Why am I losing all motivation?
Kevin: “What should you do when you’re learning a song and it won’t work and you feel like you’re just too bad at playing and lose all motivation. What should you do when this happens?”
Thanks for your question Kevin! Well it’s an interesting but very complex question since there are so many different aspects involved. I’ll try keeping it short 🙂 and go into more details in further blog articles!
Identify and face the problem!
I promise, the identification of the problem won’t take long. So let’s get straight down to business. The very bad news first: you have a problem, and the problem is you! The very good news: there’s one solution, and the solution is you! Sounds quite easy isn’t it? No song is too hard to play. Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. If a song is too difficult for you, well, it’s simply too difficult … for you. Meaning, don’t blame the song, don’t blame the writers, don’t blame lack of time, don’t blame the weather or even the postman … just blame yourself. Face reality and be honest: you’re just not good enough. Not yet! If a song has been written and played by a human being before, one day you should be able playing it as well! No doubt! You, and only you have the solution, possible skills and power in your own hands.
The right playing technique!
In short! Every music student should be accompanied by a professional coach. Just to make sure you are using the right playing and guitar technique. I will not go into details on this subject in this article. I’ll do it later on. For now, let’s assume you do have a personal music trainer.
What’s the reason and your motivation?
Why did you choose that song? How bad are you willing to die playing this song? Are you really dedicated bringing your guitar skills to that particular level, being able to play that particular song? Is there a certain reason why you wanna master that song? Maybe it’s for someone you love, for a gig, for a funeral or just for yourself. If all answers are no, then there is lack of reason, motivation and dedication, and I suggest simply choosing another song. If a song isn’t one of your very favorites or there isn’t a certain goal set, it will be quite impossible reaching the finish line.
Make promises, not only to yourself.
Something very important is making promises. Not only to yourself, but also to the people around you. If you wanna achieve a certain goal, tell everyone your plans. Tell everyone that on a particular day <date> you will master or achieve this goal. Even post it on your social media. In this way, you just signed a contract with yourself. There is no way back. You took a boat and crossed the sea. You destroy the boat so you have two options left: turn around drowning in the sea, or step forward, go, fight and win this battle.
Write down your goals, stay focused.
If you’re dedicated playing a certain song, make it a goal, and divide it into smaller steps … smaller goals. Many small steps make one giant leap. Break down the song into pieces, start practicing blocks of 2 bars. Once you master 4 times 2 bars, connect 2 blocks. Keep practicing those 2 times 4 bars. Once you master them, connect those blocks again and master the 8 bars. Keep it slow! Start each phase at 50% tempo or even less. If you’re not able playing a song at that tempo, you won’t be able going faster anyway. Write down your goals and your tempo every day. Put this piece of paper on the wall, somewhere where you can see it all day. In this way you won’t forget your promise, and you can follow up your progression.
Exercise on a regular basis!
Do your guitar exercises and the song practice every day. You have to train your brain, knowledge, ears, memory and motor skills regularly. Playing a musical instrument is unnatural. We’re not born or pre-programmed with guitar skills. The only way mastering something in your life is by repetitive practice. So practice at least 6 days a week. You have no time today? Well, just do it for 5 minutes! It’s better than nothing. You’re not at home and have no guitar to practice? Even that is no excuse! Just visualize your exercises. It is scientifically proven that visualizing your training has almost the same results as real exercising.
Be positive and reward yourself.
Never ever use words like: I can’t, I’ll try, it’s not working, it’s too difficult, too hard, maybe, fail, I’m bad, etc. Every day, every time you practice, repeat the words to yourself: I can do it, I will do it, I will improve, I will achieve this goal. Like I said before, cut your goal (the song) into smaller pieces. Reward yourself if you achieved each step or goal, for example: “When I master 16 bars of this song today, in the right tempo with no mistakes, I’ll go to Mc Donalds tonight.” Sounds funny right? But rewarding works! How do you train a dog 😉 ?
Always with drums or metronome!
Timing is everything. If you don’t practice with a rhythm track (drums or metronome), it will be very hard playing in a band one day. When practicing increase the tempo no more than +5bpm each time. For instance, start at 50bpm until you master 8 bars at this tempo, meaning you should feel very relax at this speed and be able look around while playing with no mistakes. After that, start your journey at 50bpm as a warm-up, increase the tempo to 55bpm, and then push your limit to 60 bpm until it hurts your brain. When getting frustrated, you should stop for that day or choose a different song or exercise.
Once you get frustrated you won’t even catch 30 bpm that day ;-). A few days later, do your warm-up at 55bpm, increase to 60bpm, and push your limits to 65bpm. Continue like this until you reach the real tempo. My personal opinion is, if you wanna play with a relax feel at the real speed, you should be able playing the song at 110%. The 100% tempo should be your cruising speed, not your limit.
Last but not least: record, evaluate, and watch yourself grow!
Record yourself! You need no heavy recording device or a complete music studio these days. Just use your smartphone, tablet, iPhone, iPad or whatever i-something and film yourself. It is impossible to play and listen to yourself at the same time. Play it first, and then listen, watch and judge your guitar playing – or even send your recording to your guitar teacher for evaluation 🙂 ! Also, I suggest you keep all recordings for afterwards doing a before and after comparison. When you’re in doubt again, or you’re feeling down, compare your first and last recording – watch yourself grow!
As promised, I’ll go into more details later on!
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Baustein aka Manic Youth
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