Why positive motivation is essential to learning guitar

Who is in the driver’s seat?

Motivation is like driving a car but who is actually doing the driving? Your positive or negative motivation?  Positive motivation could be hearing a great song and rushing out to buy it on iTunes whereas negative motivation might be paying off your credit card to avoid a late payment. For most of us the negative motivations run our lives or are in the driver’s seat so to speak. The trick is to put your positive motivations into the driver’s seat especially if you want to succeed on guitar. The driver gets to make the final decision so if you want to achieve your goals it makes sense to make sure your positive motivations are in control.

Don’t go to extremes

This of course doesn’t mean we just neglect our negative motivations because that would of course be extreme and a recipe for disaster. It just means we make a plan that ensures everything gets done and both sides are being attended to and most importantly your desire to play guitar doesn’t get sidelined. The 2 BIGGEST reasons students stop their lessons (and by our estimates around 85% give up guitar completely) is they say they either have no TIME or no MONEY or both. In other words the negative motivations force them to give up their passion. This in effect is going to the extreme on the negative side.  Bills must be paid of course but if all your time is spent worrying about paying bills and there is no time for music (your passion) something is seriously wrong. Its time to reassess. When I put my positive motivators in the driver’s seat I am always questioning whether my current strategy is including my guitar because if there is no guitar its a losing strategy.

Increase you positive motivation

The negative motivations will come without any effort (like a back seat driver constantly telling you how to drive) but the positive motivations require effort.  No amount of instruction, ‘How to’ books or magic guitar methods will help you if you lack positive motivation. In almost any long term endeavor especially one where results can take years it’s important to incorporate a motivational strategy otherwise you will soon be finding yourself questioning whether it’s worth the trouble. Despite the fact that staying motivated is so simple I like anyone can and do at times lose focus when neglecting this area.

The teen exercise

Whenever I lose track of what is important (and we all do at times) I go back to what mattered to me as a teenager. During our teenage years we take over the driver’s seat from our parents. Most of us literally get our driver’s license at this point and this really is a great metaphor for our lives in general. A car spells freedom. We are no longer riding in the back seat begging our parents to go where we want to go.  We are free to go anywhere we wish but over time our back seat driver takes over and we soon forget where we are going and become swamped by the negative motivators. Of course priorities change but the teenage years can still give us clues to what makes us happy and what really matters. As we come into the so called real world and get a real job and take on real responsibilities we push our passions aside. I am not suggesting we detach ourselves from reality but a little balance would be nice.


Create a positive motivation plan. Get a calendar (Google’s is free and easy to use) and create a positive motivational calendar where you ensure you plan events like buying a new song or two, going to a concert, watching a DVD or even updating your motivational play list on your iPod. Regular planned doses of positive motivation works. If you are a skeptic try it for a month and see what happens.  Good luck.

Kind regards,

David Hart – Program Director


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