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Why do people struggle to improve their guitar playing

There are many reasons why people struggle to improve their guitar playing. Below we go through some of the most common reasons we see with people that we’ve met, students who have come to ask for help or musicians who have struggled to improve. Find out if any of these apply to you, so you can recognise them, work through the challenge and avoid them in the future.


A lot of people are not persistent enough

This is the biggest reason that I see people struggling to improve is that they are not persistent enough. Whenever there is a challenge, or frustration in your playing, you have to be pig headed about it and carry on to get past the problem. You need to find a solution and solve the problem that you have. This may mean that you need to get expert advice, so you have the right information to help you. In no way should you give up on your guitar playing. The only reason to give up is if you don’t like the guitar anyways. Otherwise, you have to keep pursuing and keep playing even when times are tough.


Playing the same stuff over and over again

We tend to see this more with guitarists who have been playing for a little whole. They “practise” the same things over and over again. Which may be different for different people. Some people just play the same songs over and over again, some people will do some improvisation exercises. However, playing the same things over and over again on the guitar will not create drastic changes and improvements in your guitar playing. Just like exercises, where changing the routine will help you body to adapt and become stronger rather than get stale. The same with your guitar playing. You need to switch it up.


Only learning how to play songs on the guitar

This is very typical of self taught guitarists where they go in search of songs they like and they only learn songs. And when you learn songs, you do learn new things, because you are learning the songs themselves. The most important to learn on the guitar is really how the song is put together, what technique goes into playing them, what are the fundamental skills that allows you to play any of these songs. Just copying the songs doesn’t help improve your guitar playing skills much, it’s just copy and pasting. There are some benefits with learning songs but you need to do a lot more than just learn songs if you want to drastically improve your guitar playing.


Getting too happy with their guitar playing progress

Often people will push themselves really hard initially, and then get to a couple of milestones and get out of the “cycle of learning”. You need to be consistently setting new goals and milestones for yourself to remind you of what’s next. Otherwise days, weeks or even years can go by and your guitar playing to stay the same or get worse! You need to find a reason to apply yourself.


They don’t know how to improve and don’t have the right information

Some people just don’t know how to improve. They haven’t gone to an expert and instead is looking around for the information to try to improve but it isn’t right for them. To improve on the guitar effectively, you need the specific information for your guitar playing. Finding random exercises, hoping that’s what you need, may actually distract you from your playing and making it worse. Without all the exercises being part of a plan, it’s like doing random push ups, then some jogging a week later, then some swimming another time. It’s never going to get you to be really fit as if you had a specific exercise regime for your body and goals.


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Not seeking out help from a guitar teacher or mentor

You may or may not be surprised at the amount of professional guitarists who have a professional teacher, coach or mentor who helps to train and coach them on their guitar playing. You will probably not be surprised at the number of beginner and intermediate players who believe that you can teach yourself guitar effectively. This is a big fallacy. There are also another group of people who think they are too good for a teacher or think that the teachers won’t have anything to teach them. With this attitude, they tend to not learn well even when they have a teacher! Having someone who has the information you need, who knows all the blind spots of guitar playing who can put all the information together for you and guide you along is vital. And it’s so true that you don’t know what you don’t know. And going through guitar playing with this mindset, you can end up with a lot of gaps in your knowledge and techniques and wonder why your guitar playing isn’t improving.

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They don’t believe in themselves

A lot of people don’t give themselves enough believe and faith that they can play the guitar. It’s something that they wish they could play but they worry they are not talented and lack the confidence to put their best effort into it. In reality, no babies come out of the womb playing guitar straight away. It all takes learnt skills one way or another that comes together through a tonne of hard work to be able to play well. It’s really important that you give yourself that believe that you can play the guitar. Once you believe in yourself, then work out how you can achieve it.



People hold themselves back from improving

Some people worry about the amount of hard work it takes to play guitar and therefore hold themselves back from learning and putting in that effort. And what I would say to that is, if you truly love guitar and love music. No amount of work is too much when you get to do something you love! And after awhile, it won’t even feel like work. While you think about playing the guitar for the rest of your life, each moment you spend practising, you are gaining and building on your playing to improve over time.


I always say, if you only want to try it for a couple of weeks, then it’s really not worth it, but if you are willing to give it more time because you are passionate about it. Then you will definitely not regret it. Playing the guitar is so rewarding and will bring you so much fun and happiness.


About Author: Darryl Powis is a guitar teacher, instructor and owner of Guitar Tuition East London holding Guitar Lessons based in East Village, Stratford for London in England.