What To Do If You Lose Motivation To Practice Guitar - Keys To Long Term Guitar Practice Motivation

by Mike Philippov


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Since you started reading this article, chances are high that you are either struggling to find motivation to practice guitar right now, or you have struggled with this issue in the past. The topic of guitar practice motivation is highly misunderstood among many guitar players. Some believe that “motivation” is something that you can get from outside of yourself, in the same way that you can learn “how to do” something on guitar. As a result, these musicians actively seek out specific resources in attempt to “find” motivation to practice guitar. Others think that their favorite guitar players were exceptionally disciplined and were able to force themselves to practice guitar daily, while giving up spending time on other fun activities in their lives.

The truth is that neither of the above beliefs are true. Motivation to practice guitar (or in fact, to do anything else in life), can ONLY come from “within yourself”. Nobody (outside of yourself) can “give” you enough long term motivation to sustain years of focused effort needed to practice guitar. Likewise, I have found (from years of studying with and playing music with many advanced guitar players) that most great musicians do NOT possess an unusually high level of work ethic or discipline. In reality, all great guitar players developed and sustained their inner motivation by doing (consciously or subconsciously) 2 main things:

  1. Keeping the mind focused on the long term goal that you want to achieve by practicing guitar. Remember that the one and ONLY reason why you practice guitar is because you are dissatisfied with your current level of guitar playing. Therefore, your desire for (and visualization of) your longer term goal of being a much better guitar player must be strong enough to provide you with all the motivation you need to look forward to practicing guitar every day. Your goals and your desire for those goals are the fuel that create the spark of motivation within yourself. If your goals are not important enough to create such a level of desire, then you need to reevaluate them (more on this below).
  2. Making the process of going through every guitar practice session more inspiring. One of many effective methods for doing this (particularly when developing guitar technique) is making any exercises that you practice as closely related to the music you want to play as possible. This way you will truly get to see yourself getting closer to your goals as you practice the exercises that are themselves part of the music you want to play. Guitar practice exercises can (and should) be both fun to play and effective at the same time.

When both of the points above are followed, there is virtually no limit to the amount of motivation and inspiration you can develop within yourself to reach your guitar playing goals.

Unfortunately, regardless of how motivated you feel to practice guitar on most days, it is unavoidable that sometimes your desire to reach your long term guitar playing goals may be overshadowed by short term challenges and distractions. In order to consistently make progress in your musical skills, you must be ready for such obstacles and have effective approaches for overcoming them.

How To Restore Your Guitar Practice Motivation

If you normally find yourself full of motivation to practice guitar, but suddenly something happens that makes you feel less inspired to work on your guitar playing, the first thing you must do is get to the bottom of “why” such a disruption occurred. The fact is that if you don’t feel motivated to practice guitar, this can only be due to one or more of the following reasons:

  1. You are unhappy with the results you get from working on your musical skills and you feel like your guitar practicing is having no positive effect on your guitar playing.
  2. You had a temporary interruption in your life that makes it hard to get back into the process of practicing guitar and/or your guitar practice sessions start to feel boring.
  3. You decide that you no longer enjoy playing guitar.

If you find yourself in any of the mindsets listed above, here are the things you should do to turn the situation around:

If you lose your guitar practice motivation as a result of slow guitar playing progress, the first thing you need to do is examine the way you approach the practicing process and look for ways to make it more effective. I have written several articles where I talk in a lot of detail about how to do this. To avoid repeating myself here, I want to encourage you to study the resources listed below if you haven’t done so already.

Following the advice given in the resources above will help you to overcome the first reason why most guitar players lose their motivation to practice guitar.

If you had a temporary interruption in your life that slowed down your guitar practicing momentum or if you feel bored with your practicing, follow these tips:

Shift Gears To Avoid Burnout

Very often, all that is needed is simply to do something different from what you have been doing before. For example, if you have been spending too much time practicing guitar technique, move it way down on your priority list for awhile and instead focus on other skills such as music theory, ear training, or improvising. You can also challenge yourself to focus your practicing around learning a particular piece of music you have wanted to play for a very long time. Doing this will allow you to keep moving towards your guitar playing goals while giving your mind a break from the same old guitar practice routine. Such an approach will also often lead you to discover new things that you need to practice next that you wouldn't have otherwise considered.

There was a time in my early years of playing guitar when I was forced to take a long break from physical practicing. Although I did not ‘want’ to stop practicing guitar, the reality was such that there was an extended period of time when I couldn't physically do so. Instead, during that stretch of time I did a LOT of reading about music theory and general guitar playing and practicing advice from books and online articles – anything I could get my hands on. By the time I was able to play guitar again, my knowledge of practicing and other elements of music has allowed me to catch up to my previous skill level much more quickly and eventually far surpass it. In addition, my overall motivation to practice guitar by that point was at its all-time high, since my mind was literally bursting with all the different ideas I wanted to try out on my instrument.

“Jump Start” Your Guitar Practicing In 5 Minutes

On the days when you don’t feel like practicing guitar, set a goal to simply pick up your instrument for 5 minutes. Promise to yourself that if you don’t feel like continuing to practice after 5 minutes, you can put the guitar down for the day. Nine times out of ten, the 5 minutes you have set for yourself will have gone by without you noticing it and before you know it, you will become so engaged in the process that you end up practicing guitar for at least 20-30 minutes before you look at the clock again.

Sometimes “getting started” to practice guitar is the most difficult part of the process. You can make this step psychologically easier by promising yourself that you have the option to stop after 5 minutes if you still don’t feel like practicing at that point. In the worst case scenario you will have at least practiced guitar for 5 minutes, which is still better than simply skipping an entire day of working on your musical skills.

In addition to the above reasons for losing motivation to practice guitar, some guitar players claim that they do not want to practice because they no longer feel any joy in playing guitar. If this happens to you, ask yourself this simple question: “What would it ‘take’ (what would have to occur) for you to start feeling excited about playing guitar again?” In most cases, the answer to the above question will help you to see that the true reason for loss of your guitar practice motivation is NOT a loss of desire to ‘play guitar’ altogether but rather one or both of the other 2 reasons described earlier in the article. So the solution in such a case is to apply the advice already given about these issues. Another possibility might be that the goals you have set for your guitar playing have either already been reached or are no longer fulfilling for you to work towards. In this case, think hard about what it is you want to achieve on the guitar if you had the ability to do “anything you want”. Thinking in this way will help you to set more meaningful guitar playing goals.

As you can see, no matter what the reason is for suddenly losing guitar practice motivation, it is entirely possible to make this feeling come back and leave you more inspired than ever to practice guitar. Apply the advice from this article the next time you face similar challenges and it will become easier for you to see consistent progress in your guitar playing.

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend to study the articles and resources mentioned in this article for making your guitar practicing process a lot more effective:

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