Play The Guitar…Learn To…

Posted by: Daniel R. Lehrman Posted in: Play The Guitar

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
THOMAS EDISON

It makes you wonder how many times we have given up on a project or hobby just before a break through. A lot of people, particularly novices at learning guitar for beginners give it up just before they get it.

We all have the potential to be far greater than we even imagine. In fact, few of us even come close to reaching our optimal capacity.

To play the guitar, as with many things in life we choose to do, can be achieved if we are willing to pay the price. Only our thoughts, desire, and work ethic limit us. While it is true that success may come easier for some people, we have to believe that anyone can achieve greatness if they are willing to work. No amount of cool, expensive electric guitars or acoustic guitars can make up for a poor work ethic or lack of desire.

PERSEVERANCE: Think about what Spud Webb or Mugsy Bogues has accomplished. These guys are just over five feet tall and they started in the NBA, Spud Webb won the NBA “slam dunk” contest competing against guys who were almost two feet taller them him. Is that incredible or what? These guys are living proof that ordinary people can achieve great things if they work hard. And they are just the tip of the iceberg.

Professional and amateur musicians, in particular, is a field full of individuals who have reached mind-boggling heights through persistence and good practice habits. It does not matter if you have a Fender Guitar that costs two thousand dollars, an Epiphone Guitar that cost six hundred and fifty dollars or a few Paul Reed Smith guitars. No one is born knowing how to play the guitar, simply put it has to be learned. Finding the right guitar teacher is a big part of it. The proper teacher will get to know you and will give you the correct direction to take, depending on your personal needs.

Think about the greatest guitar players of all time. The ones we know, such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buzz Feiten (he is really under appreciated, check him out on youtube), Roy Buchanan, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and a tremendous volume of guitar players you have never heard of. What you may not know is that lots of these guitarists never displayed any special aptitude for music or that they could even play the guitar early in life. How did they do it? Each one of them developed his abilities through unreal practice. In other words, they worked their butts off – that’s how.
Hard work and perseverance are incredibly powerful and effective assets if put to use. Primarily, that is one of my strong qualities, I like to work endlessly until I get the lick, guitar scale or song down. It certainly is not the level of talent I have . I work my butt off!

GENETIC SUPERIORITY: Genetics are important, no doubt, but even the greatest performers of all time at any skill work harder then anyone else. Think about Michael Jordan for a second. There is no athlete that appears to be more gifted. He is a physiological marvel. Physically speaking, he is an absolute genius. His teammates often complained about how hard he practiced and how he rode their cases to practice harder . Needless to say, Jordan has six(6) world titles, and the people that surrounded him worked darn hard too. Yet when Jordan was in high school he was cut from the basketball team not once, but twice, because he wasn’t good enough.

What does that say about genetic superiority and natural ability? I will tell you what it says. You can have all the natural ability in the world, but if you are not willing to work at developing that ability you will never reach your full potential.

Like Jordan in basketball, if you want to be a great or even a good guitar player for that matter, you have to work hard. To be part of a jam session or gig band is being part of a team, so the members who don’t work hard, end up leaving the band due to peer pressure.

Every one of the guitarists, known and unknown, including myself, put in extraordinary amounts of time practicing our discipline relentlessly. I’m talking adnauseam, until someone screams, “can’t you play anything else”? That is where the term “I’m going to the woodshed” came from. I just don’t want to be bothered, period!

ADVERSITY: Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read. Walt Disney was fired as a newspaper reporter because he was not a “creative thinker.” And did you know that he was also given a dishonorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps? There are literally thousands of people who have achieved greatness by overcoming failure and/or adversity. The world belongs to such people.

The way to measure a man is not how one behaves in moments of comfort and convenience, but how he behaves in moments of challenge amid controversy. How will you behave when you miss a note or play out of tune? Will you freak out and totally blow the vibe, or will you be cool, get your vibe back and then go home and practice more? The great blues guitar players are no different than a master Jazz guitarist or transmission rebuilder in regard to frustration. Sure, they get frustrated all the time, you will experience frustration at times also. To eclipse the frustration through more practice at your craft is the way to reach a higher plateau.

RESPONSIBILITY: My wife recently was telling me a story about former President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy seemed to have everything in his favor, He was a Harvard graduate, a war hero (PT109), and the President of the most powerful country in the world.
Half way into his Presidency though he made a major mistake by authorizing the invasion of Cuba. Consequently, most of Kennedy’s political advisers recommended that he either deny that he had major involvement in the invasion, or at very least not address the issue. Kennedy did just the opposite.
He stood before the American people and said that the Bay of Pigs was an atrocity that should have never happened. Then he took total responsibility for the invasion. He basically said, “I really screwed up big time on this one.”
Surprisingly, Kennedy’s popularity actually increased after he took responsibility for the humiliating defeat. By taking responsibility for his mistake Kennedy empowered himself.

