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12 Reasons Why People Stop Learning How to Play Guitar

In today's Tip article, we discuss the 12 reasons why people stop learning how to play guitar and provide advice on how to overcome each challenge.

By Shawn Leonhardt for Guitar Tricks and 30 Day Singer

Given all the articles, blogs, and educational websites dedicated to playing guitar, you would expect there to be many more guitarists in the world. But it seems that there are a lot of people who own guitars than know how to play them. Unfortunately, it is common for people to have issues with following through when it comes to music. After all, it takes a long time to become a good guitarist, and learning a new skill takes a lot of time and commitment. The learning process can be long and arduous beginner guitar students, be they young kids or an older guitarist.

One of the most common reasons people stop playing guitar is their personal experience with music teachers. A bad teacher can have a negative impact on a student’s progress, instilling a lack of confidence and keeping one from reaching their full potential.

From our experience, here are 12 reasons why people stop learning how to play guitar and critical mistake they make along the way. But the good news is, you can learn how to overcome them with new techniques approaching new learning pathways. You can get back on track and do amazing things in your musical journey.

Bad Action and a Poor Setup

A guitar that is not tuned or properly setup will never be able to be played correctly. If the intonation is not right, even good guitar players cannot succeed in such a scenario. You can’t be too cheap in your purchase of a new instrument. Beginner guitar players will need to learn the basics of keeping a guitar strung and tuned correctly. It is not necessary to become a trained luthier, but learning the right way is important for a properly setup instrument and keeping it that way. Also, use a guitar tuner!

Improper or Lack of Practice

Not following proper techniques, keeping a regular schedule, or lack of practice in general will always lead to failure. This is one of the number one reasons first-timers and people taking beginner guitar lessons do not progress in guitar; they just do not keep a routine. Everyone has their own unique methods of studying and practicing; find what makes you stick to it and advance appropriately. It could be engaging in private weekly lessons with a professional guitar teacher, reading a method book, watching a professional musician on YouTube, playing guitar video games, or getting involved in a mentorship program; the key is consistency.

Lack of Change

Playing the same thing over and over is not productive for most guitar students; even if your dream is only to shred, you need to challenge your muscles and brain with regular practice. Try new easy guitar songs, genres, and styles, including ones you may not even like. Our bodies and minds adapt to things fast, so to keep an interest we always need to be looking for new ideas. Practice chord progressions for a while and then switch to learning basic music theory. The next time you practice play with around with open chords and basis chords. Follow guitar tabs. Jam with some friends. Just keep in mind this can also go too far if you don’t let some aspects stick!

Jumping Ahead

This is another major source of failure: trying to do too much too fast. Sometimes, guitar teachers and videos are just too much for the beginner to take in; if so, find another route that you can keep up with to reach your guitar goal. If you don’t understand something yet, that is fine; just learn how to go back to the right point to catch up to where you need to be.

Pain

It is not easy to play any instruments; they all have pain associated with some body part! As for guitar, your arms, back, fingers, and more will hurt for some time. Eventually, you will develop calluses and muscle memory, and it will be easier, but there is pain to overcome. Unfortunately, later, as you age, it will come back with a vengeance, so enjoy the guitar playing while you can!

The Plateau

Sometimes, students are doing well, and then they reach a point where they can’t seem to advance to the next level or learn anything further — and that’s not much fun. This often comes with pain and frustration and is like hitting a plateau; you just aren’t moving any higher. This is why seeking new tricks, ideas, and styles is so important. Listen to your favorite songs or new music and try different ways to find the necessary path to continued success. Sometimes, major life events outside of music can even help move past this point!

Lack of Success

Sometimes, things aren’t going well with a new guitarist, and there is nothing but failure. This is angering and often leads to quitting music, but don’t let this anger get the better of you! Find the easiest songs, melodies, or rhythms that work for you, and take every small win you can. It’s like jumping ahead; if you are failing too much, take a step back in your instruction to the very basics. Play children’s music if you must — it’s a great way to get back to basic chords with chord structures and chord progression — find something to succeed at musically, have a lot of fun, a sense of victory, and boost that confidence!

Feeling Instead of Studying

A lot of new instrumentalists like to “feel” their way around music; this is fine, but you still need to understand the standard knowledge. Playing guitar is like baking, labor, driving machinery, or any other skill! Having a feel for it is great, but knowing the instructions is even better. If you want to succeed long-term on the guitar, you must study it! As mentioned above, knowing and practicing the basics will help you in your guitar learning and allow you to be satisfied and play for the rest of your life.

Not Understanding Music

It’s also very important to study music theory in general; it is severely lacking in most modern education curriculums. That’s why there are so many guitar methods and styles out there; many have had to teach themselves! Which is fine, but not everyone has that ability. Use active listening to dissect and analyze the music you like best and even songs that you don’t like. Learn your intervals, scales, chords, and progressions, and your guitar playing will only get better!

Our Expectations Are Different From Reality

This all aligns with jumping ahead, feeling how you play, and sometimes a little hubris; we have a fantasy that may not match reality. Every guitarist has different physical and mental capabilities, so we can’t all be the same immediately. Plus, the amount of time and effort we can put into our playing makes a big difference. Those with more comfortable lives can obviously practice more, but there are many factors that will affect how we end up playing. Make sure to keep your goals realistic to avoid quitting in frustration.

Digital Distractions

This reason may be worse than a poorly setup guitar, lack of education, or no practice! There are so many distractions with smartphones, social media, apps, and all sorts of modern ways to grab your attention and keep you from playing. While these things are very addictive, they must be kept in check if you want to succeed at any hobby, let alone playing the guitar!

Not Making Guitar A Bigger Part Of Your Life

We’ve mentioned hurdles and plateaus that most beginner students hit and one of those is staying on too narrow of a path and not fully embracing the guitar. Do you really want to play guitar?? Then, do it as much as possible, read about it as much as possible, and keep it by the bed or the couch so it is always there. The best way to approach this is to play it every day that the lack of pain allows, learn to play, and even write your own new tunes. The more you pick the instrument up and make it a regular part of your life, the better chance you will succeed! The next step? Do it!

There are many reasons why people may fail or stop playing the guitar. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of how to avoid some of these pitfalls and mistakes. Remember, at the end of the day, you get what you put into a hobby or skill, so practice correctly and often, and you will soon see results that will inspire you to keep playing guitar.

Three Takeaways 

  1. Practice and Routine Are Key: The importance of regular, structured practice cannot be overstated. Finding a practice routine that works for you and sticking to it is crucial for progress.
  2. Embrace Challenges and Variety: Continuously challenging yourself with new songs, genres, and techniques is essential for growth and maintaining interest in learning the guitar.
  3. Realistic Expectations and Patience: Understanding that learning an instrument takes time and effort and setting realistic goals can help prevent frustration and quitting.

Conclusion 

The journey to mastering the guitar and making a great guitar player is filled with challenges, from the initial discomfort and learning curves to the distractions and plateaus that can hinder progress. However, by recognizing and addressing these common obstacles, aspiring guitarists can significantly improve their chances of success. Emphasizing the importance of proper setup, consistent practice, embracing variety, and setting realistic expectations, this article offers valuable insights for anyone navigating the complexities of learning guitar. Ultimately, the reward of playing music is within reach for those who commit to the process, demonstrate patience and perseverance, and have determination and enthusiasm every step of the way.

Mitch Wilson

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