Getting your head right... or getting your head on straight. It's a term used when we need to course correct. It's for when the distractions of life, or guitar, or whatever have led us down a path that may not be better than the one we were on.
Is this starting to sound familiar. It is to me. I've experienced this many times with guitar. I've also seen this happen in my students over and over again. It's frustrating when you have spent a ton of time and money on what you thought or what you were led to think was the right direction for you. Only to end up frustrated that you aren't having fun and you aren't enjoying the process at all.
What happened? Why is what was the most exciting and enjoyable thing you do, now falling flat?
I get it. I know where you are at. Why? Because I've gone through this many times. And each time I have gone through this, I ask myself the dreaded question : "Is this worth it?"
Well today, I share my answer to this question with you. And that is: "If it was so worth it to me back then, then something has changed. I need to find out what changed and fix it." I need to get my happy back. That could have just as easily been the title for this show: Get your guitar Happy back. It still could be. Not too late.
So, lets take the first step to getting back on track and think of some things that you most likely rarely think about. These are important defining questions that will shape your journey and keep you on the "Happy".
What do you mean Lee? It's easy. How do you come at this. What is your motivation to be a guitarist?
"Well, I don't know. I just like it. It's something to do. But I'm frustrated and I don't know why."
When you are honest with yourself about this, It's powerful. It's like you've kicked the door in. Okay, I've got 4 different scenarios that I see a lot. This isn't all of them, but a large percentage. See if one of them fits you.
"I mean I'm going to figure this thing out if it is the last thing I do!"
I see this a lot in intermediate players. "I've seen some of the people that can really play guitar. And If they can do it, I can do it."
It becomes an obsession. You are climbing a mountain and won't be happy....Aha....Did you catch that. (won't be happy) until I reach the top.
Having drive can be a great thing and can give you a lot of achieved goals, but to keep it up for a long time deteriorates your spirit, especially if you don't see the success that you desire.
Is the only reason that you pick up the guitar is that you want to be better than your friends, or your rivals, or just everyone else who plays guitar. Is the reason that you feel good about your playing dependent on making others eat it.
If that is your motivation, you have probably ridden the roller coaster for a long time. You pushed and pushed until you feel that you are better than "insert name here", only to come crashing down when you find out that there is someone better than you around every corner. The frustration starts all over again and the very fleeting "Happy" disappears again.
Are you convinced that you missed out earlier on in life and you are trying to make up for lost time. Oooh that's a good one. This happens in so many ways... to me... to many of the players I have helped. Ouch, right.
Are you in a rush to achieve? Will you be happy when you are the player that you think you should have been if it hadn't been for " insert situation here".
Did you catch that: I'll be happy if.....
We have talked about this a lot lately on our YouTube live streams...which you need to see. If you haven't yet, head over to YouTube and type in play guitar academy. Click my handsome face and subscribe. These have been so important.
We have also touched on this here if i;m not mistaken. And that is that your playing is good and it's important, right now.
Why is that, when I don't feel like I'm very good. Because it's you. And believe me, the things you are working on, right now, are going to effect your playing on down the road. You are building your musical house and it will stand on the things you are doing today, let's say 38 years from now. Just to pick a random number. I'd love to hear or see my playing from when I first started just to see what I'm still doing the same today.
To be content with the guitar takes two things.
What about the guitar gives you the most enjoyment? What gets you excited about picking up the guitar? Say it out loud, right now. Let everyone think you are crazy.
Now try to think a little about why is this fun for you?
Is this the thing that got you excited about the guitar in the first place. That may be the most genuine reason to play guitar. Don't dismiss it!
It could be the things that were fun for you in the beginning, or things that you stumbled into along the way.
Getting better is the common thing I hear. And that is fun when you know you are getting better on the right path. But, what we are doing here is figuring out where to direct our path. What are the things that are worthy to spend time on to get better and have a great time along the way.
The one to watch out for is if you find that what really matters to you is what other people think about you. When that is the only thing about music that matters to you, you are stuck on the roller coaster. Ups and downs, over and over again.
What I'm looking for here are the things that give you joy that aren't dependent on the approval of others. For example:
For me, I've rediscovered just how much I love making new sounds with the guitar. I've found my go to tones years ago. They are important but I've been missing something. I just loved spending time trying out new amps and pedals and pickups, and just because I've found the tones that work for me, experimenting has gone away.
This has left a bit of a hole in my journey. And the funny thing is that, I wouldn't have discovered my signature tones in the first place if it wasn't for having fun experimenting. It's an important part of my guitar playing that has fallen by the way side and I'm ready to bring it back, and share it with you. It's not technically guitar practice, but it is a practice that effects my guitar playing, and it is important.
There are many other things that I really enjoy about playing and practicing guitar that are important and that I would be at a loss if I let them go.
And success to me is to perform music that inspires me and also to try new things to experiment, art.
So making sure to know your big goal and the things that are important to be a part of the journey, and to work on them for small times on a daily basis, takes the pressure off, because you know that you are harnessing the power of repetition and can expect to progress and do that while enjoying the things you love about guitar, it makes your time with the guitar super enjoyable, stress free, and successful.
It sounds like this is common sense, but not many people I come into contact with are in this zone.
One big problem that can get your head off track is to be unrealistic with the commitment of being a musician. There are two costs that can derail you from having a healthy time with the guitar. Time and Money.
If you have lots of hobbies, a full time job, a full family life, and you want to practice and perform on top of that, pressure starts to build.
There can be resentment of your own and from others in your life. This is something that is worth dealing with. This is something that rarely works itself out. The time you practice or play is time you could be doing something else.
Spending the time to map out the things you have to do during the week, the things that you are expected to do, and when you will be able to practice and play is important for you and everyone else.
I'm not saying that you need to keep a calendar but it is good for you and your friends and family to know that you need some time for your instrument but you aren't trying to be rude or get away from them.
I've found that a quick conversation is all that is needed most times to say, hey, I need some time to practice, how can I make that work around everyone's schedule. It really helps the people around you know you respect them and it actually makes them feel like they are a part of what you are doing, and they can take some pride in that.
There is a definite investment that needs to be made to be a guitar player. But, GAS is real. And it needs to be kept in just the right place. Yes, a new guitar would be great. Yes, it could help you with your gig, or your tone.
Do you need it... probably not. But, it could make things more enjoyable... it sure can. We, as guitarists can easily get caught up in the moment when we realize.... I need it. But, spending too much money on gear and still not getting the results you would think is super common.
By the same token, if you are playing on an instrument that fights you but you just don't want to take the plunge on something new can also be holding you back.
Spending money on gear is a fine line and best figured out in advance.
Budgeting a reasonable amount of money for gear can save a ton of frustration. Just knowing that if you spend this money that is allocated for your music and things don't work out great.. it's ok. It didn't take away from other family needs. And if you want something else, just let that build up over time and you can spend it guilt free and hopefully increase your enjoyment with the guitar!
When I come to the end of the main topic, I usually have a free gift for you to download, but today is different. I just want you to take some action about what we have gone over today.
First I would like you to spend some time today to think about what you are doing and where you are going with the guitar.
I've spent some time doing this recently and It has been very powerful.
And it's free to do!
Then I would like for you to share what excites you about playing guitar below this post in the comments. If we all share, and you will see my comment there as well, I know we will find a lot of common things and some very interesting things about playing guitar that you may not have thought of. This is going to be fun!
This the first step to getting your head right and starting to enjoy playing guitar and to start a successful journey like you never have before.