How to Avoid Burning Out on Guitar: Bite-Size Guitar Podcast Episode 41
Episode 41 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at the main reasons why people burn out on guitar and end up quitting.
Knowing the reasons why people quit guitar can help you avoid falling for the same traps.
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Here are some relevant episodes to help you avoid burning out on guitar:
Even if you feel on top of your guitar game right now, it’s important to make sure that these issues don’t start to creep in and burn you out. People don’t give up guitar overnight, it happens gradually over time.
Podcast Episode 41 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 41 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.
In this episode, let’s look at the main reasons why people give up guitar and how you can avoid burning yourself out or losing interest in guitar.
It’s good to know the real reasons why people quit guitar so you don’t fall into the same traps.
Give Yourself Time to Learn
One of the most common reasons I see people quit guitar is that they don’t give themselves enough time to learn the things they want to learn.
Imagine somebody walking in for their first guitar lesson ever and expecting to walk out of that lesson knowing how to play their favorite song in full.
That’s an unrealistic expectation and unless their favorite song is ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ they’re going to be bitterly disappointed.
It’s natural to want to get past the boring bits so you can enjoy playing your favorite songs. But there are no shortcuts with learning guitar, despite what people selling books and systems might tell you in their marketing.
You need to give yourself time to properly learn things.
If you try learning a riff or lick and after an hour you just can’t seem to get it, that’s okay. Come back to it tomorrow and try again. Just because you couldn’t figure it out straight away doesn’t mean you should give up.
If you try to memorize a scale and after a couple of practice sessions you don’t feel like you’re making any progress, don’t get discouraged. Keep working on it or try using a slightly different approach. Be patient. If you keep working on it, it’ll eventually sink in.
The harder something is to learn, the more time you need to allow yourself to learn it. It probably sounds obvious when you hear me say this, but not many people keep this in mind when learning a song, a new technique, or working on an exercise.
This applies whether you’re a beginner learning how to play your first chords, or whether you’re an advanced guitarist learning a complex solo.
Something like this doesn’t cause people to quit guitar on the spot. It wears them down over time. If you have the wrong expectations for yourself, every time you try to learn something new, you’re going to get more and more discouraged.
So whenever you’re learning something new, just remind yourself that it’s okay if it takes a while to learn. Don’t set unrealistic expectations on yourself or pressure yourself to learn it fast. It doesn’t matter if something takes six months to learn, what matters is that you learn it properly.
I’m sure this all sounds like common sense, but it’s one of the main reasons why people give up guitar – even experienced guitarists who have been playing for a very long time.
Not Seeing Progress
One of the hardest aspects with learning guitar is that a lot of the progress you make won’t be obvious to you at first. The progress you make on guitar is slow and gradual, sometimes so gradual that you don’t even notice it.
As a guitar teacher, I see my students once or twice a week. When a student comes in for a lesson, it’s usually obvious to me how much they’ve improved since their lesson a week earlier. But from their point of view, they’re still struggling with the same things. That student may have practiced every day, so the small improvements they made each day isn’t obvious to them. They may honestly feel like they’ve made zero progress and nothing I can say might change their mind.
This is why in I recommend you regularly record your guitar playing. It gives you a way to look back at your past performance and notice the improvements you have made. When you hear what you used to sound like on guitar, it clears up any doubts you might have on your progress.
If you feel like you’re not getting better, record yourself playing a few things and review that recording a month from now. You’ll probably be surprised by what you hear.
You might remember in the early days of learning guitar how fun it was for something to finally click and you were able to play it without mistakes. All of those aha moments help motivate you to keep learning. If those aha moments stop happening because you’re not noticing your progress, it can take away a lot of motivation.
The key point is if you don’t feel like you’re improving right now, do something about it before you start losing interest in guitar.
The next thing to keep in mind is that it’s okay if you get frustrated with guitar from time to time. Maybe you’re struggling to learn a song or there’s this one chord that you can’t seem to wrap your fingers around.
Getting frustrated is a normal process that happens in the early stages of learning something new.
We get frustrated when we know what we have to do, but we just can’t seem to make it work. You know how the part in the song sounds and where you need to place your fingers, but your fingers just don’t seem to hit the right spots.
Whenever you get frustrated with your guitar playing, take a deep breath and try to relax. You’ll get through it.
One of my close friends recently started learning guitar and would often message me saying he was frustrated that couldn’t play the simple riffs I sent him.
I asked him to send me a video of him playing one of the riffs. It turns out, he was trying to play the riff at full speed along with the song playing in the background. His fingers just couldn’t keep up with the song and he would try to rush to keep up. No wonder he was frustrated. He knows how the guitar part should sound, but his fingers weren’t ready to play it that fast. When I asked him to play the riff slow without the song in the background, he could play it fine. So it’s not that he was incapable of playing it, it’s just he was expecting too much too soon from himself.
If you ever find yourself frustrated, it’s probably for similar reasons. Take a step back by either slowing the part down or breaking it down into smaller parts and see how you go.
Don’t let your frustration lead to you giving up guitar. It might be annoying, but you’ll get past any frustrating skills or songs with enough practice.
An important way to prevent yourself burning out with guitar is to take breaks. Some of the most fun I’ve had with my guitar was when I’d be away on holiday and unable to play for a few weeks. As soon as I’d get home, I’d pick up my guitar and instantly feel inspired. I’d suddenly start coming up with fresh song ideas or coming up with interesting licks out of nowhere.
Being forced to take a break from guitar almost makes everything fresh and exciting when you come back to it.
While having a regular practice routine is important if you want to keep pushing your skills forward, it is possible to overdo it. Everybody is different, so you need to think about your own limits.
If you start to dread picking up your guitar to practice, it might be a sign that you need a short break. Take a couple of days off or take a complete break from your typical practice routine.
Getting Stuck in a Rut
Another reason why some people quit guitar is that they get stuck in a rut. The very first episode of this podcast looked at how to avoid getting stuck in a rut and I chose that topic on purpose because it’s so common. There are so many people out there with guitars stored away or collecting dust simply because they got stuck in a rut that they couldn’t get out of.
If you feel like you’re doing the same things over and over on guitar and you’re starting to get bored, it could be that you’re just stuck in a rut.
It can happen to anybody at any time, so if you start noticing that you pick up your guitar less often, or you’re bored within minutes of picking up your guitar, you’re probably in a rut. Have a listen to of this podcast as well as for advice on how to expand your comfort zone and try out new things.
Okay, so hopefully I’ve given you plenty of things to keep in mind. Even if you feel like you’re on the top of your game with your guitar playing right now, some of the things I’ve talked about can slowly creep in and burn you out over time. Keep these things in mind and hopefully you never have to deal with burning yourself out or getting bored with guitar.
If you’ve been enjoying this podcast, let me know what topics you would like me to cover in future episodes. It’s coming up on a year since I started this podcast and I’d like to do something different in episode 50. I’d like to do a Q&A style episode where I just answer as many listener questions as possible. So if you have any questions you would like me to answer, head on over to guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-41 and ask your question there.
Have fun with your guitar playing and I’ll talk to you next time.
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