Ever feel frustrated with your progress on the guitar?  Well, don’t worry because you’re in good company.  One of the most common themes I hear from students is some variation of frustration.

First off, just know that struggling to get where you want to be from where you are is a never ending process, with guitar or any skill you want to learn.  Some amount of frustration is an indicator that you’re being challenged and that’s a good thing.  That said, when the struggle starts to feel daunting, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate.  Here are a few pointers to help you work through difficult periods.

More Often, Less Time

Try doing more frequent practice sessions, but shorten the amount of time for each session.  This will pave the way for a fresh perspective without allowing enough time to let excessive frustration take hold.

Reward Yourself

Try noodling around with something you enjoy playing, with no goal in mind.  Remember that today’s “I CAN’T PLAY THIS!” will likely become tomorrow’s fun noodle piece at some point.  Try to appreciate that you overcame other guitar hurdles before and that this is just the current one.

Just Take a Break

If guitar is really stressing you out and you just can’t seem to get anything right, put it down and walk away for a while…seriously.  This seems obvious, but sometimes our need for perfection turns into self defeat.  This is very common when you’re working on a piece that implements a new skill.

You will sometimes reach a point where time spent will produce diminishing returns.  In this case, time away is actually useful to help things gel between your hands and your brain.  You may be amazed how much better you do after a good break.  Depending on the piece and your mental state, a good break could be a couple hours, or it could be up to a week.

Think About Golf

They say that golf is played largely in the head of the golfer.  I see guitar much in the same way.  It’s an activity that requires coordination between your mind and body.  And if your mind is constantly on that last shot you shanked, there’s an increased chance that you’re going to shank the next one, and the next.

Using the above techniques will allow time for your brain to process your new guitar skill and also create the space for a focused mindset during practice.