If your only reason for practicing guitar is to one day become a great guitar player ironically you may actually be decreasing your chances of success. After many years of teaching guitar, associating with guitarists, reading about and living among guitarists and wannabe guitarists you begin to see patterns. Maybe its just a coincidence but I think given the evidence its becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the facts.
Pain does not always equal gain
The journey to mastery is a long, winding and somewhat steep road. Those who suffer practice with the idea of one day becoming masters are unlikely to persist long enough. There are of course a handful who go through years and years of pain and sacrifice to finally reach a point of relative mastery but it’s a long shot and you need to ask whether the feeling of achievement which is often short lived is really worth it. At the same time I am certainly not suggesting you avoid hard work or boring practice sessions because they are part and parcel but if you are not enjoying your practice at least some of the time you are far more likely to give up. My point as you will see is that there needs to be more to your practice than a no pain no gain policy if you are going to go the distance.
Success is but a fleeting moment
Let us pretend for a minute that there was a point where you become a successful guitar player. Maybe after 10,000 hours of practice and let us also pretend there is an official list where all the successful guitarists are recorded once they reach this point. If you did happen to reach this point and get listed you would feel a sense of achievement but studies show this feeling of achievement is like a flash compared to the thousands of hours invested. Mountain climbers know this feeling. Reaching the summit is thrilling but the thrill is short lived. Within a relatively short period of time they will be planning their next mountain climb.
Great guitar players love practicing
Learning to love practice is the key. Ask any great guitar player (and I don’t mean famous but actually skillful) and you will find someone who is obsessed with practice. They don’t care if they have an audience or not. They pick up the guitar because they enjoy developing their playing and taking it to the next level. I know many students find practice boring especially when it comes to the skills such as scales, arpeggios, reading etc. but this is usually because you have not given yourself a chance. Music is like a language and when learning a language the first stages are difficult but once you get to a certain level it becomes enjoyable. The key is consistency and balance. You need to do it everyday and you need to balance the important areas such as skill development with having fun such as trying out new songs or favourite riffs. The more you focus on finding the pleasure in your practice while being mindful of skill development the more likely you are to continue long term.