Over the years I've had the privilege to help a lot of guitarists improve their playing.
And although each and every one of those players was a unique individual, I can feel very confident in making the
Maniacal obsession crushes interest any day of the week.
What do I mean by this?
It's pretty simple. If you're only interested in improving your playing, it's extremely unlikely that you'll play
to a high level. But if you're obsessed about improving your playing, chances are that one day you'll play to a
very high level.
I've seen it time and time again. The students who are the most obsessed with getting
good, tend to get good. The main reason of course is that they have the emotional drive to do what it takes. They
are willing to endure the setbacks and frustrations that come with learning guitar. They are also willing to make
learning guitar a priority.
A Few Examples
Although I've taught many students over the years who have had incredible drive to
improve, here are a few examples that immediately come to mind. I have left out their names for privacy
This is a current student of mine. He gets up at 4:00am to practice for two hours. Often
he will also have a practice session for one hour in the evening. He does this because he works long hours, and
also has a family.
This was one of my students in New Zealand. He saved up six months living costs, and then
quit his job to practice full time.
This was another one of my students that I taught in New Zealand. He sold his three
bedroom house and bought a small one bedroom apartment. This allowed him to then cut down to working part
Are They Nuts?
I know some people reading these examples probably think that the students were crazy. And
that's entirely the point. Guitarists with an incredibly strong desire to improve will often do things that seem
irrational to the average person. For example, they might give up financial security in order to give themselves a
lot more time to practice.
Of course, you certainly don't need to go to the extremes that these students did. But it
is important to realize that if improving your playing isn't incredibly important to you, then chances are you'll
struggle. You need to find a way to make improving a must rather than just a casual interest.
Building Your Vision
I feel that developing an extremely clear vision of what you are trying to achieve over
the long-term by practicing guitar is essential. It not only helps to build your desire, but also helps you answer
important questions such as…
- What are the most important things that I need to practice?
- What things are a waste of time to practice?
- What books, DVDs and other educational resources do I need to learn from?
- What guitar teachers are best able to help me?
- What short-term goals do I need to work towards?
Without a clear vision it's impossible to answer those questions.
So what's the best way to build your vision? While I don't believe that there is any one way that is best, here
are a few things you might want to keep in mind…
It Should Excite You
It's pretty hard to be motivated if the thing you are working towards doesn't excite
you. So make sure that the vision you develop makes you feel excited just by thinking about it. If it doesn't make
you want to get up earlier and go to bed later, then it's probably not exciting enough.
It Should Be On A Time Frame That Motivates You
I know some people recommend developing a vision based on a very long-term time
frame. (An example of this would be imagining how you would like to play in 20 years time). For me, this provides
no motivation whatsoever. I tend to get a lot more motivation by using a vision that I feel is about five years
down the road.
Remember, the goal here is to develop a vision that creates motivation for you. The
goal isn't to become some goal-setting-douche who believes that their way is the only way to do things. If
imagining something 20 years down the road motivates you…great. But if that is too far away to motivate you, then
use a shorter timeframe.
It Should Be Clear
Can you close your eyes and imagine it? Can you hear it? Can you feel it? It is
important that your vision is as vivid and as exciting as you can make it.
You Should Believe You Can Achieve It
While it's great to develop a vision that is very challenging, I don't think it's
wise to choose something that you think is impossible. How motivated are you going to be if you don't believe the
thing you are working towards is possible?
I think the important thing to realize here is that only you can be the judge. If you
truly believe that you can achieve your vision, no matter how ambitious, then go for it.
Create Your Vision Now
Let's now take some time to create your vision. I really recommend giving it your best effort. Put a lot of
thought into it. I also recommend writing your answers down. Let's get started…
I'd like you to imagine that it is five years in the future. You have diligently practiced for the last five
years, and are now taking a bit of time to reflect on what you've accomplished.
- What style of guitar playing are you best at?
- Are there any particular techniques that you are really good at?
- What are some characteristics of your playing that you feel particularly proud of?
- What specific improvements have you made to your playing over the last five years?
- What frustrations with your playing have you managed to overcome?
- Are you playing in a band? If you are, what sort of band is it? Does it play originals or covers? How often
do you gig?
- What are some things that you've accomplished over the last five years? For Example: Have you written any
of your own songs? Have you recorded an album? Are there any specific cover songs that you can now play?
All done? great!
Now I'd like you to close your eyes and imagine yourself playing in five years time. Try to see, hear and feel
it as clearly as you can. Do this for at least 5 minutes. The goal is to do it until you feel
A Few Last Thoughts
I know for a fact there are some guitar players out there who won't even give this exercise a go. They probably
feel too "grown-up" or "logical" to even try it. They might even see the whole idea of visualization as being
And that's perfectly fine. All I know is that every time I visualize how I ideally would like to play the more
motivated to practice I feel. And the more motivated I feel to practice, the more I practice. And the more I
practice, the better I get.
So keep an open mind and give it a go. Hey…it might also work for you!
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