How to keep motivated.

trevorus

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I'm quickly nearing 40, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how I slacked off in life. Right now, music is one of the big ones. So, I decide to buckle down, start doing fundamentals. Metronome practice, dexterity exercises, learning about chord structure, trying to learn songs I've always wanted to...

But, it's been kicking my ass. My coordination between hands, dexterity with the left hand, just bad. Trying to understand theory is like trying to understand Japanese with no guide. Why am I still doing this? Why do I own these instruments if I'm not really progressing?

Lessons? Sure, I'd love to, but with family, kids in sports, full time job, making meals, keeping up a house... I do all the things, get everyone to bed, then I sit down, plug in some headphones, and try and work on it. I don't get started until near 10PM. If the wife wants attention, then of course that takes precedent.

Find a gig that makes you want to play? Yeah, that would be nice. I play at a church gig, but the music is stagnant, and when it gets something interesting going, it's outside my skill set. I play with some guys in the garage... When they don't cancel or just don't contact me for months at a time. ****, they don't even have to bring anything. Guitars, bass, drums, PA...I provide it all. I even print chord sheets when we want to pick up a song.

Any of you fellow guitar players experience this? I just feel run ragged, and trying to play some guitar to help unwind has turned into boring crap because I can't really play anything new. I hit the wall and can't seem to climb over it.

I'm trying to resist the urge to sell all of it and forget I ever picked one up, but that thought has been more and more common recently.

Hell, even if you don't have any solutions, I appreciate the place to vent a bit.
 

GreatDaneRock

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This is probably not what you want to hear, but music/hobbies work in cycles.

If I was you I would get rid of most of the stuff, keep one guitar and amp, maybe some pedals, but prob not. Put the gear you end up keeping away for a while, walk away from it a bit.

It seems your life is jam-packed with family, work, and the everyday responsibilities of a responsible man taking care of things. Kids will grow and move out, life slow down at some point, and music will be there waiting for you.

I took a 10-year hiatus, and when I came back I was much wiser, focused, and determined. I've dedicated time to theory, and I'm a much better guitar player in part thanks to the hiatus which allowed other aspects of my life to flourish, including job opportunities which are important as we approach the latter part of our journey in this earth.

I now write songs, front a band, and the emotions and feeling around music, creating music, are much more meaningful than 15-20 yrs ago! For reference, I'll be 50 in November
 

Maguchi

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I'm quickly nearing 40, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how I slacked off in life. Right now, music is one of the big ones. So, I decide to buckle down, start doing fundamentals. Metronome practice, dexterity exercises, learning about chord structure, trying to learn songs I've always wanted to...

But, it's been kicking my ass. My coordination between hands, dexterity with the left hand, just bad. Trying to understand theory is like trying to understand Japanese with no guide. Why am I still doing this? Why do I own these instruments if I'm not really progressing?

Lessons? Sure, I'd love to, but with family, kids in sports, full time job, making meals, keeping up a house... I do all the things, get everyone to bed, then I sit down, plug in some headphones, and try and work on it. I don't get started until near 10PM. If the wife wants attention, then of course that takes precedent.

Find a gig that makes you want to play? Yeah, that would be nice. I play at a church gig, but the music is stagnant, and when it gets something interesting going, it's outside my skill set. I play with some guys in the garage... When they don't cancel or just don't contact me for months at a time. ****, they don't even have to bring anything. Guitars, bass, drums, PA...I provide it all. I even print chord sheets when we want to pick up a song.

Any of you fellow guitar players experience this? I just feel run ragged, and trying to play some guitar to help unwind has turned into boring crap because I can't really play anything new. I hit the wall and can't seem to climb over it.

I'm trying to resist the urge to sell all of it and forget I ever picked one up, but that thought has been more and more common recently.

Hell, even if you don't have any solutions, I appreciate the place to vent a bit.
Stick with it and improve gradually. There will be periods when you have more time to spend on it. And if you stick with it as much as you can now, you will be that much further ahead when you get more time to work on music.
 

studio

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I'm quickly nearing 40, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how I slacked off in life. Right now, music is one of the big ones. So, I decide to buckle down, start doing fundamentals. Metronome practice, dexterity exercises, learning about chord structure, trying to learn songs I've always wanted to...

But, it's been kicking my ass. My coordination between hands, dexterity with the left hand, just bad. Trying to understand theory is like trying to understand Japanese with no guide. Why am I still doing this? Why do I own these instruments if I'm not really progressing?

Lessons? Sure, I'd love to, but with family, kids in sports, full time job, making meals, keeping up a house... I do all the things, get everyone to bed, then I sit down, plug in some headphones, and try and work on it. I don't get started until near 10PM. If the wife wants attention, then of course that takes precedent.

