Improvements on guitar, like many things, occur in baby steps. We get better little by little. Big leaps are rare, although they do sometimes happen.
But we can’t expect them to.
We have to get better each day, even if progress is barely noticeable.
A key skill is being able to recognize: where you want to go, what the steps are leading up to it, and acknowledging when progress has been made. Having a strict timeline can help, but it can also hurt as it will be discouraging if things don’t happen “on time”.
Take a guitar skill and break it down into its most basic parts. You want to be able to solo? Well, you’re going to need to be able to play single notes with your right hand and coordinate that with single notes in your left hand. Maybe start by playing a major scale, minor scale, or even a pentatonic scale. Master one octave at a time. Be patient and consistent. Work on it twice a day, and think about it in your free time.
Never stop learning. I’m currently working on Travis picking and advanced chord melodies. And blue grass licks. And I run through these daily. I get a bit faster and more automatic each day.
Think about it this way: If you’re a music therapist and you have a typical career course, you could be practicing music therapy for 20-30 years. 30 years is longer than Jimi Hendrix was even alive!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to become Hendrix. But if you practiced a little bit each day and kept working to get even just a little bit better, you could be in the top 10% of all guitarists midway through your career.
But again – that can’t be the goal. The goal is little by little. Pick the skill that is just beyond your reach, not the one that is WAY beyond it.
Try not to beat yourself up while you’re working on it. Your progress is not a reflection of who you are as a person or music therapist. It’s all technical, not judgmental. If you can separate the skill from your self-worth, you’ll be able to approach it from a practical standpoint instead of an emotional one.
I know this is hard to do, but it’s important!
Ok, I’ll get off my soap box. I’ll admit that writing this was as much a reminder for me as it was for you. In fact, it started in my personal journal 🙂
Summary: Little by little, small improvements add up. Take delight in the baby steps and be kind to yourself.
What I’ve been recommending for self-talk lately: “I enjoy playing guitar, and learning it comes naturally to me.”