So dang discouraged 😖

Hey, folks. I’m wondering if there might be some encouraging words or tips for me. A few weeks ago, I seem to have hit a plateau in my guitar playing. I don’t seem to improve in anything anymore, no matter how much I practice. I am bogged down in the “Happy Birthday” fingerstyle especially. I’ve been practicing it almost daily for four weeks at least and can’t seem to play it well, let alone memorize it or internalize it as Justin recommends. Power chords are a bear for me, as much fun as I was once having, and even simple rhythm songs are bogging me down. It’s all very discouraging and frustrating as hell. I keep on plugging on, but it’s so bloody hard to stay motivated when there seems to be absolutely no progress anymore. Any tips, advice, or glasses of beer into which I can let my tears fall would be greatly appreciated. Thanks ahead of time


Do your best then move on. Paractice makes permanent not perfect. Move on to the next lesson and go back later. As you try and learn new things it may be easier when you circle back. You may discover new skills that you enjoy more. Have fun and enjoy the journey. The destination is always beyond the horizon epecially when learning the guitar. It’s never over unless you quit.


Are you learning a couple of songs, so that you can mix playing those songs in with the newer stuff you are working on? There are a ton of songs you can play with just a few chords. I think it’s important to enjoy things overall, so I would suggest finding some things about playing that are joyful for you, and not only work on the difficult things.


I think these plateaus and struggles are occasional normal parts of the process.

I agree with the suggestions to let go of a few things that you are struggling with.

Go find a few things that you feel good about and think are fun and just go there for a bit.

Happy birthday fingerstyle kicked my butt, too. It is ok to let it go.


you seem to be hovering on the same things too long.
Sometimes you need to give things a rest and move on.
You like the fingerstyle thing but you’re stuck on happy birthday?
Find some other tunes you like, even the ones that seem very simple to you and try to apply some fingerstyle to them instead of strumming. There is a myriad of songs out there where you can try to experiment.

It’s time to set some short and long term goals as well

Tell us what you wan to achieve in a couple of months and where you want to be in about 18 months.

Make a little SWOT of yourself (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

Try to mix a broad palette of exercises together:
songs, chord changes, finger strength, flexibility, playing with a metronome, finger independence, perhps the minor pentatonic scale and start some phrasing!

In other words:

A: Assess whare you are now and be honest
B: Determine where you want to go
define a path from A to B
Ask our help where needed in that process :wink:


Sorry to hear of your woes Benedict, though be assured we each, all of us, have our plateaux at times.
As has been said, move on, play and learn songs, trim out some of the frustrating stuff, SWOT and all that good stuff. make the music fun again. If that means holding firm where you are (skillwise) for a time so be it. Enjoy where you rae, you have earned the right to play what you can to the ability you currently have. Just breathe and do what that allows. Move in incrementally once you are ready.

Hey Benedict,

Sorry to hear that. Any time that i hit that stumbling block what I do is to go back to basics then once I have reset try again. Forget about Happy Birthday for the time being.

Focus on learning new songs using the skills that you have already gained. Think of it as another opportunity the good lord has presented for you to consolidate further.

Once you find your mojo again give Happy Birthday another go. This time take it one or two bars at a time. Focus on the chord shapes and patterns. Only move on to the next bar once you can play the other bars without looking at the tab.

In terms of improvement assess yourself on the basis of bar by bar rather than the whole song. Eventually you will get there and you will be drinking that beer to celebrate that great accomplishment as its not an easy tune to master at our level.

As for rhythm I thank the good lord for pointing me in the direction of Justin’s strumming techniques course and highly recommend it. In fact that course could be a nice little reset course for you.

As for power chords I cannot comment as I’m still on the fingerstyle module. But I would expect the same principles apply mate.

So don’t get bogged down. Reset and get back on the path to great guitar learning. You have done very well to get this far in 6 months.

And thats some great advice by @LievenDV and @Richard_close2u. Use your learning log to set yourself some SMART goals and use AVOYP to get feedback on achieving those goals.

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Move on to something else. Don’t get hung up about it. I’ve had a go at this and found that it is not easy, and probably not essential. Leave it for a bit and them come back to it. There are other fingerstyle songs to learn.


