An extremely important character trait to develop when improving your guitar playing is brutal honesty. What
I mean by this is being totally honest with yourself about the results that you are currently getting from your
guitar practice. In other words…is your current method of practicing guitar producing the results that you
want? And if you're not getting the results you want…why not?
Why Honesty Is Vital - An Example
Let's take a look at an example…learning cover songs. It's really common for some guitarists to learn bits
and pieces of songs, but never actually learn to play songs from start to finish. (And to be honest, I've been
guilty of that plenty of times!). And as a result of this habit, some guitar players start to beat themselves
up and feel bad about the fact that they don't learn complete songs. They continue to berate themselves, but
don't actually take steps to figure out a solution.
And this is where honesty can be extremely useful. You can ask yourself questions like…
- Do I actually want to learn to play these songs from start to finish? Maybe the songs
you've chosen don't"float-your-boat" enough to actually want to do the hard work that it would take to
- Are the songs I'm trying to learn simply too advanced for me? When you are learning a
song by your favorite guitarist, you are basically expecting yourself to play at the same level of that
guitarist. So if they are a virtuoso-level player and you're a beginner, obviously it won't be possible for
you to learn the song. (At least not until you elevate your technique to a much higher level).
- Am I giving myself enough time to learn the songs? Some guitarists arbitrarily
allocate a period of time to learn a song…often without taking into account the level of difficulty of the
- Do my current practice habits help or hurt my song learning progress? The results that
you get from your practice are a really clear indication of just how effective your practice is. So if you
are getting results that you don't want, then chances are, you aren't practicing in an effective way.
- What specific technical or musical weaknesses are stopping me from learning songs from start to
finish? Be honest…and try to be as detailed and specific as possible.
- Do I need help? There's absolutely no shame in getting help from someone else. It's
better to be honest and get help from a guitar tutor, than to keep on repeating the same pattern of getting
poor results forever! A good guitar tutor will be able to help you learn to practice in a way that will
give you the results that you want. (But just be aware that it takes time and a heck of a lot of effort to
master the skill of effective guitar practice).
I should also say here that the point of asking yourself these sorts of questions isn't to make you feel
bad. So be honest with yourself, but do it in a non-judgmental way. For Example: Don't beat yourself up if you
realize that you have poor practice habits. Just treat this realization as a signal that you need to change
your current approach.
Being honest with yourself is really powerful. By analyzing your current playing honestly you'll be able to
find very specific areas that you'd like to improve. And because you've actually taken the time to find and
define these areas you can then begin the work of strengthening those weaknesses. And that's when you'll see
yourself progress faster!