I’ve played guitar as a “sometimes” hobby for many years, but never really worked at improving. I retired at the end of 2020 and decided to take it more seriously. About 18 months ago I found Justin Guitar and have dedicated 5-6 hours a week to really learning how to play. I’ve learned a lot during that time and have definitely made significant progress.
I assume others experience the same issue I have and wonder what you do about it. Most days I play well and am quite pleased with the progress I’ve made. I play several Grade 4 and 5 songs pretty well. But every once in a while I have a day or a few days together where I can barely play a simple Grade 1 song. I lose my rhythm and/or mangle simple chords. Does this happen to others? What do you do about it?
I think everyone has days where all cylinders aren’t firing, or you’re simply not feeling it. When that happens to me I usually spend the practice time on something else, like studying music theory, or learning something new about recording, or ear training, et cetera.
Hey Greg. Good to hear from you. I’ve been playing over a decade now and go through that as well. Most days I play well and make progress. Every now and then there’s a day where all I can say on a family friendly forum is that I suck at it. While it’s not common, it does happen often enough that I have tried to work out a pattern or explanation for it. So for nothing really makes sense. Thankfully it’s happened enough for me to know it’s only temporary and it doesn’t get to me as it used to. Maybe sing along to Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.
What Jason @J.W.C said…
For me, satisfaction comes primarily from what I experience over a period of time. Sometimes I do something particularly well and that gives me an immediate boost, but I don’t pay it much mind when I have an off day. When I do, like Jason, I work on other things: transcribing, tools (e.g. Guitar Pro, DAW), looking for new songs to learn, reading background material on songs that I’m currently learning, whatever. Its such a target-rich environment. Being retired gives me the luxury to explore whatever I want with no time pressure. Enjoy the journey.
I’ve definitely ben there Greg. When those days are obvious I just don’t bother, just noodle a little, or do some theory stuff rather than try and achieve anything playing-wise. What I do know, however, is those bad days are balanced by others where I feel like I can play anything!! In between, and the majority, are where I’m plodding along and progressing as I should but always smiling because I’ve got a lovely instrument in my hands!
The key is to not let these rubbish days get you down and remembering you’re still awesome
Some of my days are definitely better than others. It’s most noticeable when doing techniques to a metronome - how cleanly I can play at a certain tempo.
What to do about it… I basically just persevere. Stick with the practice routine at a slower bpm. Play a few easy songs in a row. I’ve noticed that if I have a big guitar day, I almost always fully warm up and get to proper playing (for my level at least). Sometimes it just takes longer.
Some days I don’t play long enough to get up to speed, so just do what I can.
I figure guitar is like most other things in life where you have good days and bad days.
Some days are just laughable for me - like finger 2 totally missing the fretboard aiming for a D chord. On days like that, I go back to grade 1 practice for a few minutes and that often does a proper reset for me.
When the reset doesn’t work, I either don’t really feel like playing or I have something on my mind taking up concentration time. In those cases, I handle the item on my mind if possible and come back, I fiddle with tone (electric guitar) so I don’t need to deal with accuracy, or I just go do something else - that doesn’t happen very often.
If you still feel like you want a “practice”, then you can take a few minutes throughout your day and go mentally through what you are learning. I do this every evening as I go to bed and every morning as I wake up. It is useful as well on days you just can’t hit the strings as you want.
It definetely happens to me…sometimes it’s like I feel my brain needs a break and I tend to play less and do more structured practice, slowing it down, eg more finger gym or chord changes for the song I’m learning. So I’m still happy with myself at the end of the day. Thanks for sharing this, so we are in good company on the same boat (not sure this idiom exists in the english language…)