It saddens me to do so, but I’m taking a break from the guitar lessons I started back in September. I intend to keep playing, but the lessons have become one more responsibility for me to worry about. And the original idea for all of this was, in part, that I needed an escape from responsibilities. Lately I’ve been avoiding practice because I wasn’t getting any better at trying to learn “The Wind Cries Mary,” for example. And then I’d feel guilty about coming to the lesson not having improved since the previous week. Not fun.
So after talking it over with my instructor, we agreed that I should take some time off from the lessons for a little while until I get back to feeling comfortable about playing. I need to find my focus, rediscover what it is I want to achieve as an amateur musician, and determine how this outlet for creativity fits in with the rest of my life. Obviously these are significant tasks.
I used to think, if only I could get my guitar to sound like John Lee Hooker’s I’d be happy. I mean, what he’s doing is just _not_ that complex–from a sheer technical standpoint. Never could do it.
I know how you feel.
A friend of mine who I played with for a while used to tell a story about his first guitar lesson. His teacher said “Sure, I’ll teach you. But you have to be ok with sucking for the next 2 years.”
I know it doesn’t sound very optimistic or helpful, but I’d say that that’s about right. It takes a long time to build up the kind of muscle memory (not to mention calluses) that you need.
Well, I’ve actually been playing for twenty years, so hopefully I got the “suck” out of my system a while ago. But I started taking lessons because I wanted to learn how to do some new things and to understand better how music is put together.
But your point is well taken: improvement requires patience. And humility.
gotcha! I’ve been playing for about 15 years or so, and I have to admit that one of the most frustrating things about learning guitar is that the curve features a number of plateaus where it seems like you’re just not advancing. It’s been my experience that the frustration with those periods leads to experimentation that is often fruitful.
Hound Dog Taylor used to say, “When I die they are gonna say ‘He couldn’t play shit, but he sure could make it sound good!'”
I just started learning to play guitar…well, today. The thing that surprised me most is how much is hurts. But, I’m enjoying it. I figure, I’ll start for now with a few chords and try and get my fingers in shape (ow) and work on finding a teacher…good luck rediscovering where you want to go with the music…a vision is key :)
The soreness certainly goes away with time, but make sure your guitar is set up optimally. For one thing, the strings should not be farther away from the fretboard than they need to be. If you haven’t had a professional tweak your guitar, take it in to a music store and ask them to do so. It costs around $30 and is like getting a tune-up for your car. Don’t let learning to play be harder than it should be. Enjoy!