Functional MRI scans are now revealing a lot about how the brain actually works. Researchers today are curious to learn about a whole range of brain functions and how they relate to real life. One such area of research is the brain of successful people. Apparently successful people across a broad range of areas show some similarities in brain activity. Contrary to popular belief there is no real relationship between I.Q. and success. Success it turns out has more to do with the way we respond to situations and especially how we respond to failure or set backs and this definitely applies to successful guitarists.
Guitar will test your brain
Learning guitar is actually a very difficult challenge and one that will test you especially over the long term. Learning guitar at first is exciting because our naturally optimistic outlook has us believing that it will only be a matter of months before we will be playing our favourite songs. It is true that some songs are quite simple but it is unlikely that every song you hope to play is actually simple enough to knock over in a few months. Many of the skills you will need to acquire will take years to learn. This reality will often frustrate and question whether you have the talent or whether its worth the effort. The statistics show most will abandon their guitar dreams within the first year. Most of us will question our commitment on a regular basis and it is how you answer this question that will decide whether or not you succeed.
Rewiring your brain for guitar success
The researchers found that the FMRI scans of those who were successful actually showed a different result to those who gave up. There were actually different thought patterns in the brain of successful people. This may lead you to believe that you either have a successful brain or you don’t. Fortunately we are not born with one brain or the other. The term plasticity is now used to describe how our brains work. This means our brain can be shaped but it takes work. You must begin by being aware of how you respond to a situation. Knowing and understanding this will increase your chances of success. They found the most common traits of successful people were persistence and resilience and such people know how to respond to themselves when in times of doubt.
So how do successful people respond?
Imagine you have been learning guitar for a few months and the practice seems tedious and the rewards small. You get home from a hard day at school or work and the last thing you want to do is more study. By being aware you will be able to listen to what you are actually saying to yourself. If you do not feel like practicing chances are your self talk is negative in terms of guitar practice. The successful person’s brain will still have the same negative thoughts but they respond differently by challenging their own opinion. E.g. Negative brain “Practice is boring and besides if I had talent it wouldn’t be so difficult”. The positive brain argues “Maybe it’s boring at times and yes it’s challenging but the practice will get easier and my playing will improve. It’s just a fact. More practice equals more progress.”
Why not talk yourself into practicing
We often talk ourselves out of practice through justification. You might say to yourself that you have too many immediate priorities but deep down you know its just an excuse. The above is just an example but the idea is to train your brain in overturning your negative thoughts with positive ones. Justification is part of human nature but if its sabotaging your dreams you need to question it. When you notice yourself talking yourself out of practicing challenge yourself and talk yourself back into practicing. You should also consider the fact that if you are able to do this exercise on guitar you can then apply it to other areas of your life. If you give up on guitar then your negative brain has won. If your positive brain wins your confidence will grow because you now know that success is in your hands and not just a matter of luck. You will have literally rewired your brain for success.
Guitar teachers are wired for success
A good guitar teacher can help you develop the successful brain. After all they have done it. A guitar teacher is someone who overcame the same doubts that you will go through. A good teacher will not only teach you how to play guitar but if you dig a little deeper they will also share with you their personal challenges and how they overcame them. A good guitar teacher knows how to get you over the humps and a great guitar teacher knows how to prepare you for the humps before you even get to them.