How Brutal Honesty Can Help You Progress Faster
An extremely important character trait to develop when improving your guitar playing is brutal honesty. What I
mean by this is being totally honest with yourself about the results that you are currently getting from your
guitar practice. In other words…is your current method of practicing guitar producing the results that you want?
And if you're not getting the results you want…why not?
Why Honesty Is Vital - An Example
Let's take a look at an example…learning cover songs. It's really common for some guitarists to learn bits and
pieces of songs, but never actually learn to play songs from start to finish. (And to be honest, I've been guilty
of that plenty of times!). As a result of this habit, some guitar players start to beat themselves up and feel bad
about the fact that they don't learn complete songs. They continue to berate themselves, but don't actually take
steps to figure out a solution.
And this is where honesty can be extremely useful. You can ask yourself questions like…
- Do I actually want to learn to play these songs from start to finish? Maybe the songs
you've chosen don't"float-your-boat" enough to actually want to do the hard work that it would take to complete
- Are the songs I'm trying to learn simply too advanced for me? When you are learning a song
by your favorite guitarist, you are basically expecting yourself to play at the same level of that guitarist.
So if they are a virtuoso-level player and you're a beginner, obviously it won't be possible for you to learn
the song. (At least not until you elevate your technique to a much higher level).
- Am I giving myself enough time to learn the songs? Some guitarists arbitrarily allocate a
period of time to learn a song…often without taking into account the level of difficulty of the song.
- Do my current practice habits help or hurt my song learning progress? The results that you
get from your practice are a really clear indication of just how effective your practice is. So if you are
getting results that you don't want, then chances are, you aren't practicing in an effective way.
- What specific technical or musical weaknesses are stopping me from learning songs from start to
finish? Be honest…and try to be as detailed and specific as possible.
- Do I need help? There's absolutely no shame in getting help from someone else. It's better
to be honest and get help from a guitar tutor, than to keep on repeating the same pattern of getting poor
results forever! A good guitar tutor will be able to help you learn to practice in a way that will give you the
results that you want. (But just be aware that it takes time and a heck of a lot of effort to master the skill
of effective guitar practice).
I should also say here that the point of asking yourself these sorts of questions isn't to make you feel bad. So
be honest with yourself, but do it in a non-judgmental way. For Example: Don't beat yourself up if you realize that
you have poor practice habits. Just treat this realization as a signal that you need to change your current
Being honest with yourself is really powerful. By analyzing your current playing honestly you'll be able to find
very specific areas that you'd like to improve. And because you've actually taken the time to find and define these
areas you can then begin the work of strengthening those weaknesses. And that's when you'll see yourself progress
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