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Thread: how do you motivate yourself to play guitar?

  1. #1
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    how do you motivate yourself to play guitar?

    I notice myself not having that desire and motivation to play too often. There are times where I just have to force myself and even when I do I don't practice guitar thoroughly.

    There are days where I will be caught up in reading about politics, and I just have a hard time thinking about playing guitar and making music even when I told myself that I would focus on that and put my heart to guitar playing. There are days where I eat a lot and I start to feel lazy and tired so I don't even bother playing. There are times when there is a basketball or sporting even going on and I just don't feel like playing because I get too distracted by the sporting even. There are times when I have so much homework (I can understand school > guitar, but...), and I just don't feel turned on to play because of the amount of reading I have to do, or whatever.

    You see I encounter these situations WAY TOO OFTEN, and I eagerly and honestly want to straighten my guitar life out and really focus on improving my skills. I was wondering what I can do to refocus my attention after digging into politics for hours, and play guitar, and how to make time for guitar when I have lots of hw.

    What do you people think I can do?

  2. #2
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    I hate to sound harsh, but you need to ask yourself, "Do I truely want to play guitar and play it to its potentil. Do I want to write music?" If you answer yes, then you need to make an effort. Its like being in a relationship, if you are not willing to put the effort in you will go no-where, and since the guitar is an inanimate object, dont expect it to do so for you. you have to approach your day like this, you are going to get those obsticles and when each one arrives, you need to be strong enough to say, "Im playing guitar instead". Start off with small amount of time, then build up. What motivates me? The desire to create beautiful music and the challenge of playing to the highest standard possible. Every piece of music I have fills me with inspiration to play, everytime I watch Joe on DVD I just want to get up and play. When Im doing work, Im imagining me being the finished article on stage, when I am away from my guitar I fret (pardon the pun), its my extra limb, I need it around all the time, then Im at my happiest. Thats what motivates me. I hope you stick with it, guitar isnt supposed to be a labour conjoured up in hell. Its an enriching experience. The opportunity to express yourself htrough sounds is incredible feeling, just have that in mind at all time, and every time you pick up the axe, you are one step closer to being where you want to be. I hope this helps you dude, we all have those days where we rather grab a couple of dohnuts and watch TV, you just have to fight it.

    regards
    Riku-Sama

  3. #3
    realizing dreams
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    If you just don't feel like playing, you should force yourself. I think we talk about serious practising because normally we all feel like noodling around.
    Just sit down with your metronom and practice...after you started you are already over the hill and it doesn't bother you anymore. You fully concentrate on your playing and when you are done, you will feel very good
    Some tips to motivate yourself:

    Edit:
    Paco the Lucia once said: the more you suffer, the more you will be rewarded afterwards. Especially when you just started, guitar playing can be really frustrating, but you have to go through it just like in real life when things look ****ing bad.
    Last edited by Padawan; 04-01-2006 at 08:09 PM.

  4. #4
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    I find the hardest thing to do when there are a lot of distractions is to just sit down and get started. After I start I can go for hours, but it's the first five minutes that can often be the hardest. If music is really important to you and you really want to improve, but you have too many distractions you are going to have to deal with those. Maybe try and find a way to momentarily elliminate some of the distractions (TV) from your life.

    Set small goals for yourself and stick to them. "By the end of the week I want to be able to..." "By the end of today I want to..." These will keep you on track and help get a sense of accomplishment. Honestly, you can't expect to go from zero to 60 overnight. It takes a while to build up practice time and stamina...physically and mentally. I now realize that there are somethings I'm just not going to be able to do, but I enjoy the guitar so much that I don't really miss those things. Once you start accomplishing some goals you may start to feel this way too. There is nothing like improvement to make you want to play even more. If music is really for you then the more you improve, the more you will enjoy it.

  5. #5
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    I tend to go through this kind of thing when other aspects of my life arent going the way i want. A good way through it is to constantly remind yourself that you will enjoy it, and that its something you CHOOSE to do. What happens alot is, as musicians, we feel constant presure to be great, to be perfect. And when it seems we cant be, or we let that overcome us , it kills the joy we feel for making music. Just remember that a practice session, a song, your technique, or whatever doesnt have to be perfect. By your standards or anyone elses. The only criteria is that you do what you want to do to make yourself happy. After a while of thinking on these things the pleasure starts to return. I now practice at every available moment. When i work i yearn to get home and practice- really. And just a years ago i was thinking of quitting.
    Hope it helps.

