Are You Letting Your Discomfort Bitch Slap You?

Let's face it. Most of us (including myself!) often feel discomfort when making big changes to the way that we do things. And this is especially true when learning electric guitar. It is all too easy to let our comfort zone and avoidance of discomfort stop us from making the progress on guitar that we deserve.

But what exactly do I mean by discomfort in the context of learning electric guitar? Well, I'll give you an example in just a second. But first, check out the diagram below…

Learning Electric Guitar - Process Map

Please take a few minutes to think about what you think this diagram means. Think about how it might apply to your experience to-date with learning electric guitar.

All done? Cool. Let's now take a look at an example…

 

An Example: Using A Metronome

Let's say for example, that you would like to really improve your timing and rhythmic ability. And after reading a few books on guitar technique, you realize that using a metronome when you practice would really help.

So the next day you go to your local music store and buy a metronome. You then rush home to try it out on some exercises that you've been practicing. After a few minutes practicing you realize something…it's freakin' hard. Those exercises that you can normally play easily seem impossible. Some of the things that you find hard include the following…

  • You find it hard to play and listen to the metronome at the same time. And this causes you to get out of sync with the metronome.
  • You're not entirely sure sometimes whether-or-not you're playing in time to the click of the metronome.
  • You don't really understand how the notes you play relate to the metronome. And this makes you feel confused and frustrated.

Guess what?

You've made the positive change of using a metronome and are now experiencing the discomfort of practicing things in a new way. And this discomfort is both normal and an expected part of the learning process.

 

So What Can You Do?

Once you notice the discomfort you have a choice to make…

  1. Persist with learning to use a metronome until it becomes comfortable. This may mean that you have to learn new things such as…
    • Learning more about rhythm and rhythmic notation.
    • Getting help from a more experienced musician such as a guitar teacher or a friend who plays better than you.
    • Having the patience to practice slowly until you feel confident with playing to the metronome.
  2. Stop using a metronome.

This decision is a really important one. The first decision will allow you to grow as a guitar player and reach a new, higher skill level. While the second one will keep you at your current skill level and cause you to plateau (and also feel like a big cry-baby who gives up when things become challenging).

I know all this stuff seems totally obvious, but I feel it's really important to think about. I believe that two big reasons why some players never really improve significantly are…

  1. They never make any positive changes to the way that they do things.
  2. They attempt to make positive changes but give up when things feel uncomfortable.

 

A Bit Of Homework

To finish off, I invite you to do the following things. I think you'll learn a lot by doing them…

  • Please write down a list of some positive changes you could make to the way that you learn electric guitar. This might include things such as…
    • Mastering scale exercises that you learn, rather than learning them on just a superficial level.
    • Learning to read music.
    • Practicing more each day.
    • Learning songs from start to finish, rather than just learning bits-and-pieces of a lot of songs.
  • Choose one thing from the list you wrote and start doing it today.
  • Do that thing each day until it starts to feel comfortable.

Have fun, and I'll catch you next time!


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