Learning the guitar or any musical instrument is one of those things that everyone wants to do at some point. Maybe you’ve put it off every year, waiting for the perfect time. The problem is, there’s never a perfect time. You will always have something else going on, or have distractions stopping you from getting started. Maybe you’ve already bought your instrument, but you haven’t yet picked it up and started playing.
The thing is, time probably isn’t the main issue here. It’s motivation. You want to be able to play an instrument, but you don’t necessarily want to learn how to play the instrument. There’s nothing wrong with that either, it’s a big commitment and it can be disheartening to pick up a guitar and realize that you can barely hold the thing properly, let alone make some music.
But there are things that you can do to help. The most important aspect of keeping yourself motivated is to make practice fun. After all, if you have fun when you practice, then you’re more likely to practice more and more. Once practice becomes a chore, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep going as time goes on. But while playing an instrument is a skill, it’s also a passion.
It’s one thing to say “have fun with it”, but it’s another entirely to put it into practice. After all, you still need to put effort into learning and make sure that you have regular, useful sessions that help you to progress. Here are a few things that you can implement in your practice that will turn it from a chore into something you enjoy.
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix It Up
Whenever you’re practicing or playing, you should always have one question in mind. “Am I having fun?”
The answer should always be “yes”, otherwise you could be on a slippery slope to losing your motivation and to your practice becoming a chore. If you feel like this is happening, then stop what you’re doing and mix it up.
Find ways to make the seemingly dull parts of playing an instrument fun. Make games for yourself, maybe to play a certain scale as quickly as you can and without any mistakes. This doesn’t mean that you have to be rigid with your goals, rather, it means that you should set goals that are relevant to you. Make the goals fun, so that you want to reach them.
Put the music sheet away and make something up. Mess around, don’t focus on your progress for this session, and just do whatever you want to. You could even try to compose the worst-sounding song you can think of, or sing along with whatever you’re playing.
Interestingly enough, this kind of practice can lead to better results. So you can even say that you’re being productive.
Play With Other People
Regardless of what instrument you play, playing with other people is a completely different experience from playing by yourself. You don’t necessarily have to form a band, but if you have friends who can also play an instrument, ask to jam now and then.
Or, if you’re feeling brave, then perform. What’s the worst that’ll happen, really?
Play Music That You Enjoy
This is something that seems to get forgotten sometimes, but playing an instrument is most fun when you enjoy what you play. It sounds obvious because it is, but for some reason, people still force themselves to play along with something that they don’t like.
This could be anything from your favorite band, to your favorite film score. For example, Hedwig’s theme sheet music is a brilliant thing to play if you’re a Harry Potter fan. You’ll learn just as much playing something that you find interesting as playing something you find dull. Even better, you’ll enjoy yourself as you do so.
Keep Track of Your Progress
One problem with learning any skill is that you can feel like you’re getting nowhere. But the thing is, if you’re practicing at all and putting any effort in, then you will always be better than when you first started.
The best way to do this is to record or video yourself playing a song as a complete beginner, to set a benchmark for yourself. Then, a few months later, watch the video and cringe at how bad you were. That pain means that you’re so much better now than you were. Now, imagine where you’ll be in another few months…
Joe is a friend and contributing Author to Lifein12keys.com. He lives in Longwood, Florida with his wife Bethanne and sons Patrick and Joe Jr.