  6. #6
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    I really do want to play, I don't know why I keep making excuses. I always imagine myself playing on stage with a band, busting out the fast brutal riffs and dramatic solos.

    There are just things right now, such as world and political issues that I personally think that I NEED to have knowledge in (so I can debate with others that think otherwise) and that is why I feel like I am struggling finding time to play and finding motivation because I feel this pressure to be politically active, and knowledgeable.

  7. #7
    Registered User Joe Pass Jr's Avatar
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    Its great that you have this passion within you and your trying to find a way to give yourself the time to persue it. One peice of advice is, if your interested in politics,, thats great.. but the sad fact is,, nothing you read in the papers or see on tv is real.. unless of course your watching the economic reports and being given figures on poverty and casualties of war... even then they are suggar coated so it doesnt really matter in the end. Getting involved as a human being is the only way to make an impact... talk is talk.

    I used to have issues with motivation. The want to improve was allways,and still is, there but the fear of failure can counter it, also i didnt really have realistic goals so it never felt i was making progress. Take mornings. You wake up on saturday, think to yourself '5 more mins' *snooze button*... *yawn* '5 more' Snooze zzZZz ZZzzZ. This cycle of not wanting or being motivated to wake up is caused by a lack of reason to, hence the lack of motivation. If you had something specific to do at 9am that you truly wanted to do,, say...... Pettrucci was in town doing a workshop...." at 9am???? " well what ever! the point is,,, if he were there, you would be more than motivated to get up early and line up for hours.

    Same goes with guitar, if you have a goal in mind somewhere you want to be. Be it a rock star with immeasurable tallent or just a competent player who has a strong understanding of the instrument. You will see this over the horizion, and hopefully hesitate to hit that snooze button quite so often.

    Check Tom Hess's new article on Goals, i think i may have lifted a bit of it here.
    Its not the techniques you use, but the music you make.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Pass Jr
    Its great that you have this passion within you and your trying to find a way to give yourself the time to persue it. One peice of advice is, if your interested in politics,, thats great.. but the sad fact is,, nothing you read in the papers or see on tv is real.. unless of course your watching the economic reports and being given figures on poverty and casualties of war... even then they are suggar coated so it doesnt really matter in the end. Getting involved as a human being is the only way to make an impact... talk is talk.

    I used to have issues with motivation. The want to improve was allways,and still is, there but the fear of failure can counter it, also i didnt really have realistic goals so it never felt i was making progress. Take mornings. You wake up on saturday, think to yourself '5 more mins' *snooze button*... *yawn* '5 more' Snooze zzZZz ZZzzZ. This cycle of not wanting or being motivated to wake up is caused by a lack of reason to, hence the lack of motivation. If you had something specific to do at 9am that you truly wanted to do,, say...... Pettrucci was in town doing a workshop...." at 9am???? " well what ever! the point is,,, if he were there, you would be more than motivated to get up early and line up for hours.

    Same goes with guitar, if you have a goal in mind somewhere you want to be. Be it a rock star with immeasurable tallent or just a competent player who has a strong understanding of the instrument. You will see this over the horizion, and hopefully hesitate to hit that snooze button quite so often.

    Check Tom Hess's new article on Goals, i think i may have lifted a bit of it here.
    shhh...please don't let this thread turn into a political debate lol. I believe what you believe about the media too, but what I'm researching is beyond what the mainstream media talks about...hint hint, I'm just trying to expand my knowledge so when people bring a case to me I can at least let them know what I know backed up with the evidence I have found.

    I think realistic guitar goals is something I am missing in my guitar life. I want to improve so many things, such as alternate picking, sweeping, playing cover songs, writing my own songs, etc. I just don't know how to make realistic goals.

