How to Adopt The Best Attitude & State of Mind For Learning
You can always tell as a private guitar teacher when a student is not having fun.
If you are a private guitar teacher, then you probably already know that (unless you’re not good at what you do) the student not having fun doesn’t have anything to do with you.
The student who doesn’t have fun or who says things like “I feel that guitar is starting to feel like work”, is the student who:
- Hardly ever has time to pick up their guitar, so they don’t get the results they had hoped for.
- Do have the time but not the self-discipline or time management skills
- Takes very frequent breaks from lessons, and then wonder why he/she is not having as much fun with the guitar. (The more regular the lessons, the better the progress, the more fun one has)
- Overthinks things or worries too much. i.e. I hope…, I shoulda…, I could have…., if only…., I wish… This is the person who spends so much time worrying about what the teacher will say or think, that there is almost no energy left to still learn.
- The perfectionist. The perfectionist is never the student who gets the best results or progress. Nobody performs their best who puts the pressure and unrealistic expectations onto themselves that the perfectionist falls prey to.
- The student who lacks realism. This is the student who wants to get really good, who wants to learn theory and the fretboard, but who never has the time to practice anything, and who hence keeps on forgetting things: 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. For those students: just learning strummy songs that are easily digestible for them, is usually the way to go.
Many of these students, at some point say something like: “I am starting to associate learning guitar with pressure.”
This is usually expressed to me when those students somehow start telling themselves that they can’t keep up, or that they have too much going on, or that they have too much to work on, and so on.
Anyhow: the gist of it all really comes down to negative mind chatter.
Our reality is always what we tell ourselves it is.
We all have these narratives: the stories we create about how we see things, about how we think things should be, about why things happened the way they do, or why we feel the way we feel.
Those stories, left unchecked, can run rampant and start controlling our lives and our actions.
One example of this would be a student who continuously keeps telling himself that he needs a break from lessons because he has too much work. The fact of the matter is: no matter how busy one is, there is always time for that one hour of lesson in a week. We all have time-wasters somewhere that we can cut back on, to free up that one hour to prioritize guitar.
So many years, and countless breaks later, that student feels disappointed that he didn’t really get anywhere in his playing despite so many years of paying for lessons.
Students who fall in that trap, at some point realize then: “If only I had not listened to my own narratives about “not having time”, or “needing to take a break” or “feeling pressured to get it all done”.
I TOTALLY understand the pressure feeling, but I also understand that that feeling is something we do to ourselves, and the best part is: we can change it at the drop of a dime.
I’ve felt that way before too, but in my case specifically, (I still remember when I felt that way), it was because at that time I had too much going on. On top of that, I wanted to keep providing top results in all these different things I had to take care of, with included my various classes in a music school while also holding a regular full-time day job.
However: I never decided to just take a break from lessons or from my musical goals or musical training.
Not because I already knew I wanted to make music my profession, but because I knew that one doesn’t get anywhere with constant stopping and starting up again.
That is probably also why I never felt like “learning music was starting to feel like work”, or “less fun”.
I kept progressing, I didn’t feel like I was wasting time having to relearn things or forgetting things, which is why it kept being fun.
Playing guitar or learning stuff or practicing, or getting better, shouldn’t feel like work. Learning and getting better and working on exercises should be (and I really think IS) as joyful as just jamming songs on a new acoustic. People who feel otherwise, more than likely also just feel that way because they tell themselves stories about what is fun and what isn’t.
I feel a very strong connection to Tony Robbins’ statements/beliefs/teachings about what he calls “transformational language”. We control in great part how we feel by controlling how we choose to name something.
Ever since I read that in his book “Awaken The Giant Within”, that was, for me at that time, for whatever it is worth, a lightbulb moment.
This is a very powerful concept.
I’ve literally had a period in my life, about 12 or so years ago, where I was unbelievably burned out, had to drag myself out of bed, super tired all the time, didn’t feel like doing anything. Yet, I still had to be there for all my students, and attend to my projects and ongoing work. Then, it suddenly hit me, fueled by remembering what I had read in Tony’s book, that all my thoughts, words, and expressions, at that time all were:
I am so busy.
I still HAVE TO go rehearse with Dave and Cela,
I still HAVE TO write so and so emails.
I still HAVE TO call this prospect who is interested in studying with me.
I still HAVE TO learn this song I need to record tomorrow.
Everything I was saying, thinking, talking, speaking, dreaming, was “busy”, “having to”, “needing to”, etc… “
I made my own life a living hell just by nature of how I was labeling and wording everything in my life.
Thank god, that as some sort of flash of insight, I somehow suddenly remembered having read about Tony’s “transformational language”, and then it hit me: “Wait, maybe… if I change how I think and say things, maybe I’m going to stop being so burned out and tired all the time.”
Mind you though: I had felt THAT drained for almost 4 months.
And what do you know: literally exactly RIGHT the moment I had decided that I was going to rephrase all my thinking and communication as “wanting to”, “loving to” etc. “ (instead of “having to”), use the word “play” instead of “rehearse” and “practice”), and cut out the word “busy” out of my language completely, I felt an instant change in my energy.
I am not kidding you, you can’t make this stuff up – THE SAME DAY I made those decisions, the burned-out feelings I had been struggling with for over 3 months, instantly fell away. Not only was I not feeling tired anymore: my energy levels were so through the roof, I felt like I could conquer the world and handle anything.
I instantly became an entirely different person and my whole life instantly felt completely different.
So… “pressure”, too, is quite a heavy word that comes with a vast amount of baggage, as you know. 🙂
In addition to that: there is also the all too interesting question: “Hmmm… Who (or what?) is doing the pressuring?” 🙂
I didn’t want to go all Eckhart Tolle on you, but I have to face it: I LOVE THAT GUY!
Nobody ever improved really well on guitar from taking regular lesson breaks.
When something as much fun as learning guitar, starts to “feel like work”, one has to question why that is.
The person who has enough awareness to do so will almost always find out that they are simply thinking negatively about the learning or the learning experience, OR they’re simply putting too much pressure onto themselves or not spending enough time with their guitar (meaning: skipping the one weekly lesson hour).
Most people do what is intuitive: take a break from lessons. This is the least good decision. That decision always leads to regret and disappointment over time. Counterintuitive as it may seem: the way to break out of the aforementioned feelings, is by revving up the lessons and meeting more frequently to make up for the lack of practice time, and to start seeing progress again.
As by magic, that is when students suddenly feel the joy and experience the fun again.
Hit me up anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
People who take lessons: see way better results and progress, get much more complete information, and are exposed to way more creative ideas than you can get from a blog or YouTube video.
There is only so much that self-study can accomplish.
If you want to see amazing results and progress in your guitar playing, buy your first lesson here and get started ASAP.
You’ll impress your friends and loved ones in no time with your guitar playing!
Consider donating any small amount to help me keep this blog going.
Thank you for your support!