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Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument or do something so bad you could feel it?

Think back to when you first had the desire to play a guitar or piano or another instrument.

I remember when I was four. We had a piano in our living room and I just couldn’t keep my hands off it. Every chance I’d get I’d be plunking out a nursery rhyme or another song I had heard.

My mother was adamant that I was going to be classically trained. So the journey began.

The Guitar Enthusiast

Image by Pierre Prégardien from Pixabay

Image by Pierre Prégardien from Pixabay

Now, Larry, on the other hand, wanted to be a Jazz Guitarist. Every chance he’d get he’d go into a music store and headed for the guitar rack.

Taking a guitar off the rack, he’d feel the weight of it in his arms. It was heavier than he had imagined.

Cupping his left hand around the neck with his thumb and fingers of his small hands almost touching on either side, he’d slide his hand up and down the neck to make that scratchy sound.

He ran his hand down the body of the guitar feeling its smooth, cool surface and contour.

Strumming a couple of times with his right hand changing positions with his left, he made the sweetest music he had ever heard.

The others in the store weren’t as impressed. But it was music, his first attempts at music. He just couldn’t wait any longer. He had to have a guitar.

His parents reinforced that it was only six more months until his tenth birthday.

Six months seemed like an eternity.

His daily trek home from school took a new path by the music store. Often, he’d just sit on the stool and gaze at the guitars. Other times the clerk would tell him he could take one off the rack if there weren’t many customers in the store.

The Golden Years

Image by Candid_Shots from Pixabay

Image by Candid_Shots from Pixabay

Larry and I were young, but many have just retired, needing something to do during their golden years. Perhaps, learning how to play a musical instrument will rekindle the longing from youth.

Is this you? Can you fit into one of these categories of wanting to play an instrument? Perhaps your dream is to play or play and sing in a band. Or perhaps you are of the classical persuasion and want to play in the orchestra you listen to at every opportunity.

No matter your age or circumstance, a new adventure is about to be, like moving to a new city with places to explore and new experiences to enjoy.

Your new adventure as a guitarist or pianist is about to begin.

My First Guitar (Larry S. Warfield’s Story)

Larry wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, mainly a guitar, so bad he could hardly wait.

The six months passed slowly except for the encouragement given by the clerk who would show me how to play a few chords when the store wasn’t busy.

The day finally arrives, my tenth birthday. I was afraid I had begged too much for a guitar. Fear and anxiety welled up inside as I was called into the living room.

There on the coffee table was a guitar case. It wasn’t an expensive guitar, but I didn’t care. A cheap guitar from JC Penney’s felt like the most expensive guitar. It was mine, my very own guitar.

Asking for lessons was out of the question, but I didn’t care. I spent hours digging through music books doing everything mentioned. Even when my fingers hurt from the higher strings on the cheap guitar I didn’t quit. It just didn’t matter.

I checked out music books from the library until I had saved enough money to buy a book by Micky Baker on how to play jazz. For weeks I pored over the book day and night until I could play the chords and songs in the book.

Stopping was not an option.

As one of six kids, my parents could not afford to give me guitar lessons. My only option was to teach myself. It worked. I’ve now played for years. But, that’s the hard way.

Today there are many other options.

Getting Started With Guitar Lessons

Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

Where do you want to go with music? Do you have a particular goal, perhaps to be a professional musician touring, playing gigs and concerts for fans? Would you prefer to work as a studio musician in Nashville, Los Angeles, or someplace else? It’s very difficult to realize your dreams if they aren’t firmly planted in your mind and heart.

Take the time to write out your goals. If you aren’t sure how to structure your goals and plans to reach your goals check the internet. You will find several websites with templates and instructions on how to fill them out.

Back to music…

Assess Your Progress

Do you have a face-to-face personal teacher or are you trying to teach yourself? If so, is your teacher the right person to help you achieve your goals? Again, you won’t know if your teacher is the right person for the job if you don’t know where you are going.

If you are trying to teach yourself, is it working, or is your progress very slow and draining your motivation? If so, you have several options.

Find a face-to-face teacher. If that isn’t an option for some reason check out the online video lessons. There are several websites that offer video lessons from total beginners to very advanced.

Don’t keep trudging along losing your motivation and desire.

Wait a second. If you’ve only been teaching yourself for a month or two and you haven’t gotten a music contract yet, you may be jumping the gun.

It takes time and a lot of hard work to be good enough to get a music contract or a job in a top studio.

Give yourself time. Be patient and work hard.

Still, your progress could probably be faster if you had a professional teacher. Check it out. Don’t be afraid to make a change.

Do something different.

If you have been trying to teach yourself for some time, you have developed habits that aren’t beneficial to where you want to go. How do I know?

You wouldn’t be losing motivation if what you are doing was working.

To change a habit you have to start by doing something different.

Give yourself permission to do something different. Some people think, “Oh, I start this I have to finish it.” No you don’t. Do something different.

