How to keep motivated.

oldunc

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jan 31, 2014
Posts
2,149
Location
California
I've largely abandoned guitar for some fairly extended periods over the years- one thing that keeps me from doing again is the memory of how horrible it can get with neglect, and how difficult (and tedious) it can be getting it back. In my 70's now, with a lot of older friends, it's clear to me that if I let it go now it probably won't come back; also considerable gratitude that my hands still work as well as they do (true about aging in general- keep taking those walks, cooking your dinner etc.; let it go and it's probably gone).
That said, a SHORT break can often be refreshing, as can listening to some new music.
 

ndcaster

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Posts
11,164
Location
Indiana
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.
go to bed by 10:30

get up at 5:30, i.e. after sleep defrags your brain and it's at maximum receptivity -- I have water and a cup of coffee and start boiling an egg

then put in an hour on your instrument

personally, I learn songs with the goal of performing them at a date certain

that date certain keeps me motivated, and if you ever wonder why gigging is important, it's partly that it drives and organizes your learning

that's another thing: it's not "practicing," it's learning

the things you mention are all part of learning, but they're not the goal: the goal is to integrate them as a performance

metronome work is not good in total isolation: it's a tool to make your performance better

scales are not good in total isolation, only when you understand how they increase your understanding of what's happening, or what's possible

technical exercises are not goods in isolation: they are only good when you want to play something and can't, yet, because it's hard for your brain-muscle circuit

motivation itself isn't an isolated thing, like a lightbulb that you light up by pedaling harder

motivation is driven by something specific, like a dream
 

phart

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 30, 2011
Posts
79
Location
Ohio
Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m 40 and I think you and I are similar in a lot of ways. I think it’s pretty common to look around at our age, realize we have it pretty good, we’re doing all the right things, but still be frustrated or just feel like something is missing. Therapy helped for me, I think it’s something almost everyone can benefit from. At the very least, go easy on yourself. You wouldn’t play pickup basketball with a bunch of buddies and then feel bad you’re not as good as Lebron James. There’s no reason why you should kick yourself because you’re not as good on guitar as Eddie Van Halen.
 

OmegaWoods

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Nov 10, 2020
Posts
1,472
Age
54
Location
East TN, USA
This will sound obvious and maybe someone's already suggested it, but I think we all need to be able to succinctly answer a pretty basic question, especially if we see the guitar as something about which we ought to stay motivated. The question is...

"Why am I playing guitar?"

Nebulous concepts like "personal enjoyment" and "helps me relax" are fine for small talk with the normies, but in your internal monologue, you have surely thought a lot about this question on a deeper level and your answers are hopefully more specific. Why are you doing it at all? And as tangibly as you can define, what does "being good" at guitar mean to you if you're not yet where you think "good" is? That will help motivate you to fill in gaps... and I think that's what it's all about... seeing enough "improvement" to keep going; and to see those improvements, you're gonna need to have measuring sticks.

Do you want to be able to play along with [your fave player]'s killer solos or instead want to play flamenco at an open mic? Maybe both? Obviously there's no single answer to the question for any of us, and asking here... you're gonna get a lot of different suggestions.

I will offer that you can pull up a level and examine approaches to learning itself versus looking for specific waypoints from people. One approach that has worked well for me is to just pick one thing I don't know on the instrument and see where that takes me. Even better if it's a known-unknown skill shortage from where I want to be. This approach has thrown some doors wide open for me too, put me down a path of all-new unknown-unknowns.

And sometimes I just learn the one thing, but trying to "boil the ocean" as the corpospeak goes is a path to disappointment imo. Managing things in digestible, little chunks helps motivation too. You don't have to climb the mountain, you can just make the next ridge. I promise you, it adds up. Software development is another analogy, the "Agile" vs "waterfall" project management approach if that's familiar to you.

As an aside, technique work never hurts anyone and it's easy to work on. Only you know whether what you need is shred work, hybrid picking, or rhythm/timing, but it's always time well spent and will bear fruit.

