The Main Reason Why You Aren’t A Better Guitar Player

By Tom Hess

Do you ever wonder why you haven’t reached your guitar playing goals yet? You might think that it’s a lack of talent or musical ability, but the truth is far more complex. In reality, nothing is stopping you from becoming a great musician. However, because you fear negative outcomes, you hold yourself back from taking the necessary steps for achieving success in your musical life.

The following are the most frequent fears possessed by most guitarists and what you must do to overcome them and reach your musical goals:

Fear Of Being Too Old To Become A Great Guitarist

A lot of guitar players contact me on a yearly basis to ask me if they are too old to get good at guitar. Generally speaking, these people are under the false assumption that they can’t become great guitarists because their favorite guitarists were much better than they are at a much younger age. This causes the student to ‘lose hope’ and give up on doing the things that would take his/her playing to a higher level.

This is what I tell them every time (and what I am telling YOU right now):

Guitar players do not fail to achieve greatness because they are ‘too old’. The concept of age is just a mental construct. You only fail to become a great player if you do not dedicate yourself to doing whatever it takes to get there. Rather than allowing ‘age’ to be your excuse for failure, focus on developing the skills you need to reach your goals, find out the best methods for practicing them and make ‘practicing guitar’ a high priority in your life. When you continually practice what is needed to reach your musical goals (in a correct manner), you WILL achieve them – no matter how old you are. Learn more about this process by reading this informative article with guitar exercise ideas.

I’ve worked with many guitar students who thought they were too old to make real progress on guitar, and every time, those who believed what I wrote above achieved their goals in a fraction of the time compared to those who did not trust in what I said above.

Fear Of Failure

A lot of guitar players assume from the start that they simply don’t have what it takes to achieve major musical goals. If you fear that you are unable to learn guitar exactly as you’d like, the following will occur:

*You stop creating goals for yourself that truly inspire you and start settling for achievements that seem more ‘realistic’.

*You spend increasingly more time practicing things that are easy/you have already mastered rather than things that will push you to become a much better guitarist.

*Since you only set smaller goals, you will never reach your full musical potential. You will be more likely to give up at the first sign of challenge because you believe you are just ‘not good enough’.

The worst part is, you’ll end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy because you spend so much time focusing on ‘failure’ rather than the things you actually want to achieve. To make sure you do not become overwhelmed with a fear of failure, do the following:

*Only focus your mind on the things you desire the most in your guitar playing (and look ahead to the day when your goal is finally achieved). No matter what, you will always face challenges when you try to achieve great things…but all obstacles can be overcome. If you’ve been working hard to learn something for a long time and you are having no success, it’s not because you lack talent – you just have to use an alternate approach. Change your approach to get different results.

*Determine your exact guitar playing/musical goals, and put together a plan to reach them in as little time as possible. Once you’ve done this, don’t give up until you’ve reached the very end and achieved every last goal. Read this instructional column on how to achieve guitar playing goals and get started now.

It is much easier to overcome your fear of failure when you take lessons with a top tier guitar teacher who understands what it takes to accomplish any musical goal you may have. Over the past 25 years I’ve helped thousands of students achieve very big musical goals (who were afraid of failure at first). I invested ample time into mentoring them in order to raise their self-confidence and get them to truly believe in their own potential. This changed their mental perspectives and helped them make fast progress to become awesome guitarists.

Fear Of Playing In Font Of Other People

It is very difficult for many guitarists to overcome the fear of playing in front of others. You might be able to play something easily while playing alone in your room, but when others are watching, you might not even be able to play a single note correctly due to things like uncontrollable ‘nerves’, sweaty hands or a sudden lapse in memory. Worst of all, when you fear playing in front of others, you will generally avoid doing it – this means you will never gain valuable experiences for your musical growth, such as playing songs with other musicians, playing with a killer band or performing live for an audience.

To overcome this fear, you must stop believing in the idea that other people (watching you play) are waiting for you to fail so they can ‘make fun of you’ or criticize you. Fact is, the people watching you play are generally NOT thinking about you at all - they are only thinking about themselves. They are jealous of your musical skills and wish they had the ‘guts’ to play in front of others, like you. No one will really notice your mistakes unless you point them out yourself.

The key is to forget about what others might think and use every time you play for others as an opportunity to improve your performance skills (NOT as a once in a lifetime chance to play something 100% perfect). For instance, if your hands become extremely shaky because you feel nervous, make it your main focus to reduce this problem every time you play for others. Each time you perform, track your results on a piece of paper and measure your improvement. By doing this, you eliminate the concern of what other people are thinking and replace it with a concern for self-improvement. Then, over time you will become more relaxed.

Learn more ways you can get better at performing on stage by reading this column about breaking free away from musician stage fright.

Fear Of Criticism

A lot of guitar players fear having their guitar playing criticized and will do anything they can to avoid situations where others could judge their skills (causing them to ‘feel bad’ about their playing). They will do this even if it means sabotaging their own progress or missing opportunities to get useful feedback! That’s right: people will sabotage their own potential to become better guitarists because they are afraid of what other people might say!

Here is an example that perfectly illustrates how this fear holds guitar players back: Each year I hold powerful guitar training events where guitar players fly across the world to train with me for many hours per day, several days straight. This results in MASSIVE improvement in all areas of their guitar playing. However, each time I hold this event, there are also many students who convince themselves not to come because they are afraid of what others would think about their playing (I can clearly see this by reading a flood of emails that these people send me in the weeks/months leading up to the event). By letting their fear of being criticized get the best of them, these students miss a huge opportunity to become vastly better guitar players and continue to suffer the confidence of giving in to their fear, rather than facing it head on.

Even for advanced guitar players, fear of criticism can get in the way of major accomplishments. A lot of times, great players will procrastinate on releasing their debut album because they are chasing ‘perfection’ out of the fear that someone might think their playing isn’t good enough. As a result, they never grow from these kinds of musical experiences.

To overcome this fear, do the following:

*Know that the greatest way to become a better musician is putting yourself into situations where you are challenged to grow and improve. This is what the best players do on a consistent basis.

*Understand that perfection is something worth reaching for, but not something you can ever actually ‘reach’. It’s important to make mistakes in order to grow as a musician. Instead of avoiding mistakes, embrace them and utilize them as opportunities for learning how to get better.

*Get a clear understanding of what areas in your playing you need to work on in order to improve. Learn your greatest strengths and weaknesses by using this free assessment about how to reach guitar playing goals.

You’ve now learned how to overcome the fears that prevent many guitarists from taking the next step to become better players. Take advantage of this, by applying what you’ve learned here to move closer to your ultimate musical goals. To get more help with building your musical skills, take this free mini course on the topic of how to reach musical goals and quickly become a better guitar player.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is an online electric guitar teacher, recording artist and virtuoso guitarist. He trains guitar players from around the world how to reach their musical goals in his correspondence guitar lessons online. Visit his website to receive many free guitar playing resources, mini courses, guitar practice eBooks, and to read more articles about guitar playing.