Let’s face it, if you play guitar long enough you’re going to run into a wall at some point. It feels like you’re not making any progress, and you find it hard to get motivated to even pick up the guitar. This happens to artists and musicians of all kinds from time to time. And luckily for us guitarists who want to keep getting better as musicians, there are ways to pick ourselves back up and keep on trucking.
Here are three steps to getting motivated again on guitar that I hope you’ll find helpful:
1. Transcribe something unusual
When you’re not feeling inspired to play guitar, even great guitar music can feel stale. So why not turn to other kinds of music? When I say transcribe something unusual, I mean way out there. Transcribe music written for oud, or sitar, or choir. Don’t limit yourself to just rock music or any other guitar-based kind of music. Shake out your ears and start letting in some new sounds.
Music has a lot to offer and finding yourself in a bit of a rut might indicate that it’s time to explore new territory. Yngwie Malmsteen was inspired by violin, Derek Trucks by sarod, and Dave Gilmour by voice. So get out the slow-down software and check out something you haven’t heard before.
2. Find other musicians
Other musicians, whether guitarists or not, can be incredibly inspirational. First, other musicians will have ideas about music and the guitar that we hadn’t even thought of. I learned a ton of new techniques like hybrid picking and palm muting from the other guitarist in the first band I was in, things that hadn’t ever occurred to me.
Second, playing with other musicians naturally inspires us to keep up. Everyone wants to feel included, so jamming with musicians that are better players than us will kick in our instinct to not be left behind. Check out open mics, open jams, and local shows in your area to find some other musicians to jam with.
3. Take a break
If all else fails just take a break. Put the guitar down for a few days or even a week. If you’ve been putting in a lot of hours on the guitar, you might just be burnt out and need to give your hands and ears a chance to rest. Don’t worry about losing what you’ve just been working on. It’s been my experience both with myself and with students that a little bit of time off actually lets what you’ve been practicing sink in deeper. You may find that when you come back to the guitar after a break, you’re playing better than before.
About the Author
Ben works as a guitar teacher and freelance guitarist in the Pittsburgh area, as well as being in charge of music content at Tunessence.com. Check out more of his writing at the Tunessence blog.