Switch off the autopilot. Often we get into ruts that aren’t productive or don’t move us along toward our goals and we don’t even realize it. We’re just moving on autopilot.

Be more aware of what you are thinking and feeling. Assess the situation to answer the question, “Is this really working for me?” Be more in the moment.

Change things up by adding purpose into your playing. Perhaps you need to add more variety by playing different types of music. You may have thought you wanted to be a Country Guitarist, but if you give yourself a chance you might choose Jazz or Blues or even Classical.

Personally, after 12+ years of playing Classical Piano, I was bored and started playing more pop/rock ‘n roll music. It was refreshing and a lot more fun. I had learned the basics of Classical Piano which gave me a firm foundation for other types of music. I find it’s also very helpful in helping Larry publish the music he writes.

But most of all have the courage and self-confidence to do something different. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels


Online Guitar Lessons

There are several companies and websites that have excellent online video lessons. Many of the companies offer the beginning lessons for FREE.

This gives you the opportunity to check out their teaching style to see if it is a good fit for the way you learn.

Some companies cater to beginners while others are lean more toward intermediate and advanced students.

Check out the companies:

  • What style of music do they teach?
  • What are their video lessons like? Do they show multiple views of the guitar?
  • Will you receive chord charts with the lessons?
  • Are the lessons downloadable?
  • What is the cost?
  • In the beginning lessons do they require a credit card upfront on the free lessons?
  • What are their ratings by other students?
  • Do they teach music theory and reading music from the beginning or does that come later?
  • Do they offer a practice routine or are you left on your own again?
  • Who are the instructors?
  • How many lessons do they have available?

Is It a Good Fit?

Many students are concerned about having to plunge into studying music theory in the first lessons. If so, find a company that focuses on guitar technique with theory coming in the advanced lessons.

In the beginning lessons, you need to be focusing on learning the first chords, different strumming techniques, how to change chords easily and smoothly. They also need to teach you how to apply the chords and strumming in playing a handful of songs.

One of the important techniques in teaching music is to have practice tapes to practice with. Some call them Jam Tracks.

The good Jam Tracks give you the experience of playing along with a professional guitarist and often with a full band. This helps increase your knowledge base and your confidence while being fun.

In the online video, lessons are guided by a professional instructor that will lead you through the lessons, especially the beginning lessons. This is where the beginning free lessons are important. You get to experience the lessons, the video presentation, and the instructor to see if they are a match for you.

Just Get Started Learning How To Play A Musical Instrument

Take the first step. You weren’t born walking and talking. You had to learn one step or one word at a time. Don’t just sit there on the floor sucking your thumb. You are NOT a baby. Get up and make it happen for yourself.

No one can do it for you.

P.S. You will LOVE Jammin’!!!

Join my email list to stay in touch and get your FREE MP3.

Image by Alessandro Diesse from Pixabay

Image by Alessandro Diesse from Pixabay

We all have things we think we’d like to do or have. We set goals and sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t, and often, it doesn’t really matter. And if a goal does come to pass it may not be life-changing like we imagined. But, if you want something bad enough… you have to do something different. There are other goals that won’t happen just by wanting them or giving it a half-ass try. If you want something bad enough… you have to take the necessary steps to bring it to pass. It takes work. It takes planning. Simply wanting something usually doesn’t make it happen. You need to make a plan. Put some thought into the steps needed to make it happen. Write it down – it’s always easier to stick to the plan when you write it down then you can cross it off your list. These steps are good for any project you want to do. But, let’s get to the primary project, learning to play guitar.  

Obstacles in Learning to Play Guitar

This applies to any instrument you might want to learn to play, but I’ve chosen the guitar as an illustration. As I mentioned in my last article, Learning To Play An Instrument, I was only four years of age when I started taking classical piano lessons, at my mother’s insistence. I didn’t know anything about setting goals or making plans. My role was to practice what the teacher gave me to practice. I took lessons until well into my teenage years and played off and on during my early adult years. I could do what needed to be done. But I wasn’t even close to being a good pianist, not to mention, a master pianist. My husband, Larry, is a guitarist and singer/songwriter, who is very good. When we started trying to play together I had to face the fact that I was just okay. If I was going to accompany him I would have to set some musical goals with the steps to reach those goals. I had to do some soul searching to determine if I liked playing well enough to invest the time and energy to reach my goal. It would have taken a substantial amount of work to even get close to his level of proficiency. Instead, I chose to put my time and energy into writing. With my training, I’m still part of our musical effort, but as you see, I’d rather write about it.  

The Biggest Obstacle

Photo by from Pexels

Photo by from Pexels

So, the biggest obstacle in becoming a great guitarist or master musician on any instrument is not learning the techniques for a particular instrument or learning music theory. The biggest problem, as in my case, is not making the commitment to doing what needs to be done to accomplish your mastery. First of all, you have to make the commitment to doing whatever is needed to make it happen. You have to be willing to invest the time and energy into the music rather than, perhaps, partying with friends or watching your favorite TV show.

