Motivate Yourself to Play your Guitar

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Having Trouble Motivating Yourself to Play your Guitar? Try These Tips!

It happens to the best of us. Despite pursuing your craft to the best of your ability, you will sometimes find yourself stuck in a playing rut. It’s actually normal and nothing to be concerned about in the short term as long as you are committed to your playing. But if it goes on for too long, you may begin to lose interest. Here are some surefire ways to get you out of that rut and expand your musical horizons at the same time.

Listen to Different Styles of Music

Perhaps one reason you feel stuck is that you have been concentrating on one genre of guitar, listening and playing in only that style. Why not expand your horizons? If you play metal, for example, try listening to some country for a while. Pick some tunes in that style on your guitar and play around with the themes. No one says you have to stay there! Many genres cross over into others. A jazz guitarist would do well to learn classical and a punk guitarist could learn a thing or two from the blues.

Take a moment and think about some of the greatest guitarists around. Chances are, although they may play primarily in one genre, they are typically fluent in more than one and have elements of those genres in their playing. Jimi Hendrix had elements of blues and classical in his playing. Eric Clapton is excelled at blues, country and rock. Those are only two examples. Take a chance on a different genre; you never know what might happen.

Take Lessons

You never reach the point in life where you know everything. Maybe it’s been a while since you have had lessons. Or perhaps you were self-taught. In either case, having an instructor challenge your assumptions and show you other possibilities in technique can help make you a better player. Even master musicians still frequently get instruction from others.

Put the Guitar Away For a Week or Two

Musicians, singers and songwriters (all artistic and creative types, actually) occasionally need to regroup and find new inspiration for their work. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve actually set your guitar down and stepped outside! Go for a short vacation or stay at home for a few days and read that novel you’ve had on your coffee table for weeks. Take in some movies. Have dinner with friends or family. Don’t worry; you won’t lose your ability to play if you take a break for a week or so. This exercise can serve two purposes. First, you may find yourself inspired in ways you had never been before. Second, you may find your passion for playing renewed. Either way, you’ll be out of your rut.

See Live Shows

Nothing can inspire you to be great like seeing fellow musicians at a local concert. Chances are there is a great band playing near you tonight. It may be a legendary recording act or a young band just starting to make its mark. If you can afford it, go to see one of your long-time favorites sweat it out on stage. If you are on a tight budget, remember: you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on concert tickets to see a great act. Talented bands are appearing in your local clubs, theatres, music stores, even shopping malls! For a small cover charge (and sometimes no charge at all), you can see fellow musicians who will inspire you out of your rut. Try it!

Learn Vocal Melodies on Guitar

Tired of playing the same old licks? Try to play the vocal melodies of songs you like on your guitar. While this may be time consuming, it will help you out of your rut by stretching your abilities. It may also help you work better with singers, as you will gain a better understanding of melody.

Start Learning to Play Different Types of Guitars

This ties in with the earlier advice to listen to different genres of music. Playing different types of guitars can expand your horizons and make you a more versatile player in the process. Do you play a 6-string acoustic? Maybe a switch to slide guitar may be helpful. Hard rock slasher? Try flamenco on a classical guitar.

Discover Open Tuning

Another option is to change your tuning. Many guitarists (Keith Richards is an example) primarily use open tuning to create their sounds. Give it a try! If you own a second guitar, consider using open tuning on it, and keeping your primary guitar at standard tuning. A music instructor or dealer can help you with open tuning.

Learn an Alternate Instrument

Many great musicians excel at more than one instrument. Take the Beatles, for example. John and Paul were accomplished piano players as well as masters of their primary instruments. It helped with their compositional skills and made it easier to communicate with each other musically. They also played each other’s instruments more often than many people think.

If you feel stuck in a major rut, this may be the key to coming out of it. Take up a percussion instrument, or maybe a horn. Here’s another idea: If you play 6-string, why not learn bass? By learning another instrument, you not only become more inspired, you make your musicianship more well-rounded and more marketable.

Do what works for you

We’ve all had the doldrums in our lives, and the key is to never be satisfied with mediocrity. Try one or several of the above methods. If that doesn’t work, try another. Keep working until you see growth. Then, you’ll be out of your rut for sure.

Glenn Sutton

Ozzie’s Music
12222 Poway Road,
Suite #27
Poway,
California 92064

Phone 619-306-3664
858-679-6997

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