It’s not uncommon for many new guitar players to feel like they’ve suddenly stopped making progress. After learning the fundamentals quickly, learning to execute the techniques you didn’t think you could pull off and playing the songs you love (and even those that other players on the same skill level found particularly tricky), it happens.
You won’t notice it at first, continuing your practice sessions regularly. Then you realize that no matter how much you’ve been practicing, you’re getting nowhere. It’s like you’re not absorbing anything new and you keep on fumbling with techniques. You’re not advancing in your guitar playing at all.
You’ve hit a plateau.
Before you ditch your guitar and call it quits, stay calm. Know that this situation is normal and most of all, temporary as long as you have the determination and commitment to keep on learning and improving your guitar skills.
Here are some ideas on what you can do to push through that plateau and get your guitar mojo back.
Do Something Else That is Still Music-Related
Take a break from playing guitar and do something else that you would enjoy. Listen to new music or attend a gig, read a book or articles about a musician or music style you’ve always been interested in, watch music documentaries, check out the latest guitar magazines and whatever activity that’s related to music and playing guitar.
You can even start looking for your next ax to give you something to look forward to. There are some really great electric guitar models under $500 for budget-conscious beginners. Just do what you need to do to keep yourself motivated and interested in music in general and guitar in particular.
Tweak Your Routine and Change Course
Monotony can make you feel bored and uninspired, which can lead to that feeling of not making any progress. You can try changing your practice routine by adding different exercises in or trying to make progress in other aspects of learning to play guitar. For example, if you can’t work through a certain scale, try another, or work on a new technique. You can come back to it when you’re ready and reinvigorated.
Assess your knowledge and skill in the following areas so you can have an idea of what you can work on to change things up.
- Fretboard knowledge
- Ear training and playing by ear
- Guitar playing techniques
- Music styles
- Reading music and sight-reading
- Composing and writing lyrics
How do you change course if you’ve hit a guitar plateau? If it’s taking you longer than usual to make progress in reading music, for instance, you can work on training your ear or improving your finger dexterity and accuracy.
Study Guitar Theory
Beginners who get stuck in a rut with their playing can benefit from learning guitar theory. It helps to understand why exactly a chord is played like so, what scales mean, why you shouldn’t play some strings with particular chords and so on.
The more you know about guitar theory, the more you’ll understand how everything works, giving you that “a-ha!” moment you need to give things another try and progress in your playing. You’re not simply just copying what other guitar players are doing, you actually “get” why they’re doing it. You’ll find that you are now more able to learn to play the riffs that seemed so elusive before and you have more confidence when doing improvisations.
Understanding guitar modes will be a great achievement in advancing your knowledge in guitar theory. Some people believe that it is difficult and unnecessary for guitar learning experience. Nevertheless, understanding modes and scales will help you to navigate the guitar neck and to understand the relationship between scales and chord.
Try a New Course
A great way to break out of your rut is to try something new. You can always try out a new course or even an online guitar course which you can start from right in front of your laptop. A great place to check out would be a review site like Know Your Instrument for some more advice.
Those are just some of the best ways to get yourself unstuck when you’re in a guitar rut. Hitting plateaus is part of the process of learning to play guitar, so you have to be prepared to push on through. You got yourself this far and we’re sure you can keep up the rockin’ good work. Play on!