Find a gig that makes you want to play? Yeah, that would be nice. I play at a church gig, but the music is stagnant, and when it gets something interesting going, it's outside my skill set. I play with some guys in the garage... When they don't cancel or just don't contact me for months at a time. ****, they don't even have to bring anything. Guitars, bass, drums, PA...I provide it all. I even print chord sheets when we want to pick up a song.

Any of you fellow guitar players experience this? I just feel run ragged, and trying to play some guitar to help unwind has turned into boring crap because I can't really play anything new. I hit the wall and can't seem to climb over it.

I'm trying to resist the urge to sell all of it and forget I ever picked one up, but that thought has been more and more common recently.

Hell, even if you don't have any solutions, I appreciate the place to vent a bit.
Yes, you have a lot on your plate right now. Take special care of that family and your precious wife. Those are important priorities that guide you for the rest of your life.

You sound like you have an acute awareness of your life and surroundings. (mid life can be a crazy time.)

Heck, 40 is still pretty young from my perspective, and yet I can't help hearing the anxiety in your post. Relax. Music is not going anywhere without you!

Music was around before you were born and will be with us into eternity!

Sure, keep an acoustic guitar handy and in a brief moment every now and then, bash out a half hour of some songs you learned. Enjoy that time giving your family a little concert. They are already your biggest fans!
Thanks.
 

KeithDavies 100

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This sounds like me when I was about the same age. I don't say this to trivialise at all, but this is the time when so many men have that "mid-life crisis". What am I doing, why am I doing it, how do I make it more meaningful? Some have an affair - don't! - some buy a sports car - yeah, probably don't do that either - and the rest of us just somehow trudge our way through it for a while. But you come out the other side. As someone said, the kids grow and take up less of your time and energy after a while. It feels like forever when you're in the middle of it, but when you get past it you look back and realise it was actually quite a short time. And very precious, too, when you look back on it.

Please don't sell all your gear. Unless you're short of the money. Pack it away, perhaps, if its presence just seems to get you down. But you'll regret getting rid of it when you come back to all this later. It's difficult when we get in a rut with our playing, and can really frustrating and a bit depressing. But remember it's something you actually took up because you enjoy it. We're not all going to be the guitarists we dream of being, and that's okay. In terms of, nevertheless, getting a bit better, take the pressure of yourself and play and experiment a bit. Maybe try alternate tunings. Try slide. Try things that are a bit different and just see what you learn, and what settles into your playing.

I'm really sorry it's tough right now. But these things pass, life will get easier again, and as someone above said, music and guitar will still be waiting for you on the other side. None of that's going anywhere.

Take it easy.
 

hnryclay

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Two possible outcomes, either change your expectations, or change your situation. You wisely are prioritizing your family first, good on you. Now knowing you cant practice at night for any amount of time, and realizing that guitar or any musical instrument takes time, you need to reframe your expectations. Play for fun, when the kids are older, you can practice more and get better. There really is no reason to be frustrated. However I would suggest that you might be able to invest in a headphone style practice amp, get up at 5 in the morning and spend an hour playing most days. Honestly if you cannot play 30 minutes to an hour a day, even with a teacher you will not see quick improvement. For someone like you that has a lot on thier table, setting honest, reachable goals on a schedule might bring you piece of mind. There is always going to be a time in your life when you can devote more time to the guitar, but only one time in your life when you have a young family.
 

ping-ping-clicka

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I'm quickly nearing 40, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how I slacked off in life. Right now, music is one of the big ones. So, I decide to buckle down, start doing fundamentals. Metronome practice, dexterity exercises, learning about chord structure, trying to learn songs I've always wanted to...

But, it's been kicking my ass. My coordination between hands, dexterity with the left hand, just bad. Trying to understand theory is like trying to understand Japanese with no guide. Why am I still doing this? Why do I own these instruments if I'm not really progressing?

Lessons? Sure, I'd love to, but with family, kids in sports, full time job, making meals, keeping up a house... I do all the things, get everyone to bed, then I sit down, plug in some headphones, and try and work on it. I don't get started until near 10PM. If the wife wants attention, then of course that takes precedent.

Find a gig that makes you want to play? Yeah, that would be nice. I play at a church gig, but the music is stagnant, and when it gets something interesting going, it's outside my skill set. I play with some guys in the garage... When they don't cancel or just don't contact me for months at a time. ****, they don't even have to bring anything. Guitars, bass, drums, PA...I provide it all. I even print chord sheets when we want to pick up a song.

