We often read about people saying they quit playing for years then coming back. I just wondered if we all hit the same or different walls, so to speak. Maybe getting to grips with chords, trying to learn scales or barre chords. Mine was never getting those chord changes smooth. After TWO YEARS.
Most, if not everyone, have moments of self doubt. For me it is always the lack of progress, there can be weeks of practice when nothing happens, making the same mistakes in the same places, getting one acceptable pass on 20 or more attempts, etc. And the worst thing to do is to start comparing to others, this does not help, it just deepens the depression.
Good thing is that this does not lasts forever, these dreaded weeks/months of stagnation will eventually pass and progression will be back. Only thing to do is keep pushing and have faith.
It could be one of a thousand things. For me, I quit for about 10 years and am just now getting back into it as a more senior (62) enthusiast. At the time, I couldn’t find an instructor that could teach this old dog any new tricks. The young kid instructors didn’t really have the experience to deliver the instruction in a way that was effective for me.
I think the rapid chord changes were probably the biggest issue for me. Now that the internet is fast enough for streaming and we have a lot of fantastic instructors out there online, I am giving it another go. I really like the JustinGuitar instruction; and this supportive community is top notch. I feel like I am making some slow but steady progress.
I have also been listening to another instructor. Regarding the rapid chord changes, he suggested altering the order you put your fingers down on the strings to get your muscle memory to kick in. It seems to be working and I am trying to get this down for the common chords. He says if you are putting your fingers on the strings for a chord in order 1-2-3, also use 3-2-1, 2-1-3, 3-1-2, etc. What I’ve found is that after a few minutes, my fingers start hitting the appropriate strings at the same time. This allows for much quicker chord changes.
I have found the same thing. When I (finally) realize that I am having trouble because one finger or another is lagging l, I slow way down and force that finger to go first. Then slowly, I start getting closer to that “all fingers at the same time” goal.
It requires a lot of intent, though.
For me, my previous three or four attempts at learning failed because of boredom, because I became bogged down with the chord change speed-rhythm issue. Then I would sidetrack into looking at new songs or riffs to play, but never becoming any good at any of them. Wasn’t fun any more because of the lack of achievement.
This past year or two, I’ve slowed down my skill building speed, focusing on working on those trouble chord changes, and also on my strumming and rhythm, which were God awful before I discovered the metronome. Is it normal to continually speed up if you are playing without a metronome ?
Following Justin’s advice of learning at your own speed has been my mantra - seems to be working. I keep a guitar log and try and put an entry in it every day. Lately, some or all of my playalong practice songs, with a short chord change runaround first to warm up. I miss the odd day, but usually I get a half hour or more in, and try to end with something easier to leave on a positive note. The very least I try to do if I’m not up for a session is to pick up the guitar for five or ten minutes and just practice some chord changes or riffs.
I’ve been keen to move on to Grade 2, but want to get these songs down so I’m happy with them first, and playing the songs is great skills practice. As a final motivator to not stop, I try to remember how great it is to not have to go through the callus building time again. Nothing worse than sore, soft fingers each time you restart playing after stopping for awhile !
I’ve never quit. There have been times where I don’t practice or play as often as I’d
like but I have never totally quit.
I have found over my 45+ years of playing most people quit because they don’t
play with other people. I’ve been lucky I have always had people to Jam with. For example
on Saturday My wife and I went to a friend house with another couple and 2 singles.
5 guitar players out of 6 people. Played from 3:00 until 10:00 with a break for supper.
The home owner is a great cook.
On New Years Eve we went to a Friend House about 10 people 4 played guitar. Started playing
at 8:00 and Quit at 2:00.
So if you can try and play with others as much as you can. I know with this pandemic it’s hard
but I think that’s the secret to success.
Exactly me. Thank you.
These responses are excellent. It actually helps a lot to hear people suffering the same issues. Along with golf this must be the most masochistic hobby there is
I don’t come from a background of having played before, beyond some random strumming when I lived in a place where a guitar was present.
But what I am trying to do now, because I don’t plan to quit, is enjoy the process. Sure, I would like to be a decent player someday, but learning is super fun too.
A little like skiing. My goal skiing is not to get to the bottom of the run. It is to enjoy the run while I do it.
Mine drop off was actually caused by lack of progress and fundamentals/structure. With those so far I am keeping momentum strong and even if I stumble ahead it still keeps me interested and motivated to push further. Hope it lasts
For me it was a combo of shifting environments - left uni and quite a group of other musicians to play with, and a lack of progress/growth with few resources to progress.
Shifted my creative outlet elsewhere for a while…
For me it was the lack of progress as it’s already been said, and some moments when I was not very excited about music and had to wait for the “passion” to come back.
