We all go through it sometimes, struggling to stay motivated to keep working on the guitar. Everyone knows you should practice regularly to get good at something. But if you are anything like me, some days you just don't feel any inclination to start practicing at all!
Some of the reasons for this lack of motivation could be due to the following:
- Life could be really busy, and the guitar takes the back seat
- You might feel you’re not progressing enough
- You could just feel you’re in a guitar playing rut
This is completely normal! And it will happen several times over the course of your guitar playing journey. The key to enjoying learning and playing guitar is to get through the dips in motivation.
Today I’m going to share with you five things I found to help me stay motivated. This isn’t an exclusive or definitive list. In fact, I would love for you to share the ways you stay motivated in the comments!
But with all my years of playing, here are the ways I’ve been able to stay motivated.
1. Create Short-Term Goals
Creating attainable short-term goals can go a long way to keep you motivated. It gives you something practical to work on. It doesn’t need to be anything lofty.
Just make sure the goal is Specific, Measurable, and Time Bound.
For example, let’s say you want to work on playing an exercise faster. Set an ideal tempo you want to hit, and give yourself 30 days. Slowly speed up the metronome throughout the 30 days. You have a specific goal (speed), a way to measure it (tempo), and it's bound to a time (30 days).
It can also encourage to chart your progress along the way. How fast did you play it on day one? Or fifteen? Seeing how far you've come can give you a boost of motivation.
If you'd like to try it, and I encourage you to give it a shot, here’s a link so you can download the chart for yourself.
2. Commit to Daily Practice
I like to schedule my practice times. I know that if I don’t schedule my practice times, there’s a good chance they won’t happen!
Schedule 10-15 minutes per day at a time that works for you. A lot of times 10-15 minutes turns into a lot more. It’s OK if it doesn’t though. Just by setting aside this time, you’re creating a habit. This habit is a powerful tool to help you progress in your guitar playing.
Regular practicing turns into regular progress. Seeing your progress and growth is highly motivating.
3. Change Your Practice Routine
If you work on the same things every time you pick up your guitar, you’ll get a little unmotivated or bored. It's refreshing to work on something new.
I like to add something new to my practice routine every week. This could be a new exercise for something you’re already working towards (like speed). Or something entirely different.
If you’ve been working hard on scales, try to learn a finger picking song or pattern for a week. You’ll find that when you go back to the scales, it will feel fresh. The newness keeps you interested and engaged. And of course makes you a more well-rounded player.
4. Give Lessons a Try
This is especially useful if you don’t currently have a structured lesson plan. Learn new techniques or styles and don’t know where to begin. Having a qualified instructor makes all the difference. You’re not left wondering where you should go next in your playing.
If you prefer a go-at-your-own-pace lesson style, and especially if you’re new to guitar playing, try a structured online course. Structured lesson plans build a solid foundation. And they help keep you engaged and motivated.
5. Seek Inspiration From Every Direction
Good movies have a way of giving us inspiration. They transcend entertainment and become motivation for us. Themes of excellence, persistence, and overcoming obstacles can carry a lot of weight in our real-world lives.
I recently saw Bohemian Rhapsody. Watching all the great guitar players gave me a great deal of inspiration. It made me want to go home and play guitar. It’s a wonderful thing.
(The 1980s Crossroads movie with Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai is another one, though very different.)
Bonus Words Of Wisdom
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it comes from years of experience.
Everyone feels more motivated and less motivated. This is completely normal.
Early on, I used to beat myself up if I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. I realize now that it just makes things worse. I encourage you to allow yourself to feel the ebbs and flows of the guitar playing journey without going into guilt mode.
It’s okay to take a break sometimes. You could take a break in the middle of your practice session. It could also mean taking several days off from playing your guitar.
This may sound like it goes against some of my earlier advice, but it doesn’t. I’m talking about strategically taking a break every once in a while. Removing the ‘burden’ of practicing and making it fun again when you come back.
This, combined with a regular practice schedule and setting short-term goals, could be just the thing to give you a boost. And if you come back at it reinvigorated, you’ll be a better guitar player for it.
I hope this list gave you some good ideas to work on. Just by reading this, you made another step in your guitar playing journey. Good job!
And thanks for being a part of this community. If you have something that helps keep you motivated and inspired, let us know in the comments.
(I’d especially love to know the movies that you’ve found inspiring!)
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We would love to hear your comments and questions. What specific things are you struggling with while learning guitar?