Frustration can be the biggest enemy for your students when learning how to play the guitar, but it doesn’t have to be. Everyone who ever quit playing guitar did so because they got frustrated. The truth is, we ALL get frustrated with our development once in a while…a small degree of frustration is unavoidable…but it’s how you MANAGE your frustration that makes all the difference.
Part of the problem is that most people tend to think that learning guitar is like walking down a sloping, down-hill path…that it gradually gets easier as you go. In a perfect world, you would quickly learn one thing, then keep moving forward to the next thing, then the next, etc. until you finally master the instrument in an easy, orderly fashion. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Unfortunately, learning the guitar is really more like climbing a giant set of stairs. Your students pick up the guitar as a beginner and then instantly run into a wall (the first step). They have to climb up that wall to get to the next step. Once they get there, they hit another wall…then another and another. There’s nothing easy about this process, and many people just get tired of climbing the steps, so they camp out on whichever step they happen to be on at the time. This is known as being on a “plateau”…when you keep trying to improve, but you don’t seem to make any progress, so you give up.
The key to helping your students succeed is understanding what frustration really means. When they start to feel frustrated, that means they’re about to reach the next step, and it’s time to climb again. It doesn’t mean they’re FAILING…it doesn’t mean they don’t have what it TAKES…it doesn’t mean they should QUIT guitar and find something easier to pursue. Frustration means they are WINNING. It means they’re making PROGRESS toward their goals. It means they are on the verge of REACHING the next level! If they were camping out on the “plateau”, content with where they are in their development, they wouldn’t be feeling frustrated. The fact that they feel frustration proves they are moving forward and breaking new ground!
So, if you can help your students to change their perspective a little bit, frustration can be their BEST FRIEND instead of their WORST ENEMY. Teach them to use their feelings of frustration as an opportunity to talk to you about their progress. When they feel like this, it’s time to make some plans to climb the next wall and reach that next level. You, as their teacher, should have some guidance for them about the most effective ways to climb the step just ahead, so make sure you explain to them up-front that they need to ACT on those feelings of frustration…they need to talk to you and be proactive. If they IGNORE the feelings of frustration, they’ll eventually get dragged down until all their motivation is gone. Teach your students to guard their motivation! Use their frustration as a cue to push harder and smarter, and they’ll start to see results.
What are some of the things that have frustrated you as a guitar player and teacher? How can you turn them around for good? Leave a comment below to tell me about it!