Your mental state affects your ability to learn guitar

Your mental state affects your ability to learn guitar


Learning guitar is as much about mental training as it is physical. Scientists have known for some time that our physical and mental health are linked. In the 1960’s a Dr Charles Garfield (computer analyst) joined the infamous Apollo moon project and found himself surrounded by people who were leaders in their respective fields. He notice that many of his colleagues shared similar characteristics. Garfield then decided to investigate this further by studying high achievers in sports, business, science and the arts.Peak PerformanceIn 1984 he wrote a book called ‘Peak Performance’ he noted six capacities or aptitudes of high achievers:

  • Missions that motivate (Why are you learning guitar? What is your mission? Do you have a clear goal?)
  • Results in real time (Set small achievable milestones. A checklist is ideal)
  • Self-management through self-mastery (Practice each day at the same time and record your practice times)
  • Team building and team playing (Try and find a partner to learn with. Its never too early to jam)
  • Course correction (If you are not getting results try something different but don’t quit too early and seek advice from a teacher)
  • Change management. (Its okay to have different teachers or at least try a different teachers from time to time just to compare. Each teacher offers a fresh perspective).

The Real Reason People Quit Guitar

The fact is our mental state can make or break us. I have for many years stated that the single biggest reason people give up guitar is not for the many reasons they claim. Students will often say “I don’t have time” or “I can’t afford lessons” or my favourite “I just don’t have the talent”. The real reason is almost always CONFIDENCE which is all about one’s mental state. I say this because in my more than 30 years of playing guitar and 20 years of teaching I have seen almost every scenario possible. I have seen students with enormous potential give up because they say they just don’t have the talent. I have also seen students who are often slow in the early stages (where even I have questioned their ongoing commitment) stick it out and become amazing guitar players. The difference is confidence. Its confidence that keeps them going and its persistence and a determination to succeed that ultimately brings about success.

Confidence can make all the difference

Confidence is a mental state and is often the difference between success and failure yet very few people build it in to their guitar learning program. If you are not working on your mental preparation you are either one of the lucky few who are naturally confident or you are destined to give up or at the very least make little to no improvement. In my early years of teaching I noticed some teachers had high student retention rates where others had high dropout rates. The difference as I came to learn was confidence. Not confidence in the student but confidence in the teacher. A confident teacher knows that every student has the capacity to succeed and this in turns makes a student feel confident in achieving their goal. Tip: Find a confident teacher. Even an over confident teacher is better than a self-doubting teacher.

Hope that helps.

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