“I regret to say I’m retiring from guitar lessons!”

Do you ever feel like throwing in the towel? I recently received this email from a student which some of you may be able to relate to now or in the future so I think its worth blogging my response.

Student – “I regret to say I’m retiring from guitar lessons! It’s been fun and I have especially liked your tutors, all of whom have been funny and such high energy. But, I reflect on the fact I rarely practice – i just haven’t been bitten by the bug. Well, I gave it a good go. I’m doing voice coaching lessons instead now.”

My response – It is always great to receive an email from a student no matter what the reason. Having played guitar for almost 30 years and teaching for 24 years it is sometimes easy for me to forget those early very challenging years. I recall at the tender age of 14 watching my fingers attempting to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and telling myself “This is impossible. There is no way I will ever be able to do it” On many occasions I put the guitar down deciding it just wasn’t for me. Problem was with in a few weeks (sometimes longer) something would ignite the drive again. Maybe a great song or a concert or some girl at school telling me how she thought guitar players were cool. I won’t say it was always passion but as time went by I knew that it was not going away.

I recently heard a great audio book that described perfectly what I went through as a young guitarist. The book is called ‘The Dip’. When we begin a new hobby, skill, job, interest etc we start with lots of enthusiasm and drive. As time passes and results are not as immediate or the physical and/or psychological pain sets in we begin to question whether its worth pursuing. This is called the dip. Most people give up in the dip. For those who hang in there and come up the other side the rewards are huge. From teaching guitar for so many years I can see a strong relationship between the first year or so of practice and long term guitar playing. Students who are unable to establish a regular practice routine within the first 6 to 12 months almost always give up completely.

The reality is it only really takes around 3 months to become a guitarist. Now I don’t mean in 3 months you will be playing guitar like Satriani or Segovia but 3 months is all you need to get through the dip. You see if you practice everyday (and I mean everyday) for 30 mins or more for 3 months you will have established the routine of practice. Results will automatically follow, your confidence will lift and you will begin to increase your practice but best of all you will crave it. Where in the early stages you need to push yourself to practice once you cross this line you will have to force yourself not to practice. In your case it may not even take 3 months and I would strongly recommend you trying this even for a month. My guess is you will come through the dip.

Hope this helps and please feel free to ask me any questions.

Kind regards,

David Hart – Program Director


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