Successful people accept the responsibility for taking risks in life and for being wrong now and then. It comes with the territory. They don’t waste their time and energy trying to justify their mistakes; they spend their time correcting the problem. Nothing makes a guitar player in a band look more foolish than the inability to admit they missed some notes, were out of time or simply did not know the song, and not take responsibility.

To apply this paradigm to guitar players, the only answer for being unable to play your lesson or remember a song is that you did not work or practice hard enough. Assuming you have a good teacher that understands how to teach guitar for beginners lessons properly, than lack of progress or great progress is your responsibility. Progress works both ways. Take credit for good progress, you deserve it. You need to spend more time practicing in “the woodshed” if your progress is below your ability.

Your success in any endeavor will be a product of the points and suggestions in this article. As a guitar player, I know that the skills, knowledge and ability to continue my education as a player relies on the paradigms we have talked about. Obviously all of us don’t have the same goals. What ever your goal, make sure you put in the effort.

Lots of other things factor into the equation. One of the most important items to consider is having a guitar that fits you and is comfortable. A guitar that is to big is not comfy and can be discouraging, if you are not sure, go to a music store and try a few on. you may be a smaller person and need one of the terrific smaller guitars available now. Whatever your vibe is, get a guitar that feels “good” to you. Determining what type of music is quite important, since different genres require different types of guitars. Different genres also incorporate different picking or strumming styles. Of course being good at all styles would be great.

Guitar Players Center brings this article to you to use as as positive reinforcement and what you need to learn about playing the guitar and becoming successful. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But, realistically speaking, making good vibes with your guitar is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world. And you have a lifetime to work at it, since it is not a race. There are no shortcuts, work hard and enjoy.

16 Responses to Play The Guitar…Learn To…

  1. I usually don’t comment unless i have something to add, but this is just a great article. It’s quite inspiring. I couldn’t have said it better myself. thanks danny.

  2. Daniel, that is a heavy duty comment, Thanks.
    Danny

  3. Pzychotropic

    Interesting article as always.

    What I want see next is the book! You should call it ‘Zen and the Art of Guitar Mastery’ as per Robert M. Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ – Hee hee!

    Cheers from here in the UK.

  4. Your article is mostly great, but I take issue with the John F. Kennedy misinformation that you credit your wife for.
    JFK graduated from Harvard in 1940.

    There was a Cuba invasion plan hatched up by the Eisenhower CIA and it was accepted by Kennedy. It employed a force of Cuban Exiles being trained in Guatemala. Castro found out about the invasion plan and was ready. The invasion was a total flop. 100 of the Exile forces were killed, many planes were shot down, and 1200 exile force prisoners were taken. They spent 20 months imprisoned in Cuba while Castro and Kennedy worked out a deal for compensation.

    The US traded 53 million dollars worth of pharmaceuticals and food to Cuba for the release of the hostages.

    In a reversal of fortune in the Cuban Missile Crisis John F. Kennedy saved the day and effectively kept the soviet union from putting nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba.

    Love, Your Wife

  5. Nathan McLaughlin

    great article

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  7. Danny-what an inspirational post, loved it. Dedication to anything can achieve greatness. My son, who we tried to find his niche for years, soccer, roller hockey, activities at school, guitar, nothing..zero, zip, nada.. With our arsenal of guitars, one day, I came home to this sound that was like no other, I mean.. no other, that was 2 years ago, and he hasn’t put it down since.. he’s got a good teacher..and we are quite proud.

    Me.. the bass guitar.. run for the hills though.. I don’t have it in me.

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  11. Bass Guitar to Learn

    What an amazing post! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts on playing guitar. You are putting very good effort into the stuff you post. Keep up the good work.

  12. Guitar Playing Technique

    I really like the content of this blog. Please do keep posting.

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  14. this is quite possibly the best article concerning guitars ive ever read and for that i give you props
    loved it

  15. It’s a very good article first I love to read articles that talk on the main subject but from a different aspect and especially from the mental aspect of thing. I love your examples and the way you put things together.
    When you play your guitar the melody is not coming from your fingers it’s coming from your desire and passion. It’s not the money or time it’s the passion. And that alone will overcome any obstacle.

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