Senior Instructor at Halifax Guitar Lessons
Ever feel like your guitar playing progress is going slowly, that you are stuck or hit some kind of plateau? Or worse, that it seems to be going backwards even if you are practicing consistently?
You could play something fairly well yesterday and all of a sudden it is falling apart no matter how much you try? This is incredibly frustrating and can lead you to think you can’t do this anymore and maybe even quit.
Why does that happen?
Are You Really Going Backwards In Your Playing?
One reason could be because you are not aware of things that are happening during your practice time to cause the problems. You may be playing faster than usual without noticing it for example.
The truth is likely that you are not going backwards, it just “looks” that way on the surface. Or sometimes the problem is that you “feel” like things are not moving forward.
You are probably still progressing and the actual problem is more than likely that you can’t really measure it objectively to know for sure.
Great, But Why Does It Still Seem Like I Am Not Progressing?
What tends to happen is that once you get more proficient at something it becomes harder for you to notice the progress because it becomes a lot smaller relative to your current level.
When you first start out the progress can be quite large because you are developing new skills you did not have before. Now you are refining them.
It’s like taking a block of wood and creating a work of art from it. The first part of the process you are taking away larger chunks of wood to get the general shape of the item in place.
As you near completion the changes to the work become smaller and smaller. You may make a small chip here and sand that part over there. Those changes are tiny compared to the initial cuts and can be imperceptible to most of us.
This is exactly what can happen to your guitar playing.
Tracking Your Progress Is The Key To Success
The way to objectively know if you are still improving is really simple but it can have profound results on your practicing, your mindset and playing in general. And it is something almost no one learning to play the guitar actually uses.
What you need to do is to start tracking your guitar playing progress. If you can measure something you can then objectively know with certainty if you are getting better or not.
And once you have the data in front of you, it is also much easier to figure out how to proceed and know what to focus on to progress even more in a shorter time. This is usually very motivating for most guitar players!
Tips On How To Track Your Progress In Different Ways
One important thing to remember when measuring your progress on the guitar is to be careful not to do so too often. Weekly is probably the minimum amount of time you want to use to compare your results.
That’s because there will be days when things seem to be going backwards. That is normal and it can be very disheartening. If you measure and compare things over longer periods it is much easier to see the real trend in your playing.
You can measure the number of chords you know and keep adding to the count. You can do the same with riffs, with songs, and with strum patterns.
You could use a metronome to track your speed at many things like how fast you can switch between specific chords, or the time it takes to play a progression of chords, or the speed you can play one or more songs.
Do not underestimate the power of using this simple way to know you are progressing on the guitar. It is very powerful, but you have to actually be diligent and use it, and when you do, you will become a better guitar player.