Have you ever started learning a lick or exercise and stopped practicing it before you had mastered it? Now I don’t know you, but my guess the answer to the question is yes! Why is that? Why did you stop, when it was something that you REALLY wanted to learn?
There are quite a few reasons for it, but the one I would like to mention now is what I call the “point of discipline”. This is the point when the initial enthusiasm of learning that new lick/exercise wears off. It is no longer so new and exciting. This is the time when you will have to use your self-discipline to complete the task at hand.
A lot of guitar players will tell you at this point, “Hey man, guitar’s supposed to be all about fun! If I have to use my self-discipline, I’ll no longer enjoy it.” If anyone says that to you, have a look at their playing. Most of the time they are not very good :)They have not reached a virtuoso level of playing, so why listen to them!
The point of discipline is when most guitar players quit. Rather than using their self-discipline to TRULY master the lick/exercise, they stop practicing it and move onto something new. It’s tempting, isn’t it? We’ve ALL done this at some point in our development as a guitarist. But what’s the cost of doing this?
Some negative consequences of quitting at the point of discipline include:
You’ll never reach the virtuoso levels of guitar playing. Can you imagine virtuosos like Yngwie Malmsteen, Rusty Cooley, Michael Angelo, etc, quitting before they have mastered what they are working on? I don’t think so! They didn’t become so incredible by being quitters. They have learned to tap into their self-discipline.
You’ll never have that feeling of pride that comes with truly mastering something.
You won’t learn to confront your present technical limitations and overcome them. This will mean that you’ll learn a lot of new things, but your overall level of playing won’t become elevated.
You’ll know about 1007 bits of songs, but if someone asks you to play a song from start to finish, you can’t.
Not a pretty picture, is it? So what are some things that you can do about it? Here are a few ideas:
When learning a new lick or exercise, set a speed goal. Keep practicing the lick/exercise until the speed goal has been reached. Realize that this can sometimes take weeks, months (or even years!).
Learn to enjoy using your self-discipline. Feel proud about yourself every time you follow through and master something.
Use visualization. See yourself in your mind’s eye becoming a guitar virtuoso. This will help keep you motivated and enthusiastic!
Make a commitment to completion. With everything you learn, refuse to quit. Keep working on it until it has been mastered.
I guarantee that if you learn to tap into your self-discipline your guitar playing will improve at an accelerated rate! Of course, if you want to sit on the couch watching TV and eating bags of potato chips, dreaming about one day becoming an awesome guitarist, that’s cool also!