Barriers to Perseverance
Part 1 of 4: The Boredom Beast
By Chad Crawford
PMI Blues Guitar Instructor
The most significant barrier to eventual success with the guitar is not talent or even the quality of a given instructor. It is this: giving up! There are many reasons why folks give up on a particular course of study, but we see that over time there is a short list that covers most aspiring guitarists who drop out.
DOUBTFUL OF TEACHER
In this article I am going to address the issue of boredom. As you have probably realized by now, the process of learning to play guitar involves some basic training exercises that are designed to increase your knowledge and physical skills in numerous areas. Most of us are impatient to play at the level we envisioned when we started this process. The repetition of basic concepts and physical exercises can be tedious at times, especially when we do not feel we are seeing any measurable results.
This is quite normal. All musicians go through this, and the truth is that it never ends. Once we master some new skill or technique, there is always another one waiting in line to challenge us again. My goal with this article is to help you maintain your motivation to work through boredom and get on to playing like you want to play.
So let’s consider how boredom develops, and then how you can combat it. Your teacher gives you a new exercise. You begin to practice it. It is probably exciting at first because it is new and you know it is a direct step toward your goal of fluent playing. But then after a number of repetitions you have it memorized. Eventually you are just going through the motions mindlessly. It becomes less and less interesting and eventually turns into something that feels more like work than entertainment. You may even get to the point that you hate to even think of doing the exercise again and you feel reluctant to even pick up the guitar at all.
What to do?
Substitution: The first thing you should do is to inform your teacher that you are struggling with boredom. It may be that the teacher can substitute some other song or exercise, or work with you on some other area that is more satisfying to you for the time being. However, you should consider input from the teacher before making the final decision on this. It may be that it is best for your long term goals to finish mastering the material you are currently struggling with. Your teacher should be able to offer some kind of explanation as to the value of the material you are working with and this may help you in maintaining your interest in working through it.
Inspiration: Every aspiring guitarist has a reason (or combination of reasons) that inspires the effort to learn guitar. Often it is a parent or other significant figure who plays an instrument. In many cases it is admiration for some notable professional guitarist, or a particular song or type of music that the student wants to play. Whatever the case may be, it is important to keep that motivational reason in the front of your mind while going through the learning process. Boredom is a feeling – a feeling of restless dissatisfaction. When you are confronted with boredom reflect on the satisfaction you will feel when you reach your goal. Combat the unproductive feeling of boredom by choosing to meet it with one that inspires you to keep working toward your goal.
Challenge: Another way to combat boredom is to find a new challenge in whatever you are doing. So you are working on some exercise and you have repeated it enough times that you know every note, every motion, etc., so that it begins to feel uninteresting. So what can you do to change it so that it is challenging again? Look for ways to improve the details of your performance. For instance, you have played through a chord change exercise for what feels like a thousand times and you feel like you are done with it. Is it possible you can improve the speed at which you execute the change from one chord to another? Probably. Are you inadvertently muting any strings while strumming the chords? Probably. Is it possible that a metronome will reveal that you are not keeping good time throughout the progression? Probably. Break out these details and set small goals within the overall exercise, and then challenge yourself to improve in these details. As you focus on these parts within the overall goal you will find satisfaction in challenge and accomplishment. You can not be bored when you are intently focused on solving a problem. In fact, you might just find that your main problem is that you do not have as much time for practice as you would prefer!
Substitution … inspiration ... challenge … these three powerful weapons will help you cut the beast of boredom down to a manageable size. Keep these things in mind, and review this article if necessary when you find yourself feeling dreadful of your practice routine. Remember that perseverance is the key to success. It is your choice whether to excel or expire, but with the right tools in your toolbox the road to excellence will be a lot smoother. Choose well!
If you need help to get out of a boring practice routine that is running in circles, click HERE to schedule a no cost, no obligation interview with the author.
Copyright 2008 J. Chad Crawford
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