Good ideas Thanks.Ill give that a go
I see variations of this comment a lot.
Sometimes I wonder why I am learning this stuff… Since pandemic time started, I have begun learning guitar, electric bass, and we are even taking singing lessons. I am also studying music theory. (I played an instrument for years in school and can read music more or less, but you don’t learn theory in marching band!)
But I have no desire to perform, nor even to play with other people. (Perhaps that is because I still can’t imagine myself being skilled enough to do that… how can you jam if it takes you a minute to change chords, haha.)
I do wonder where my music journey will take me since I’m not really interested in the social aspect. Even if I become semi-skilled it may be the ceiling on my development.
Matt you don’t need to be a rock star to play around a campfire or jam with a buddy over
a couple of beers.
There is nothing wrong with learning and playing just for your own enjoyment but I have
found music is more fun if you share it., Even if your not very good. Simple songs are
just as enjoyable to the listener as complicated ones.
The main thing is to have fun even if it’s by yourself.
I would not be surprised if many of us older beginners are less concerned about playing with others and certainly we are more likely to be doing this for personal enjoyment rather than some dream to be a rock star. That ship sailed so long ago.
I am pretty self motivated at this stage of my life, but the few times I have even attempted to play with someone else, however pitiful I may have been, it was super fun.
I wouldn’t mind having a jam buddy or three at all. It would be fun and yes, probably would learn faster. Although I am not going to give up without it.
It is just not in my circle at this time. I am a year in and still not very good, anyone else in the Denver area?
I started with classical guitar. I love playing a nylon guitar…buuut I also love all types of guitar styles. Eventually after some time reading and playing classical pieces I had some fancy fingering and improved sight reading, but I had absolutely no idea how to play anything up the neck. I felt extremely lost and my teacher was helping much. i just stop every other year. the Classical method books where the most boring thing ever and felt like a chore rather than fun.
flash forward 10 years I bought a electric guitar and spend the first week learning the notes on the neck. Then just went straight into justins theory coarse and my mind just exploded. Learning the notes on the neck and when he taught about triads just unlocked years of mystery for me. Everything started coming together and making sense. I can play in multiple positions on the neck. I still need alot of time to spend learning songs. But I have a drive and understanding I never had following a boring method book.
For me, although I haven’t totally quit guitar, I know I tend to quit when something else comes along. Before guitar, I used up all my free time cycling. Once I started playing the guitar, I had decreased desire to ride my bike. Eventually I stopped cycling altogether. Before cycling I did yoga. Before yoga was ballet. Knitting was in there somewhere. Painting has come since.
I “could” keep doing everything; do a bit of this and a bit of that, but when I’m into something, I only want to do that one thing. I’m not sure why I’m like this, but I don’t think there’s a problem with it. I’m just wired this way. I don’t really consider myself a quitter, because everything I’ve learned is still in me, and affects everything else I do. And, I can always go back to it later.
There are probably many reasons people quit, but I think one of the common ones is that they’re in a situation where they’re not creating music. If you’re stuck there, then practice is just work and frustration with little or no reward. “Not creating music” can take multiple forms. Never playing with other musicians. Never writing songs. Maybe never learning complete songs. Never sharing your music with others. Et cetera. I think music is about sharing expression, emotion, experiences, etc. If you’re not getting that it can be tough to keep going. The big problem there is that many beginners don’t think they’re good enough to play with others, share their music, and so on. I think that’s unfortunate. I always encourage beginners to play with others early and often, before they think they’re ready. Not only will it speed their progress as a musician, but it’s satisfying, even if you’re contributing something very simple.
So my list of stuff for avoiding burnout (and possibly quitting) is something like this:
- Play with others as early and as often as you can.
- Share your music with others, even if it’s just your own family, at first.
- Write songs. If you can play two chords you can write a song.
- Make time to “just play” your guitar, separate from formal practice. Have fun and experiment.
A few years back, I was early into Justin course, I went shopping for a guitar. At the time I was trying to learn Stand By Me. I had the chords down and I was even able to play them with some sort of rhythm and since this was the best I could do at the time, that what I used to judge the sound of the guitars. So, I picked up a guitar that I was interested in and was strumming away (quietly). After playing for a while slowly I notice that the sound was changing, and I wasn’t doing anything different. Then I noticed that another customer, who was trying a bass, joined in and for about 5 minutes we just jammed together. It was an awesome experience.
As a newbie at the time, the thought of jamming with someone was the furthest thing from my mind. This impromptu jam session kept me on a high for several weeks. So the moral of the story is to be open to the experience and you may find that you actually really enjoy it even if the only song you can play is Stand By Me.