How I Finally Ended My Struggles Learning To Play Guitar

by Maurice Richard
Senior Instructor at Halifax Guitar Lessons

Like many people who learn to play guitar, I struggled. It was not easy for me.

It took me a very long time to learn basic chords and finally be able to put them together into something that resembled a song.

We are not talking days or weeks or months here. We are talking in years.

The pattern was like this. I would get inspiration, pickup my guitar, start to practice and try to get better.

After a few weeks and sometimes months of consistent effort I would still be frustrated, made almost no progress, and lost all my inspiration. So, I would put the guitar down and stop.

At one point I thought I would never learn, that I was not meant to play guitar, that I did not have the talent. That was a dark day.

The good news is there was just enough desire left so I did not quit and I did finally figure it out.

struggles teaching myself guitar

Problem #1 – I Was Teaching Myself

I made this mistake honestly.

My wife learned to play on her own and other people she knew did as well. So, it seemed logical I should be able to do it too.

Unlike my wife, things did not go easy or well for me. After weeks and months of trying I still could not change between chords quickly or smoothly.

Forget playing through a song. I did not have the skills to make it through the first few lines yet!!

For me learning guitar was frustrating. It was slow. It was not much fun. So I quit and started more than once.

I began to think that it was true. That you had to be born with talent to play guitar.

Problem #2 – I Had No Idea What I Was Doing

Teaching yourself guitar seems like something you should be able to tackle without a problem.

I mean how hard can it be to learn a handful of chord shapes, change between them, and keep some kind of rhythm with it.

That’s really all learning guitar is right? It does seem that simple when you watch others playing. They make it look so easy!

Well I thought that and when I tried to do it I fell apart. Over and over and over again.

That’s because I was doing things completely wrong. But the worst part is I had no clue this was the case. I was oblivious to it.

As far as I could tell I was doing everything right. I watched closely and did what they did. But my results were different.

Solution – I Found Someone To Teach Me

I actually had no idea it was possible to hire a guitar teacher when I started. I just assumed teaching yourself was the only way.

Then I made an even bigger mistake. Once I found out you could get a teacher I did not do it. I stubbornly kept trying to teach myself, unsuccessfully at that!!

I can laugh about it now but this is the one thing that held me back from success and caused me more frustration than any other mistake I made learning to play guitar.

When I see how quickly my students progress with proper guidance and support I can see how much this mistake cost me because it would have shaved 10 years off my learning curve. And that is not an exaggeration.

Anyway, several years ago, out of sheer frustration, because I was not progressing and my playing was not great, I finally sought out a guitar teacher.

Problem solved right?

success learning guitar from proficient teacher

The Key – Find An Experienced And Certified Guitar Teacher

Since I expected all guitar teachers to be proficient and know how to help me, I was very disappointed with my first experiences.

One was a guy who played and gigged in local bands most of his life. He was a really good guitar player. His teaching approach was not very good though and I did not learn much except a few cool tricks.

Not what I was looking for.

The next guy was a university graduate from the highly regarded Berkley School of Music. This guy was really good as a player and he knew a lot of theory that the other guy did not.

In the end he wanted me to learn his things, his ways, in his time. That did not jive with me. I did learn a couple of cool techniques and some interesting theory. But I could not put it all together yet.

Until I decided to look for a guitar teacher who understood me, my goals, my desires and had the experience teaching the others did not have.

It took time but I found that person and because he knew what he was doing and was a master guitar teacher, I improved a lot and quickly! Finally!

So, don’t just hire any teacher. You need to research them and find the ones that are trained on how to actually teach, not just know how to play. That is the key.