  9. #9
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    Well Bball...like everyone else said, we all have those days. The trick is finding realistic goals, with realistic being the key. The hard reality is, for most of us, no matter how much we practice and play, the simple odds of becoming the next Steve Vai are so low it becomes an UNrealistic goal to expect the same. That doesn't mean we will not or can not be able to achieve the same level of technical ability...that can happen with hard work and dedication.
    If you are finding you constantly have to force yourself to pick up the guitar, then you have to re-think what it is you are playing for. If it is forced, then maybe what you are practicing or playing isn't rewarding enough to generate motivation.
    There is a difference to wanting to play and having the axe in your hand all the time, (but feeling a little lost with no goals) and flat out not being able to pick it up in the first place because you don't want to.
    Working full time with a family means I get little time to devote 100% to music, but every time I get the chance I grab that guitar and play. And I pretty much want to play all the time. Even if I have just 2 or 3 minutes to pick it up and run a few scales, or play some riff, I do.
    Put a CD in and just start playing to it. If it is hard to figure out, try to find some TAB to the song, or buy a book. There are many sites that you can get good TAB instantly for just a small fee per song-with no copyright problems either.
    Maybe start with a 12-bar blues, and run some pentatonic minor scales over the progression. If you can, try to get some PC software or a digital multi-track recorder. For a learning tool, they are priceless. They are more powerfull and cheaper now than ever. (when I first started playing, these things weren't even around except in ultra high priced recording studios).
    These are just suggestions, but if you really want to play, there are unlimited ways to get going.
    So, to answer the original question of how I motivate myself:
    I found this site! Like having an instructor 24/7.
    I play as much as possible.
    I play songs I like.
    I pick out something I want to learn (theory, scale, chord) and keep working on it until I learn it.
    I play to have fun.
    I bought a Boss BR1600CD and am having the best time of my life recording my own songs, cover songs (great way to learn IMO), and using it to practice.
    I try to challenge myself.
    I don't have illusions of being a famous rock star.

  10. #10
    Registered User Joe Pass Jr's Avatar
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    Sorry bball_1523, didnt mean to make an issue of it. I was just making the point that unless theres a direct way one can change a situation that is affecting their life ( ie. your music ) theres no point spending time thinking about it (at least to the point that it's hindering progress in other areas ). Unless ofcourse its your job, but im assuming its not. Not to say we should just let these rightwinged pigs run us into the ground 1894 style. We certainly shouldn't... Maybe, rather than spending time putting ourselves in the know, for defensive reasons... We could get on the Offensive, musically, as alot of artists are doing and have done for a long time. Spread the gospel through our good vibrations so to speak

    please take that as a motivation, rather than a political rant
    Its not the techniques you use, but the music you make.

  11. #11
    Chicks dig me Danster's Avatar
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    Hey bball,
    The stuff you say in your first post in this thread I totally identify with. I have made significant progress with regard to motivation and practice discipline, so I’ll let you know how I’ve dealt with these issues. I should say also that significant positive influences on me in this regard have been the books, “Zen Guitar” by Philip Toshio Sudo, and “Correct Principles of Guitar Practice” by Jamey Andreas.

    With regard to motivation. I think you should play if you’re motivated or not. If you always wait until you’re motivated to do stuff, lots of stuff will never get done. I believe that it is very important to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of whether or not you feel like doing it. If you have decided that being a guitar player is a worthwhile endeavor for you, then you need to practice, whether you feel like it or not. I don’t mean you should practice all the time, but you should definitely not avoid practicing due to laziness, or lack of motivation. In fact, you can treat your guitar playing as a means of working on things such as self-discipline and lack of motivation that are very useful apart from playing guitar. So that it becomes not just, “I need to work on scale X today so that I can learn scale X”, but it becomes more of “I can develop into more of the person I want to be if I practice guitar today”.

    There are things that are more important than guitar, so sometimes you may have to skip it due to homework etc, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about that.

    With regard to having your mind distracted by politics, or other things, one thing you can do is to spend your first five minutes or so of “guitar playing” not actually playing guitar, but just getting yourself in the right frame of mind to play the guitar. It may be good to develop some sort of ritual in order to get your mind off politics, schoolwork, etc, and into the guitar playing mindset. When I sit down to play the guitar, here’s what I do before I ever start playing:

    1. I look at a problem (not guitar related) I have identified in my life that I want to fix (I have written down a list of things that I want to work on). I think about ways to solve it, and think about if things I have done are or are not leading me toward that goal.
    2. I look at a motivational quote or two about playing music (Yep, you guessed it. I have written down a list of such quotes).
    3. I put on a wrist band as a visual reminder to myself before and while playing that I should remain focused on my efforts at practicing.
    4. I tune my guitar.
    5. I plan what I’m going to do during this practice session.

