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March 2013--Don't Stop on a Plateau!

Monday, March 11, 2013
Don’t you wish learning the guitar were a straight journey? The more you practice the better you get – that’s how it should work right? But if you graphed the learning curve for the average guitarist instead of a smooth straight upward line, it would be several longer flat spots interspersed with a few shorter jagged upward lines. So, since we know there are plateaus in our learning, how do we best get through them?

Here are some keys to getting through the plateaus in your own learning.

1) Keep Going-- The single-most important thing is for you to keep practicing and keep learning. If you decide to give up in frustration or boredom then the game is over and nothing else matters. Just keep going, even though you may feel like you are fighting the same battles over and over again and that you are making little progress. In the brain, much of the process and activity of learning lies unseen.

2) Keep Yourself Interested-- Go see some live music. Buy that new music you’ve been thinking about. Get a songbook of your favorite band and start working through it. Do anything to keep yourself motivated while you are waiting for the breakthrough in one area of your development.

3) Be Patient-- Breakthrough almost always comes. Certain things just take time – a lot of time. Just because a concept takes a while doesn’t mean that progress isn’t happening or that something is wrong.

4) Face the Problem from a New Angle-- Let’s say you are working on barre chords and you’ve done the exercises day after day, week after week with little improvement. Put the exercises away for a week or two and begin working on songs that intentionally include a few barre chords.

5) While You're Waiting, Make Progress in Other Areas-- Don’t let one single area of your development slow and eventually stop your overall progress. Just because you haven’t mastered one concept doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move on to other things in other areas of your playing.

You are sure to spend a lot of time in your learning journey on the plateaus – everyone does. When you find yourself in one, don’t lose heart and stop. Just keep going, look for some new inspiration, and try to look at the problem from another angle.

Keep Learning!
- Steve
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