that can help keep you going.

When you are feeling particularly frustrated by lack of progress, sometimes it can help to go back to something you learned at an earlier stage that seemed really difficult at the time. Maybe you moved forward but felt like you hadn’t really mastered what you were working on. Go back now and try whatever that was again. Most of the time what you discover is that it is easier now than you remember and you are better at it than before. I do this often and it gives me a little boost because I can see that I am better at something today than I was before.

Another tip is to remind yourself that you picked up the guitar to have fun with it. If you are not having fun with it, do something different. If you are in a rut with practice, change your practice routine. Some days I decide to just make noise with the guitar and abandon any structured practice. Instead of one-minute-chord changes, maybe I’ll pick two chords and do something goofy like STRUM! STRUM! STRUM! STRUM! —CHANGE!— STRUM! STRUM! STRUM! STRUM! —CHANGE!— STRUM! STRUM! STRUM! STRUM! —ETC. Just absolute rubbish, mindless noise. It flushes some of the frustration. After banging away for 5 minutes or so, I set the guitar down and spend a minute and do some deep breathing exercise with my eyes closed. Then I let out one last long exhale and open my eyes and I’m ready for a good practice session. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Something else is to try to forget about what you can’t do and forget about how many things you think you need to be working on. Pick one thing that you are going to work on right now. Don’t work on anything else in this moment. Maybe it is one verse of a particular song, maybe it is only a bar or two of that song. Maybe it is one chord change. When you are feeling like there is too much to do, eliminate everything except the one thing you are working on right now. Everything else will still be there, and you’ll eventually get to it, but right now you can only work on one thing. I think the buzzword here is mindfulness; being in the now. I kind of hate the word, but appreciate the philosophy and technique.

Don’t let yourself get too discouraged (easily said, right?). I will admit that when I started this learning journey I didn’t think it would be as hard as it is — and make no mistake, it IS hard! I saw how many people can play the guitar and thought “hey, all of them can do it, how hard can it be? Those people are no better than me!” Well, I quickly realized that almost all of “those people” worked very hard and practiced many hours to do this. There is no magic to it — you just push through the frustration and keep working at it and slowly slowly slowly you gain skill and confidence.

Lastly, just accept that there is no timetable for this. There is no “normal” pace for learning. Some people will learn much more rapidly than you, others not so much. You have the rest of your life to enjoy having that guitar in your hands, the feel of those strings under your fingers.

If you stick with Justin’s course and allow yourself to go slowly and take as long as you need to take, you’ll do fine. If you feel like you “should” be able to do __________ because you’ve been playing for _______ months now, that’s when your frustrations will get the best of you.

Good luck!

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Welcome to the community Inge :smiley:

You’re in good company here, and whether we are a beginner or a more experienced player, we all walk the same path as you.

Progress and improvement isn’t always steady and smooth. There can be dips, discouragements and detours. Don’t let these things stop you from learning. There are some good suggestions here to help you with the times of frustration.

Most of all I’d encourage you to believe in yourself and to keep going in the pursuit of your dreams.

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Hello @Inge_guitar29 and welcome to the community.

You have hit the wall of frustration that is the one certainty in learning guitar.
For some people it is a massive wall with no way around, over or under. Their guitars go under beds, in attics and on ebay. For others it is a wall that can be scaled or navigated somehow. Be one of those.

Don’t worry about the two year marker. Concentrate on the fact you have one hour per day. Make that mental shift to throw off some of your nagging despair.
:slight_smile:

You don’t really tell us what specifically you have placed in your practice routine though you do name check some things you struggle with.

Practice what you can’t do - not what you can.

Go back through the Grade 1 lessons and identify the weaknesses you know you have from all the skills, techniques and essentials taught. Use this section Dynamics, Grooving + Consolidation! | JustinGuitar.com to then set up a tightly focused practice routine. Get those skills polished. Note it includes learning (memorising) easy songs. Learn songs, learn songs, learn songs. They are the backbone and raison d’etre of playing guitar.
Once you have a good grasp of these fundamentals, revisit Grade 2 and do similar - only spend even more time on the consolidation of this bigger Grade.

Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

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Inge

I think we all go through this throughout our never ending learning journey. At the beginning I think its harder as there seems so much to do, so much to practice and so much you don’t know. But hang in there. Your mojo will return.

Lots of good advice here but break things down into smaller short objectives. Go back over what you have learnt (you will appreciate how far you have actually come) and assess the areas that need work. Focus on those for development but keep the other skills simmering by learning songs.

When I did the old classic Beginners Course, everyone seemed hung up on how long it was going to take and many seemed to just blast through it, skipping a lot of important detail, easy tell with the questions folk ask ! I lost my mojo many times and when back to the start on 3 occasions and started all over again, it took me close to 2 years. And I am doing the same now, with all the new material that Justin has added to all the courses I have done. Just started Grade 3. And he keeps adding more !!! So it never harms to go back. You’ll catch things you may have missed in lessons (especially in the text sections) or discover things that need adjustments.

