Guitar Lessons

Let's talk about this...

Last week I was live in our YGA Club doing a full blown Q&A session will all of our wonderful Club members. It was a great session, and we all had a great time exploring a range of topics. About 10 minutes into the session, a beautiful comment popped up, that gave me a lot of food for thought. The comment was:

"I feel like I should be a better player by now, how can I progress?"

What I loved about this question was the brutal honesty of it, and how brave the individual was to ask such a question in a room full of student learners. I gave my answer at the time, but I wanted to take this question and create a separate video on it for YouTube, so here we are!

"Should" is simply an expectation.

Now then, there are a lot of ways to approach this question, and later on I'll give you some very practical tips. However, the first thing I want to address is the concept of "should". Should, as a concept, is nothing more than expectation. In this example, the student expected that they would be better than they currently are. Some how, along their journey so far they have formed an opinion that the level they are at is not good enough for the amount of time they have been practicing.

When you hear it back like that, how does it make you feel? We can ask a few questions, like "where did this opinion come from?", "why does it matter?". In terms of where it came from, it could be so many things, but on whole I imagine it stems from comparison. Let's address comparison first…

Try to avoid comparison.

In our digital world, it's very easy to start comparing yourself to the countless other guitar players online. If I fire up our Instagram account and scroll through the content, I could start to believe that every single guitar player on the planet is unbelievably good. So good, in fact, that I could start to wonder why I'm not that good in comparison to these guys. I could start to wonder that, or I could realise that this is a true minority of guitar players in the world.

I mean, they deserve the accolade. They've very likely devoted an obscene amount of time to practice, they nurtured their musicality, worked with mentors, probably worked through some kind of musical degree, and absolutely deserve to be that good! But you need to remember, they have got to that platform by putting in endless hours of hard work, prioritising the guitar over everything else in their life.

Of course, we just see that beautifully polished final take, 20 years in the making.

So the thing to remember here is that we have absolutely no idea what went into these epic performances online, and we would be very wise to not draw direct comparison to ourselves. I know, after year of helping thousands of guitar students on their journeys, that each one is totally unique. There are of course similar threads across all, but everyones experience is different, and therefore it would be impossible to truly compare, or A B test (if you like a bit of tech talk!) two peoples journey on the guitar.

So, with that said, let's jump back to this idea of expectation.

If we can establish that expectations have often come from comparisons in the guitar world, and we now know how unnecessary and unfair that is, then we can start to question, and potentially let go of the expectation.

Really, if you approach your guitar journey always expecting something, all that will happen is friction. There will be resistance and you'll always be questioning what you're doing, and how well you're progressing. If we can simply drop that idea, which I would like to say is definitely a process and not an easy thing to do, then we can realise that our focus should actually be enjoying where we are, and be excited to improve as we continue our own journey.

Practical ideas to get moving past this question

Now then, I want to also say, after my epic speech on expectation, that this is all very human, and very very normal. We all do it, and it would be wrong to say that you can just stop doing it! Instead, we can set out some really practical ideas to help us move past this question. The next time you notice yourself asking it, you'll realise that you don't need to indulge it at all!

Step 1: A pathway

I'm a big believer in having a pathway of learning. For me, with a very active mind, this really helps me know that I don't need to indulge all the doubts, all the questions, and just sit down and focus on the work in front of me. This is what we provide to you in the YGA Club. We deliver you a pathway of learning that will provide you with confidence that you will hit your goals, and a beautiful structure to allow you to do that. It can be done in your time, on your schedule. Most importantly, it allows you to relax and enjoy the journey. You know that if you do the work, in whatever time you have, you'll get there!

Step 2: Mentorship

Another crucial element is to have an individual or a group of people around you that are further along the journey than you. These are your mentors! Again, this is what we provide in the Club, and I consider it the most important part of the whole thing! Your mentor has been exactly where you are. They've had the bumps in the road, found ways round the issues and are now there to help you do the same. That counts for guitar skills in general, as well as advice for dealing with the lumps and bumps!

Step 3: Commit to some kind of practice schedule

Now then, when it comes to practice, you have to be honest with yourself. If you find yourself at a point in your life where you have a lot of free time, then great. If you find yourself at a point in your life where you have very little free time, then great! It actually doesn't matter, as long as you are honest with yourself about it, and you work with it.

For example, I have a very busy job, a family, kids etc etc… Finding 10 minutes a day can sometimes be tough. Therefore, as long as I'm honest with myself and I say "I will do 10 minutes a day" then that's all groovy. I know full well that in those 10 minutes I won't make as much progress as someone who can commit to an hour, but i don't care! I don't compare to others. I can only do what I can do, now. Those 10 minutes will all add up over the course of months, and you will see progress, especially when you use those 10 minutes to work through your pathway and use our mentors.

If it is an hour or more a day that you can do, that's great news. Commit to it as often as you can, use your pathway and focus on your own journey.

Finally, be kind.

I cannot express enough how important it is to be a voice of kindness to yourself as a guitar student. I've recently done a lot of jam days, meeting incredible students from all over the UK. Each and every one of them is so supportive to each other. Happily able to express how well someone else is doing. However, when it comes to talking about themselves, it's often negative! I express how important it is to treat yourself the same way you would treat others.

Pat yourself on the back when you complete a practice session. Try to list one or two things that you think you did really well! Of course, it's human nature to want to be critical and analytical, and that's ok, but balance it out with the good stuff too!

You are doing a great job. Remember that the guitar is a passion, it's music, it's art & it's creative. There will be days when you really feel it, and days when you hate the thing! I'm exactly the same. It's all part of that journey my friends, so embrace it! I wish you all the best, and I'll speak to you soon.

Motivation, Guitar Journey