    All that stuff takes me about 5 minutes. If during my practice session I get frustrated or lose focus, I pause for a minute, go back to my list of motivational quotes, and then start up again. I wouldn’t claim that my ritual would work for everyone. It was developed by me, for me. However, it is an example for you in case you might want to develop some sort of method to shift your mind from the “regular world mode” to “guitar practicing mode”.

    Playing guitar should be fun, but if you want to get good at it, it is also work, and it is work that no one other than yourself is going to make you do. Good luck!

    Sorry this post is so EricV-like in length (Sorry EricV )

  12. #12
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    you know I keep finding myself posting threads like these every few months for the past 3 years. I've used a few forums to ask for help, not only on motivation, but on practicing skills, playing songs, etc, and I keep asking the same questions. It's like I'm in an endless cycle

    today I have a goal to write an intro to a song I want to work on. Of course I also want to practice my alternate picking, learn the fretboard, work on finger stretches, and learn a song by Opeth.

    so what do you guys do when you are researching something for personal knowledge because you feel pressured to in order to have enough knowledge to communicate with other people that deal with the same issues you are researching? Do you keep going and researching or do you set time for guitar instead? Or how do you mix the two?

    thanks for the suggestions so far, I just need to get my priorities straight.

  13. #13
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    It often helps me to have a think about what my honest goals are.

    I used to be in the exact same position as you are. After a year or so of playing guitar and I discovered these wild and wonderful guitarists I'd never heard of, I began wanting to play fast. At the time, it was simply because I thought it was natural progression. "If I've reached this stage of my technique, it's only natural to keep on progressing, right?"

    I got to a point where I never picked up my guitar anymore because I was just not motivated to do it all. After a long, hard think, I came to the realization that I didn't actually want to be a shredder or a technical whizz. I just sort of...started working on chops because I thought it was what all guitarists did naturally. Sure, if someone said, "Hey, Nick, you want some insane chops with minimal work?" I'd accept in an instant, however, for me personally, the chops aren't worth the effort I'd have to put in to gain them.

    At the end of the day, I'm having a blast doing what I'm doing now. This is only my opinion, but what keeps me playing is that I play guitar to have personal enjoyment and satisfaction. For me, having practice schedule and having to put in the hours just isn't worth the hassle and isn't very satisfying for me. I'm completely content with picking up my guitar three, four times a week and just jamming to tracks, learning songs and whatnot. And doing MINIMAL practice just to ensure my superman-esque chops keep near that 16th notes @ 120bpm mark.

    Although it's fair to say you should play/practice wether motivated or not, if you're not motivated you more than likely won't enjoy it, and if you're playing whilst not enjoying it you're only going to demotivate yourself more.

    So in answer to your question, I don't motivate myself to play guitar. If I am not motivated, I just don't play. And that is rare, because I ensure I am doing things on the guitar that I wholly enjoy doing on it.

    Just my thoughts,
    Nick

    P.S. - I know you weren't talking about developing technique or such in particular in your post, so don't think I'm assuming you're talking about that side of things; just sharing what demotivated me as a player, which was the fixation on speed.
    Last edited by Lowthorpe; 04-02-2006 at 11:03 PM.
    I'll disagree with you for the sake of being contraversial.

  14. #14
    Registered User chrons's Avatar
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    I'm kinda lucky in the fact that I don't have school so no homework.. just work to worry about. Even then I don't really worry about work. I do however have a 30 minute comute from work to home.

    So what I do is just burn an mp3 cd or cd with a bunch of favourite tunes and throw it on in the car on the way home and crank it. Hearing the licks/rythm/solo's in the music I'm listening too is all the motivation I need to go home and pick up the guitar and play, whether it be practicing, noodling around or working on covers.

    Just hearing some good tunes is enough motivation for me to pick it up and start playing.

  15. #15
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    Mebbe you should find a way to combine you passions ,music & politics go very nicely together and it's a good way to get your point across. If you are doin all this reading I would treat it as fodder for Lyrics and thats a positive way of lookin at it. I do this sometimes.If I read an article in a Mag or see a progamme on tv .I write about it or condense the salient points and make them rhyme.If you fratenize a lot with the written word anything thats internalized will eventually want to find its way out again and you have your reward which makes the conflict(play/ read) easier to deal with, but its not instantaneous you'll need a little patience as well. As for time it's yours to do with want and only you can manage that but balancing your interests is not easy sometimes only thing you can do is make a plan and try and stick to it. G'luck

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