Mojo will always ebb and flow. Stop, assess, review, re-evaluate, restart. :smiley:

Cheers

Toby
:sunglasses:

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Hoi Inge … @Inge_guitar29
Nice someone from the Netherlands, they are well hidden here ,I think.
The thea is ready here for you, but even though we live in the middle, our country is not that ridiculously small, after all, it is not Belgium :relaxed:
You’ve gotten plenty of tips, so I don’t need to add anything more to that…sometimes face to face can help to exchange tips, in the short time I’ve been with justin I’ve seen almost every video… …her and there I skipped something but I must have had 98%…no, of course I don’t play everything and certainly not very well…but showing the way should work… .but as you notice you only have to ask for something here and the help is offered to you by many … by the way, that of those … Tea … I mean that…Don`t give up.
Greetings Rogier

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Hello Inge and welcome to the community.

I fully understand where you are coming from and my story is not so different to yours.
In fact I have been on the same module now for 10 months (with a 9 month break in-between) due to hitting this giant wall that Close2U describes and it was difficult to find motivation to jump back into the course.
I still played during this period, but it was the same songs on the app, then one day my Mojo returned and I am now enjoying the learning again. My challenge’s are still there with the F chord and strumming, but I quite happy to make small progress rather than big leaps.
Good luck and remember, we maybe on separate journeys but we are all here to help you along your path.

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Welcome to the Community, Inge.

So much encouragement and suggestions already shared.

I have taken my time, feel I progress slowly, but I progress.

In your practice routine, perhaps following some tips from Justin’s lesson on this in Grade 3, I’d suggest not working on too many techniques at the same time. Perhaps concentrate on the E-shaped barre. Similarly when learning songs, spend more time on a few. I think focused effort helps.

It may also help to start a Learning Log to share progress (#community-hub:learning-logs) and like others have said, sharing recordings is invaluable (#all-about-your-music:audio-video-of-you-playing) Recordings are not expected to be perfect, we are all learning, nor professional quality, just a simple video made with a smart phone is all you need.

Wish you well as you continue the adventure.

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I’d echo others and say take your time and focus on small things each time. So I really wouldn’t worry about barre chords for a while. You can play loads of songs without them and manage using a different F where needed (the only other chord that crops up often is a Bm but that is not so bad to play).

Focus on getting your open chords working well A, D, E, C, G and you minor Am, Dm, Em that’ll open up a host of songs for you. Pick some SIMPLE songs you like. Don’t worry about following along with the App (unless you want to) just get the chord progressions (either online or invest in one of Justin’s books) and start there. Justins site and books are good because they are targeted at beginners, intermediate etc.

Take one or two songs and just learn those. That will give you a lot of confidence and something you can keep coming back to improve. When you are comfortable THEN move on to some of the more advanced techniques and songs. Above all take it slowly.

It too me a long long time (years) to play barre chords comfortably BUT it didn’t stop me playing guitar, learning songs and posting them here in the community. It shouldn’t stop you either.

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I will add my morning thoughts.

If you are interested enough, of course you can.

This applies to nearly anything.

People always say “you are a doctor, you must be super smart”, as if I am special. But, although I am reasonably and normally intelligent, I am not exceptional. What I was (and am) is interested enough to learn what I needed to learn and persevere through the training, however difficult.

People who fail at becoming doctors or guitar players (mostly) did not have the interest or will to get through the tough parts. It is pretty unlikely that they were unable to, it just is hard and if you don’t like it it is that much harder.

But if you love it, you will succeed, because of course you can!

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Hi Inge and welcome. You already have lots of great advice, so I have nothing to add there. What I’d like to add is that this feeling is something that I expect to be with all of us for as long as we continue with the guitar. You never stop learning, there’s always another hill to climb. Don’t let it get you down, reframe it as another opportunity to improve, to find new ideas and techniques, to increase your skills. For me, if I ever get to the point that I “know” there’s nothing else to learn, then I’ll just pack up the guitar and check it off as being DONE. (I hope that never happens!)

Glen

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Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me and tips! You make me feel a lot better about my journey after I read all of this. It is very comforting to hear that everyone goes through these rough patches where you feel a little lost in everything there is to learn and video’s to check.

I will try to record myself playing this weekend and post it on the part of the community forum that is reserved for that. Will be the first time ever so I will try to find the guts put it out there :wink:

Best wishes to all of you!
Inge

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Hey Rob, that is probably the best answer I have seen to the “how long does it take” question. I’ve never looked at the hubguitar site - looks like a pretty comprehensive reference site.

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Yeah its such a hard subject.

Do you have a live in teacher, just online, only a book, no learning at all?

Then there is some natural ability and ability to learn to be factored in, not all of us will be Sach regardless of time spent

None of that should hold people back from creating music though!