Any of you fellow guitar players experience this? I just feel run ragged, and trying to play some guitar to help unwind has turned into boring crap because I can't really play anything new. I hit the wall and can't seem to climb over it.

I'm trying to resist the urge to sell all of it and forget I ever picked one up, but that thought has been more and more common recently.

Hell, even if you don't have any solutions, I appreciate the place to vent a bit.
sounds like you've got a really serious inner couch.
just slow your role a bit and recognize there's a list of things that you want or thinK that you
SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD HAVE ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED THE THING ON YOUR IMPRESSIVE
list of things that you would like to learn and accomplish.
May be talking to a guitar teacher and having guided lessons so that you just listen to your teacher and follow follow follow instructions for a year or two and you will be amazed by what a professional can help you with
Yes there are those that know how to teach others how to do things and that's their business, and doing that is what keeps them in business
Take a deep breath and in no time you'll be playing Abba's greatest hits like a pro, with a hound dog taylor lead part when the last verse rolls into your solo.
000000000000 octo hat.jpg
 

Tommy Biggs

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My .02 is to keep your hand in, play for fun and to get better. With a super full plate, seriously focusing on guitar to get good would be nice - but doesn't seem like you've got the time.
So keep playing, keep thinking. Learn one thing, retain it and move on.

You posted:
I play at a church gig, but the music is stagnant, and when it gets something interesting going, it's outside my skill set.

That's where I'd focus first, figuring out what you don't know about that, and then going after it. It sounds like that's your low hanging fruit. It's arguably a stable situation, and your already in it. My thought (I've never played that type of gig or music) would be to think about it like a record producer and try to see what you can add beyond what has you feeling stagnant. Think about being in (for example) a one hit wonder band -you'd be playing the same song the same way every night for 50 years! I'm guessing that with what you're doing there's at least some seasonal variety.

Finally I agree with @GreatDaneRock that things seem to be cyclical, and eventually your path with cross with like minded players. Keep your hand in and work to retain your current skills and move incrementally in directions you need to develop. Like this: My coordination between hands, dexterity with the left hand, just bad.

That part is wood-shedding for sure, 30 minutes a day of some focused scalar and interval exercises (with a metronome!) will get you in better shape in no time. Concentration, progress, and developed focus will help your ear, internalize your clock, and give you ideas.

Quitting is for quitters! This too shall pass.
 

David C

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I played guitar a lot when I was younger, up until the point I got out of college, to be exact. Then work took over so I focused on that. Marriage and financial responsibilities took over as well and guitar wasn't a consideration. There are only so many hours in a day.

Now I'm retired, and took it up four years ago. I'm having fun with it now, built a couple of amps, bought some new guitars, and just enjoy my time when I can. I know I will never be that great guitar player, but I don't beat myself up over it. It's a hobby that I can take into old age and that is that.

My advice is to put the guitar aside for a bit. There will be a day when you have more time for it.
 

JL_LI

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Nobody wants to hear the truth. Who are you? What are you? Focus on that. What's your full time job? Buckle down and be the best you can be at it. You'll learn to focus that way. Guitar is a hobby. You'll be able to focus on it better with the time allotted for it when you're able to focus. 10PM? That's late. How much time do you spend watching TV? Your wife gets your undivided attention at 10PM. Even if she only wants to complain. Your kids get your undivided attention until homework is finished. They've earned screen time. You've earned guitar time. Claim it. A big part of focus, even focus on a hobby, is cleaning your plate so you can actually focus. Cleaning your plate means eliminating distractions and competing demands. Next, and this is important. You don't have to play an hour a day, every day. Watch chick shows with your wife on Thursday night. Peace in the valley is worth it. Remind her that you also have needs. Musicians can be an undisciplined lot. Amateur musicians can wrongly think they don't need discipline. So be who and what you are first. Be the best. Clean your plate and take the time you need for your music. Nobody said it's easy.
 

Aldus Bunbury

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Everyone’s situation is different, but I can tell you what helped me most in the days when I was juggling the needs of a wife, small children, grad school, and two jobs: I bought a guitar stand and put it by the couch (with a guitar I didn’t mind leaving to the ravages of the children). I found myself playing for half-an-hour a day but in five or ten-minute stretches of time.

As to what to learn—that’s even harder to know what to suggest. Again, part of what helped me was learning familiar songs but reducing all the chords to two- or three-note versions in unfamiliar locations/voicings. Also, figuring out familiar songs in less-common keys (for the guitar) like A-flat.

