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What can we do if we start to fall out of love with playing guitar? I suspect the most common reason that people do is frustration or feeling little progress is being made. You can only play that favourite riff so many times before it gets boring and it can be very hard to find your way out of rut without the right tools. But luckily the right tools for this job are free and easy. Tool 1. Change things up A change is as good as a rest and this is my preferred tool for maintaining interest in playing. If things are getting stale, I completely change what I’m working on. If I’ve been playing a lot of blues then I’ll start digging into some jazz, or acoustic fingerpicking; explore effects or try some new theory idea. Whatever it takes to fire up the passion again. Tool 2. Refine your goals Long-term goals should be fluid and flexible and often if you find yourself in a rut it’s worth checking in with your long term-goal and see if it’s moved, changed or if you can try a different path to get there. (Check out the Effective Practice series on my website). I’ve found myself a couple of sometimes falling out of love with music, not just guitar, and that’s pretty scary for a professional! I have heard many students say that they’re struggling to connect, but again we have an effective tool... Tool 3. Expand your listening Seem a bit obvious? Maybe, but it’s something very few people actually do, and with the advent of streaming services like Spotify and YouTube it’s never been easier to explore new music. Starting with an all-time favourite on YouTube and then checking the suggested videos can be a good place to start. I like the suggested playlists in Spotify too - or you can find me on Spotify and find some of my ‘favourite guitar music’ playlists. Tool 4. Dig deeper If you really don’t fancy going too far away from your chosen path, then dig deeper into it. Pick your all-time favourite artist, find a complete discography and listen to the stuff you’re not so familiar with. Or read a biography or find interviews and discover out who they like and try that. I found this route a great tool for finding incredible new music. I’ve had students say that they just don’t have time to play (work gets in the way or ‘life takes over’), but in truth it’s more likely that motivation is down: what about that 15 minutes you wasted watching rubbish TV when you could have been playing? There’s a tool for this scenario too... Tool 5. The forced five minutes Finding 30 minutes a day to practise can be tricky, but finding just five should be easy for every guitarist. When I’ve used this tool, those minutes have flown by; I often find that I play a lot longer because I’m enjoying it. There should be nothing set, the aim is just ‘play around and have fun’ – the real meaning of play. It can be a great rut buster. Tool 6. Take some time out It’s also fine to have time off – without guilt. I’ve often found that taking even as much as a month off seems to have helped things fall into place when I came back – however, do expect to need some time to get the muscles working again.
Well I hope these tools can be useful if you find yourself falling out of love or struggling to make time for our six-string friend. I think it’s quite normal to have times when you’re not practising as much, but it can be helpful to recognise it and have some tools to help you get back in the saddle when you want to. Safe travels my friends.
Justin has six great tools to inspire you to keep practising