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So You Wanna Be Perfect...

Monday, May 14, 2012


I know, I know...

You're excited about learning the guitar and this time "you're going to do it right". You've made a little vow to yourself that goes something like this… "I won't move on until every note is perfect!"

BEWARE... PERFECTIONISM CAN BE A TRAP! Perfectionism can dampen your enthusiasm and hamper your learning. Frustrations and disillusionment are sure to come. Eventually, you say to yourself, "Well, what does it matter anyway. I'm never going to be perfect at it." The final closing of your guitar dream occurs when the guitar gets put back under the bed.

Perfectionism can often work against you in your learning. Beware of putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.

When a toddler is learning to walk you don’t expect them to do a perfect Waltz step on Dancing with the Stars. For the same reason, to expect yourself to play everything flawlessly during these early stages is unhelpful.

Focus on competence, not on perfection. Focus on each exercise and song to be under your control, not that they are perfect.

You are going to make mistakes - tons of them. This should neither bother you nor surprise you. It comes with the territory.

A TALE OF TWO LEARNERS
Learner A: "Hey, learning guitar would be fun." He starts learning and works at it a little bit each day. It fits comfortably into his daily routine of work, kids, life, and guitar learning. He works on his guitar lesson for 20-30 minutes each day. Some days great progress is made - other days are struggles. But at the end of each practice time he puts his guitar away and goes on to other things.

Learner B: "Hey, learning guitar would be fun. I've always wanted to learn." Before he even starts learning he says to himself, "If I can just take this serious enough then, by my sheer will, I can make myself a guitar player."

He dives in immediately becoming active on the discussion board every day while his course is on its way. He buys an expensive guitar thinking, "If I'm going to take this seriously then I'm going to need a serious instrument."

Finally the course arrives and he thinks, "If I want to improve quickly then thirty minutes is not going to be enough. An hour or more a day should do the trick." And so on...

Days turn into discouraging weeks as he thinks, "Why can't I play this song perfectly? I should be better than this.” Then he says, “I know the answer - I'll double my efforts. I’ll do 2 hours a day!" A few days later he is frustrated and ready to give up. Eventually, the guitar gets put away, right next to the relics of several other endeavors that were started with great hopes only to end up back in the closet.

I’ve seen these two types of learners a hundred times. Here’s what I’ve found. I can get more music in and out of Learner A than Learner B every time - even though learner A practices half the time of learner B.

At the beginning stages, demanding perfection of yourself can hinder you. Don't fall into the trap and frustrate your dream of being a guitarist.

Strive for competence and control, not perfection.

Just a thought from your coach...

- Steve
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