Get Serious

When we take a serious look at what is ahead, it may be overwhelming or even intimidating. But focusing on the issue will not help you reach mastery.
  1. It all starts with setting your musical goals.
  2. Get an online or personal teacher who will take you one step at a time.
You will never reach your goal if your perspective is too broad. It’s just like Francis of Assisi’s quote on how to eat an elephant. “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” With the help of an instructor, you work these steps into your plan. Keep your focus on the step you are on and before you know it you will be that master musician.  

If You Want Something Bad Enough??

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

With either a face-to-face or online teacher you will be given the steps to get you to music mastery. But you will have to take those steps, one step at a time. You will have to invest the time and energy, as mentioned above. The question is, Do You Want It Bad Enough? I can see some of you pause to think about that question. You are wondering if you will have a personal life at all. No, you will not have to practice all day, every day. You won’t even need to practice 6, 8, or 10 hours every day. Wanting It Bad Enough does mean making good choices. Yes, you may have to give up partying with your friends or sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time. You will need to make some decisions that will get you to your goal. It will be worth it!!

 Change Your Mindset

 When we allow negative thoughts about ourselves or, in this case, about achieving our musical goals the negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling. We can also talk ourselves into believing the positive, which leads to seeing our musical goals fulfilled. Adopt a positive “Can Do” mindset about your practice and your progress instead of a pessimistic, negative mindset.   For example: “I’d Like To” – Mental Poison                              “I Can Do This” – Mental Nutrition “I don’t have the time or energy to practice.        “I can invest the time and energy” “It’s too hard to get up early to practice”               “I’ll go to bed earlier so I can get up.” “I’d like to be taught by a top guitarist.”                 “I can get a top guitarist as a teacher.” “I’m not disciplined enough to do this.”                “I can have fun and be disciplined.” “I don’t know if I can be a great guitarist.”            “I can become a great guitarist.”  

Confess Positive Thoughts

It’s not only important to change your mindset, it’s just as important to say these ideas out loud. These are just examples of what you might say to yourself. It is important that you repeat them out loud, loud enough so your ears can hear them. When we say them out loud, it’s kind of magical, but it registers more in our brains. Write down the negative thoughts about yourself or about your accomplishing your musical goals. Then, like above, write out the positive statements or affirmations. Design these positive statements to help you challenge and overcome any self-sabotaging, negative thoughts that keep you from accomplishing your musical or other goals. When you repeat the affirmations out loud you begin to believe them. When you start believing them you start making positive changes. It is important to say your positive affirmations about music. But just as important, or maybe, more importantly, you must invest the time and energy and “Do The Work.”

Get Rid Of Toxic Thoughts

Our minds are often like children, disobedient children. We tell our minds that “we aren’t going to think those negative thoughts anymore, we’re going to think positive thoughts.”  We may even tell ourselves, “stop thinking that you’ll never be a great guitarist.” Your mind talks back, “are you talking to me? Why should I stop thinking negative thoughts? I’ll do what I want to do.” With a disobedient child, we will disciple them. We might sit them in the corner, or take privileges away or even spank them. But, how are you going to do that to your mind? It’s not going to happen. Using direct force to change your mind rarely, if ever, works. You can’t say, “mind, change that thought,” and get it to work. Your mind doesn’t listen and obey. So how do you deal with it? We have to ‘trick” our minds. One way that has proven to be effective is to use symbolism and rituals. Because most of our thinking is subconscious, conscious thinking, reasoning, and logic often do not work. Self-improvement methods will only take you so far.

How to Trick Your Mind

Image by SupremeRyan from Pixabay

Image by SupremeRyan from Pixabay

The use of symbolism and rituals plants thoughts and suggestions into your subconscious mind without being direct. The direct approach will almost always be rejected. And you can count on demands being rejected without any consideration – just like a rebellious child. Here is a very simple method that really works:
  • Take the paper that contains your negative thoughts
  • Tear the paper into little pieces
  • Place them in a large ashtray, a bucket, or fireplace (either inside or outside)
  • Grab a match or a lighter
  • Take the pieces of paper, the ashtray, or bucket outside (unless you’re using an indoor fireplace)
  • Set it on fire
  • Stand and watch it burn until it’s gone
You might think this is to simples, it won’t work. But it does. We went over this in my Psychology class. It is amazing, it’s simple, it’s super easy, but it works. Often, especially in changing habits, this is how we have to communicate with our minds to get them to listen – “child’s play.”

Why Does It Work?

By nature, fire is a physical change agent. Right now on the West Coast, the landscape has been devastated by fire. Everything has changed and been transformed. Next year at this time, the towns and neighborhoods will look nothing like they did months ago. The fire changed everything. In fact, in some areas, the fire totally wiped out small towns.

Fire is a change agent.

You can use that same change agent to make changes in your own life by burning your old thoughts and destructive beliefs and rebuilding with new positive thoughts and beliefs.

Try it. It works.