Finding Motivation as a Modern Guitarist

Do we strive to be an original expressionist? Or be happy learning the songs of others? One thing is for sure, it’s easy to look at learning the guitar as “just being a hobby.” With the majority of paid gigs relying on learning and playing the work of others, what is the best way to approach our instrument mentality and maintain our motivation? We find ourselves in a culture where it is widely accepted that people want to go out and listen to music they know. While doing this for one guy might be super awesome or even all they know, to another it could be a soul destroying event; which week after week takes its toll on the motivation and emotional connection with the instrument. How can we bridge the gap and find solace in the middle ground? 

1. The Holistic Approach 

Whether you’re starting out or have been playing years, it’s important to be aware of your whole self when it comes to the motivation behind playing and putting love into your instrument. What is it that makes you feel good about playing guitar? Is it picking it up and just feeling it out; simply playing in the moment and expressing how you feel? Or is it nailing a set of songs with a bunch of other musicians that can get people on the dance floor?

The two are very different disciplines and the motivation to nail down each route may be coming from very different places. Even if your goal is to be expressive with the instrument, it’s important to find the joy of perfecting playing a series rehearsed parts with a band. Or by the same token, if we’re not super confident as an improviser, being able to be confident and comfortable when that solo section comes along. It’s important to remember that there is joy to be found in both disciplines and the motivation for both lies within our ability to be comfortable in what we’re doing each time we pick up and play the instrument. Try to bridge the gap between the two.

2. Hobbyist vs Craftsman 

Whether you’re at the start of your instrumental journey or have being playing for years, it’s important to set your goals. Remember, it’s okay to be a hobbyist - it’s about having fun right? If the thought of being constantly validated and judged for doing something you simply just enjoy doing doesn’t sound fun, then that’s okay.

Being the bedroom guitarist is okay. Learning something for you and you only is okay. Playing in a tribute band because you love the thrill of dressing up and imitating your favourite rock stars is okay. If you want pick up and master the instrument and be revered as a totally unique virtuoso superstar, that’s also totally okay.

Don’t be put off by being called a “show off” or egocentric. If the very motivation for you picking up the instrument is to be the very best or to make someone weep with one note, awesome, but remember it doesn’t make you bigger than the guy who just wants to rock out his favourite jams for dancing folk every Saturday night.

There is no overriding quantifiable right when it comes to playing guitar, the thing to remember is do what makes you happy because that and that alone should always be the main motivation for playing. So remember, whatever you pick the guitar up for today - have fun!

Want to see how Mitch can give you some fuel for your motivational fire? Check out his full range of guitar lessons here:

If you would like to read more about getting motivated and staying motivated, then take a read of these other blogs: