In life, we go on many adventures, and each one has its own ups and downs. One such adventure is the quest to learn to play the guitar, which helps us express ourselves and have fun while making music.
I want to share with you an intimate letter I wrote to my younger self, looking back on the early days of my guitar journey. I hope it inspires you to chase your own musical dreams and believe in yourself.
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Congratulations on your decision to play guitar. This decision will open the doors to a world of creativity and self-expression.
The guitar isn't just an instrument – it's a friend that will help you create amazing tunes straight from your heart.
Ultimately, it will be one of the best decisions you’ve made in your life, but not without its unique challenges.
Here are some things I want to tell you. My hope is it will inspire you to never give up your dream and to make your journey a little easier.
You will want to quit many times. Don't! You'll get through every apparent roadblock even though it may feel frustrating.
Don't compare yourself to others. It's a no win. Accept where you are and keep moving forward step by step; or what might feel more like inch by inch. There will always be better and worse no matter how good you are.
Let go of judging how fast or how slow you think you're progressing. You're always wrong. Your feelings at the moment cloud your judgment. Second, you can't do anything about the speed at which you learn. You can do something about putting in the practice time. Focus on making time to practice, being present and practicing effectively, and let the rest go.
Trust the process and stop second guessing yourself.
Be kind and patient with yourself. Imagine you are teaching someone you love. Now apply that same attitude to yourself. This will help resolve a lot of the angst and self-criticism.
Don't expect quick results. It's going to take time. Focus on putting the practice in (see the trend here?) Expect to practice something over and over, possibly a bazillion times (a slight exaggeration).
Get good at fundamentals. It's okay to try more advanced songs and techniques. I know that’s where the fun is. But put more time into practicing progressive exercises and getting constantly better at the basics. Over time, it will pay off and you’ll be glad you did.
It’s hard to believe, but you'll eventually be able to play things you can't even imagine now. It's human nature to overestimate what you can do in the short run but underestimate what you can accomplish with persistence in the long run.
Try to do a little every day, even if it's only 10 minutes. Keeping the practice habit going is important. Possibly more important than the amount of time you practice.
Make peace with the fact that you will never feel you're as good as you want to be, or as you think you should be. As quickly as you improve, you'll turn your sights on something harder. It's a good thing, but it's better to accept that you’ll never quite “arrive” rather than fight against it.
Don't stop (see paragraph #1). Keep taking baby steps no matter what your mental chatter is saying.
You will fall into the trap of regret for not starting earlier or practicing regularly over the past years. Remember this: You can’t go back, but in the future you’ll be looking back on this moment. What would you tell yourself?