Just a couple of simple things that might help. I do wish you all the best. Balancing all the demands is never easy, but it’s especially challenging when you have all the responsibilities of a young family.
 

trevorus

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Nobody wants to hear the truth. Who are you? What are you? Focus on that. What's your full time job? Buckle down and be the best you can be at it. You'll learn to focus that way. Guitar is a hobby. You'll be able to focus on it better with the time allotted for it when you're able to focus. 10PM? That's late. How much time do you spend watching TV? Your wife gets your undivided attention at 10PM. Even if she only wants to complain. Your kids get your undivided attention until homework is finished. They've earned screen time. You've earned guitar time. Claim it. A big part of focus, even focus on a hobby, is cleaning your plate so you can actually focus. Cleaning your plate means eliminating distractions and competing demands. Next, and this is important. You don't have to play an hour a day, every day. Watch chick shows with your wife on Thursday night. Peace in the valley is worth it. Remind her that you also have needs. Musicians can be an undisciplined lot. Amateur musicians can wrongly think they don't need discipline. So be who and what you are first. Be the best. Clean your plate and take the time you need for your music. Nobody said it's easy.
Honestly, I have not sat and watched my TV in probably months. Last time was likely watching a movie with the kids. If I do sit down for entertainment, it's watching old star trek or something while usually having a guitar in my hands just working on it.

I don't expect it to be easy. I just expected SOME progress.

How to keep motivated? The answer must be coffee
You ain't kidding. I take my coffee very seriously, even roasting my own beans.
 

Jazzcaster21

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As a long time guitar teacher, I have a had few students in the past such as yourself: married, full-time gig, kids, etc. They usually last a few months before they have to quit because "they don't have time to practice". I get it. I try to be flexible with them and suggest either doing an hour every other week or, taking lessons a la carte. Take one and then a few months later (or longer) when you feel ready, take another.

As someone posted above you need to find time to practice at least 15-30 minutes a day on something that in the grand scheme of the musical picture, can be quite boring, if you want to get better. BUT, It's hard to make yourself practice theoretical concepts when you only have time before you go to bed. Before you go to bed, I imagine you want to wind down and play your guitar, not practice it. There is a big difference between the two: Playing is doing that: you play the tunes you know, like to play etc. It should be fun and not work. Practice involves much more. You need to NOT be tired and ready to focus if trying to learn/internalize a new concept. It's more work than fun.

IF you want to get better then you need to find a time when you can practice and be as consistent as you can with it. 15 minutes a day of concentrated practice will do wonders for you; more than 30 minutes to an hour of playing what you know. Get up earlier. Do whatever it takes in order to do this. Make sure you communicate to your family that you are trying to get into a regular practice schedule and that you will need whatever time in order to do so.

Ditch the church gig if it's not doing anything for you. Why waste your time doing that when you could be using that time for something much more constructive, like: taking a lesson, working through a True Fire course, etc?

Make a list of what you want to accomplish, both short and long term, be as specific as possible and start chipping away at it.

Where there is a will there is a way. If you want to get better at the guitar then you will find a way in which to do so.
Don't give up completely because you will regret it. Keep at least one or two guitars handy, have one of them out, ready to be played at any opportunity.

Or, maybe you take a break for a few years? Either way it's up to you.
 

AxemanVR

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Learning Music Theory was the key for me, but learning it does take a certain mindset (for a lot of people it’s too complex and/or too boring). So you certainly have to find ways to make it exciting.

I always personally found it to be very exciting myself, so it never felt forced to me, and the reason is because of the way I approached it...

~~

I learned Music Theory playing only guitar. The notes are the same regardless, just arranged differently for each instrument, but that’s neither here nor there.

Learning it on a keyboard might have been easier, but even if I had the chance to do it all over again I still wouldn’t change a thing, but that’s not important either.

The greater point is that it takes a long time to fully understand Music Theory no matter which path you choose (there are no short cuts) that’s why I highly suggest turning every lesson into an opportunity to create music - since creating music makes it come alive! (Just like Peter Frampton did in 1975).

Learning intervals and chords? Write a song!

Learning scales and modes? Write a song!

Studying progression patterns? Write a song!

Don’t just mindlessly “practice”, but make everything an opportunity to create real music.

Writing music is absolutely one of the most fulfilling aspects of playing music for me - besides the fact that it also catapulted my overall understanding of how music works...

...so I can “feel” like Peter Frampton does...





 
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rand z

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It takes a certain type of person(ality) to stay motivated without threats or the promise of $$$.

You can call it passion, persistence, desire, love or whatever... it's all interconnected and all the same.

Don't approach it with any expectations.

(Personally, I never had a problem with it.)

How to keep motivated?

Look ahead and not back.

And, have fun!

Good luck!

imo.
 

AxemanVR

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Here’s a link to a Music Theory primer I wrote, for anyone who may be interested:




 




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