In an earlier post, I outlined five tips for practicing. For this article, I’m going to elaborate on the first tip: don’t think of your sessions with guitar as “practice” but think of it as “playing.”
Most of our time is spent doing things we need to do: school, work, grocery shopping, cooking cleaning, laundry, yard work and so on, leaving us precious little time to do the things that we want to do. For me, those things are hanging out with my wife, playing videos games, going to Orioles games, reading, and, of course playing the guitar. Sometimes, even for me, playing the guitar can feel more like a chore than a leisure activity. When that happens, I try to think back to when I first decided to pick up my guitar. What was my motivation? Why did reach out and grab a guitar for the first time, put it in my lap and pluck the strings? Because I wanted to play. I wanted to mess around and see what fun I could have. I didn’t gravitate to the guitar because I was looking forward to practicing. I didn’t wrap my hands around the neck and place my fingers on the strings because I eager to practice some scales. No, I was looking forward to playing, to making some music.
After playing the guitar enough, you’ll inevitably get better. When you get better, you’ll want more from the instrument, to learn more songs and techniques. To do those things, you’ll feel motivated to continue playing, now with a more focused approach, driven by your desire to improve. You’ll want to explore concepts and skills beyond your current aptitude. Your desire to improve will push you to try new things and spend more time with the guitar, which in turn leads to your development as player. And it all starts with simply playing.
So when you’re not feeling motivated to practice, remember that it’s not really practice at all. It is playing. If you start your sessions with the guitar with the mindset that you are going to play and have fun, you’ll find that guitar will remain one of your favorite and most rewarding leisure activities and never feel like a chore. When I get in those moods when guitar starts to feel like work, I remember how I felt about the guitar when I first started. I didn’t need to practice. No. Rather, I wanted to play.
For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit www.ewguitar.com.