By Jason Wilford
Are you someone who tends to become overwhelmed when it comes to the thought of starting something new? Whether it be starting a different diet, a new workout routine, playing a new instrument, or improving your existing guitar practice routine, the most challenging part is always the same: getting started so you can gain momentum. Once you have committed to getting started and things are beginning to roll, it doesn’t seem as hard to do as it once did. The new healthier diet you were dreading is now actually making you feel better, the workout routine that seemed so far out of reach is actually quite easy, and routinely playing your instrument is actually a lot of fun. But the fact still remains that you need to get past that starting point before it can become easy.
We are all paralyzed by ourselves at certain times in our lives. For some reason we all share the amazing capability to hold ourselves back from actually attaining the things that we want. Some people let fear hold them back, and others let persistent excuses get in their way. Regardless of the reason, getting in the way of your own progress is a serious issue; luckily, it’s one that can be resolved if you show some dedication and willpower.
For many people, goals can seem hard to achieve because the expectations are too high in the beginning. Let’s imagine that your goal is playing guitar for six hours a day. If you currently don’t play any guitar at all, then practicing for six hours a day is a really lofty goal to achieve right from the start; it would probably be quite overwhelming and you would undoubtedly end up stopping the new routine because it just isn’t realistic. Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum; I’ll use myself as an example. When I was preparing to go to college for music, I started off by practicing just a little on things I needed to do for jazz guitar, probably about twenty minutes a day, four days a week. Slowly but surely as things picked up with my audition preparation, I was practicing about two to three hours a day, six days a week. By the time I was in college, I was practicing for about six hours a day on jazz-guitar related stuff. It didn’t feel unnatural, and had been built up to that point in an organic fashion by increasing my practice time incrementally.
Taking what we can from the paragraph above, one of the easiest ways to introduce a new habit or routine is to do it in small increments. Do you want to practice guitar for an hour a day, six days a week? Start off with five minutes at a set time each day, then increase it according to what you can handle. The most important thing about this is that you start and don’t let the idea of the final goal of one hour of practice a day deter you from starting. Start off small, and work up to your eventual goal. Scheduling your practice, regardless how small the time commitment, is the easiest way to transform your routine and introduce positive changes into your life. If you haven’t started playing the guitar yet, use the ideas above to get yourself started. The worst thing you can do is wait. Start off slowly and focus on the improvements you make each week, regardless how small they are. Small improvements are much better than no improvement. I know I’m more than happy to get just a little bit ahead or keep the status quo rather than fall behind!
The final thought I will leave you with is this one simple question: What positive habits can you start implementing today that will help you to become a better guitarist or musician?
About the Author:
Jason Wilford is the founder and owner of Pro Guitar Studio, which offers Guitar Lessons in Oakville (Ontario, Canada).