Guitar Frustration: Why is this so Difficult?

Even for the most patient person, learning to play the guitar can be a challenge. The layout of the fingerboard will seem illogical, the techniques will take hours to establish, and without excellent instruction, the entire process will hardly seem user-friendly...

Pain, frustration, and embarrassment is what new students face when trying to play even the simplest nursery-rhyme song. Getting your fingers to find the right string on the right fret and applying the right pressure and tracking that with your pick is difficult. Getting your hand to make guitar chords is what it must feel like to recover from a traumatic head injury.

The guitar you are trying to learn has more than 90 notes divided among six strings that have only a dim relationship to the other strings. The same note can be played on several different strings but finding the note you need to play can be like finding a cab in New York City when it rains.

The difficulty that the guitar presents is magnified when you combine learning music with learning the guitar. Some people know a lot about music and how it is put together but they still struggle to get their fingers to form chords in time with the music.

Trying to learn the guitar without knowing about notes, scales and chords is a lot like trying to learn about sign language while blindfolded.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from learning the guitar. Just the opposite. I want you to understand that for every gifted guitarist, there are 99 other guitarists who deal with a lot of frustration. You have to understand this, otherwise you will judge yourself too harshly and you'll give up one of the most rewarding things you can do in life – play guitar.

The secret to playing the guitar well is the same as life. You get out of it what you put into it. If you understand that and you are willing to feel pain, frustration, and embarrassment at least 15-20 minutes a day, you can learn to play a song, and eventually a lot more.

If you can spend over an hour a day, you can work yourself up to playing in a band. If you can spend four hours a day, you can be a rock star, eventually. If you can spend, six hours a day you can be jazz master, eventually. If you spend eight hours a day, you can be virtuoso.

Playing even just a small segment of a song on the guitar is fun and those "fun" moments are what motivates us to do more practicing. General guitar practice is something anyone can do, but it can be difficult to push yourself further and further along when you are a beginner. This is why it is important to understand what you can expect from practice and how to focus more of your attitude on "fun."

At some point as a beginner, you may think that you are not cut out to play guitar, and that none of this feels like "fun" at all. Perhaps you will think that other beginners must play better than you. Maybe you'll even make up excuses for why you can't get good at guitar.

Ask someone who you know that plays the guitar 'how difficult it was' for them to learn. Even if they have been playing for a while, they will never forget how utterly impossible it felt in those early days.

If they're lying, they will tell you that they did not have much trouble. They might even tell you it was easy. But, nobody finds it easy. Learning guitar is about dedicating yourself to those tiny slivers of "fun" that show up along the way. Those periods are your fuel and that is what ultimately keeps the student going.

Anyone who has learned to play guitar at a respectable level will generally agree with the following statement,

I continued to practice guitar, even when I felt I was getting nowhere, because I wanted to learn guitar so badly that I did not pay much attention to my inability. I focused on the things I COULD and I recognized and appreciated the gradual improvement that I experienced along the way.”

A successful guitarist focuses on the good, not the bad. That is what keeps them going day after day. That is what will get them through the tough times, and it is why they do not give up when they cannot comprehend something. Instead of feeling bummed out, they push onward and they continue to study hard. They keep going until they get it.

Successful guitarists train themselves to see the good in their abilities - however small. If you understand this when you start learning, and if you hold onto this as you continue along day after day, you will protect yourself from your own self-doubt and any feelings of depression.

Don’t get me wrong. You will still have some feelings of failure and uselessness, but you are not alone. Everyone goes through it.

The good news is you can learn the guitar feeling inept, stupid, and like a loser. That is all a part of our learning curve. However, as long as you remember why you wanted to play in the first place and you can spend some time everyday practicing, you will always improve. You will learn that song you want to play, and if you get really good, you'll even someday play in a band.

Learn music. Practice the guitar. have fun... That’s all you have to do for success with this instrument.


Join Now