Just keep playing is the best advice I can give. Putting it down is easy.
Well said, @buster poser . As always.
 

LOSTVENTURE

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Posts
2,297
Location
Charlotte, NC
Whenever I ask myself why I play, I tell myself that this is something I can do. I've always learned by ear, but early on I was surrounded by better players who helped me with the basics and the theoritacal aspect. I even took an elective course in college that taught theory as it applied specifically to the guitar.
Just keep in mind how much ground you have covered so far and know that it all adds up in the long run.
 

TunedupFlat

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
169
Age
42
Location
Alberta
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.
Dude, I get that feeling. I struggled with getting players that would bother to show as I am not particularly close to a city.

What I found worked for me was changing my space into a music studio, and then whenever I would go to play or practice I would do things like doubling my guitars(attempting to record 2 separate identical guitar tracks) or just turning on record and playing.

The other thing I did was teach my kids to play drums😉. Having a little drummer that can hold a basic beat can makes practice time lots of fun. (Now I just have to teach one of the kids the bass)
 

Old Verle Miller

Tele-Meister
Joined
Apr 7, 2022
Posts
297
Location
Texas
What can you visualize (in detail) you'll be doing three months from now or a year from now?

Are you in your extra bedroom writing songs, in a studio with some other guys backing some new vocal talent, on a stage fronting a local band or sitting around a campfire with a bunch of smiling people enjoying what you do?

Are you a player, a performer or an entertainer at heart?

Until you have a vision of your future in your head you have no compass to help you decide what direction the next step should be.
 

historicus146

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Posts
1,147
Location
chicago area
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.
Jazz
and jazz chord progressions a nice break from country guitar
 

brookdalebill

Tele Axpert
Ad Free Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Posts
116,920
Age
65
Location
Austin, Tx
The next gig, and my desire to do it well is all I have needed for most of my life.
Still works, for me.
 

Peegoo

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Posts
12,825
Location
Beast of Bourbon
I use simple math.

Take your age and subtract that from the average life expectancy. Break it all down to the number of days you have left. You will end up with a timeframe that allows you to pursue the things you want to do--which is scarily short once you subtract the time for the thousands of things you have to do.

Next, you have to decide what it is that you really want to accomplish in the short time you have left, and you have to get yourself into the mental place that pushes you to do it.

Example:

80 years (average life expectancy for a male in the US)
Minus your current age, e.g., 50 years old, = 30 years left on the topside of the dirt.

30 years minus sleep time: 8 hours of sleep in a day is 2920 hours of sleep in a year, which means 2920 / 24 = 121.6 days of sleep, which is ~four months of sleep, so with a total 3648 days of sleep over the next 30 years, 30 minus (3648 / 365) = 10 years, which results in 20 years of total wake time remaining for eating, going to the bathroom, mowing your lawn...and practicing guitar.

Nothing like death to light a fire iunder a person.
 

Texicaster

Friend of Leo's
Ad Free Member
Joined
May 9, 2018
Posts
3,376
Location
It Varies.....
Late to the party but this happens to me quite frequently.

What gets me out of it is listening to new (to me) music!

Get a subscription to Tidal and SiriusXM. The pair will cost you $15 a month and can cancel any time. Start digging around and find something that's interesting or go back and fill in the gaps of music you misses in that you didn't have the albums and let them spin. I'm always remembering albums I haven't heard in years. (I just remembered Larry Coryell "Barefoot Boy"...took 30 seconds to find on Tidal and it's playing right now!)

Grab a Fretboard Journal! Even Guitar Player has gotten more interesting recently. Have you see Beatles "Get Back"? Check out some music videos. Heartworn Highways makes me pick up my guitar every time I watch it!

Audible has some great music audiobooks! "Play It Loud" a history of electric guitar gets me excited every time I listen to it!

Check out some live music!

Go to a bluegrass jam!

Lastly don't fret it...have fun. We PLAY guitar...not WORK guitar!
 




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