I like that. Never heard of it before though! Shall give it a go I think.


Hey Brozzerb,

You got this mate. Guitar is not easy, especially early on. The fact you’ve reached out means you’re aware of the problem, so you’re halfway there.

So, as mentioned, ditch Happy Birthday before it drives you round the bend. Plenty of other cool tunes to develop this skillset. You haven’t failed; you’re just using other songs to develop this.

Its all part of learning mate, and happens to all of us. And I believe it’s at these very times that breakthroughs are made.

All the best,
Cheers, Shane


Ifelt the same way about finger style of happy birthday. I spent about a month on it as well. I didn’t get better and I didn’t like it. So I stopped practicing it. I wrote down my goals which included the things I wanted to improve in, and set my practice based on that. I went through all of Justin’s beginner and intermediate classes. Finger style is my least favorite and I’m ok with it. That was 2 years ago. You put in the time, beginner courses provides a foundation but also helps you see what you like and what you don’t like.
And if you do like finger style, give yourself a break and come back to it later.


Progress isn’t linear. We all hit plateaus. Guitar is a long journey.

There are parts of guitar that are a challenge to level up on. Many, many parts. I think fingerstyle is one and power chords are another.

The happy birthday fingerstyle is tricky, when you get to it in the course it’s the most complex arrangement by far. However compared to some future songs, if you want to do more complicated songs, it’s not.

Banging over and over again on the same stuff isn’t fun.

If you’re anything like me, I’d say do some fun stuff for a while - whatever that while is, maybe a week, maybe more - and then come back to it so you can build the skills. Both fingerstyle and power chords are super good skills to have but hard to build. Like learning your first chords over again.


Another thought. Are you doing the easier stuff too? Eg are you doing Everybody Hurts and House of the rising sun fingerstyle as well as happy birthday?

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Complete the courses and then move on to special projects. Go back, start over and then move ahead. Complete the beginner consolidation. Move on to intermediate.


Play the stuff you enjoy, put other stuff aside for a bit.

Grade 2 consolidation is like 3-6 months worth of solid practice.


I’m picking up a lot of Good Friday reverb on this one-
But today is Easter :smiley:
Have faith, Brother. All will be good.
(oh yes, you’ll still have to practice :wink:)

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Oooo Brian ,I think we have a different definition of Good Friday then :speak_no_evil: :joy::innocent:
But ok, i read the good intentions too :wink: :sunglasses:, don’t give up Benedict, like a miracle you will shoot “automatically” through your ceiling, when you stay calm and keep practicing …
Have fun and a very happy easter wish everyone :hatching_chick: :hatched_chick: :sunflower:
Greetings ,Rogier


I’m currently in a phase where I am struggling to stay motivated. At such times I always change-up my practice routine. One of the things I’ve done this time is gone back to old stuff I never licked, in styles I typically don’t play at the moment but still like, helps reenergise things.

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The same thing happened to me around lesson 2 I think. I paused the lessons for a while and just started songs I really loved without regard to their difficulty - Wish You Were Hear, My Sweet Lord, Space Oddity, Mood for a Day, Stairway to Heaven. I chipped away at each one a bar at a time. Never thought I’d get some of the chord changes but my progress is noticable. Wish You Were Here seems easy now. I rewarded myself with an electric guitar. I have two guitars I love to play. Moving back and forth between them also helped me improve. Taking Justin’s Theory course propelled my learning tremendously. Learning theory gives your practicing an edge and it’s fascinating.

If you feel in a rut learn a new song, change guitars, practice some theory - basically do something different and something you enjoy. I’ve been struggling with the electric solo in Stairway to Heaven. I realized it’s not because it’s any harder than the rest of the song; but I just don’t like that part as much as the rest. I only play it once or twice a day now so I don’t forget it; and I just move on.


Yeah, I’m teaching myself a couple of Hank Williams tunes. I can do okay with them. Tried Cash’s version of “Hurt” but I’m having trouble with the semi-arpeggios in the verses… just can’t get them to sound right. I will try easier stuff and see where that goes

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