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How to stop being so hard on myself

Dan Shipway

Slim Shady
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Hey guys, long time no talk eh? I have been ridiculously busy with university (graduating in July)and haven't been able to play guitar as much as I would like but I still manage to noodle around every day. I have been attempting to try and learn songs that I know parts of but dont know fully. I've been playing 11 years and can't play a full song so I wanted to change that but I am finding that what should be fairly easy like a sweep arpeggio trips me up and it's really frustrating.

    I feel that this is more of a matter of ability compared to the length of time playing scenario but I honestly don't know how to go about practicing stuff slowly without feeling like im just really shit haha. My technique hasn't always been 100% great but I admit it's a hell of a lot better than it was but I just look at tabs sometimes and hear how they sound in the song and it's a complete muscle memory fuck despite doing similar techniques hundreds of times.

    Anyone got advice for just not feeling like a complete tool when having to slow stuff down? At the moment (even though I know it's not) it just feels embarrassing the amount I have to slow stuff down to wrap my head around it.


    Stairway to Heaven Tab Studier
    Aug 12, 2022
    I think the biggest problem is your lack of focus and narrowing in on a specific goal. You talk about noodling, reading tabs, not learning songs completely, fucking up a technique, etc. I think you'd do yourself a favor by re-reading over your own question, and seeing how all over the place you are with your practicing.

    For example, I was trying to learn the Aces High solo by Iron Maiden. That was my only focus. I'd do about 15 minutes of warming up, and then I'd practice learning it. Then I'd practice practicing it. Then I'd practice ONLY THE SPOTS I was having trouble with. I do Kiko Loureiro's 1 hour practice routine strategy occasionally, but I really focus in on ONE thing. In two days, I was playing the whole solo at full speed (not entirely perfectly) with only about 3 hours of practice after I learned it.

    There is nothing about being a "tool" about having to slow down. Play slower for longer, and challenge yourself!

    First things first, you need to pick ONE (and I mean that, ONE!!!) goal and focus on that only UNTIL YOU GET IT. Next thing you know, only practicing for 30 minutes a day does what practicing a million things for a million hours can do... but It'll get done in a shorter time.
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    Ryan Reiche

    Stairway to Heaven Tab Studier
    Nov 11, 2019
    I agree with taking goals one by one, but I think your practice should include just a bit more than just practicing one song. It doesn’t work for everyone but I like to warm up, then work on a skill, whether it’s sweeping or tapping or whatever, then I like to get into my song that I’m trying to learn. If it’s slow, then that’s okay just keep upping the bpm once you feel like you mastered the lower one. You’ll never regret slowing down and taking things at your own pace, because once you can play it fast you’ll be far more happy with your technique in terms of hitting the right notes in the right way and muting accordingly. Like Christian said, you gotta learn to walk before you learn to run. You’re not a tool, just not there yet.

    “…Have patience and all will be revealed.” ~ Yoda
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    Dan Shipway

    Slim Shady
  • Nov 11, 2019
    I 100% agree. I think due to there being so much I would like to learn, it's hard to sit down a focus on one thing because I'm so eager to do everything. I also haven't really had a good practice routine, well ever. I haven't been able to devise something that I really feel I'm getting the maximum benefit from/covering the important areas that I would like to improve on. I would honestly love to be able to get tips on building one if anyone has the time to help out! Thanks again for all your support.
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    Apocalyptic Katana

    Free Bird Player
    Nov 11, 2019
    So you're being hard on yourself?

    You have to be able to play twinkle twinkle little star before you can play through the fire and the flames.

    You have to be able to lift 5 kg before 100 kg.

    You have to learn to walk before you can run.

    You have to learn to add, subtract, divide and multiply before doing calculus.

    You have to graduate elementary school before graduating university. ;)

    Everyone has to start from 0 to get to 100.

    Have patience and work consistently on your goals and eventually you'll get there before you know it.

    (Hey, you got to university right?, you can succeed with the guitar)
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    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    100% what @JakAngelescu said above 👌

    In terms of extra tips & things to practice, I could give a bunch of specific Guitar related things, but I feel like there is one solid thing you can practice that will lift everything up to where it needs to be: 'Practice Your Positive Mindset'

    It sounds like a hokey slogan, but it's the single most important thing that enables learning & progress. Think of it like this: Sitting down to practice arpeggios slow is crucial for technical progress - and when you're mentally in that place practicing, you really need to be present enough to problem solve & concentrate on what you're hearing/feeling in your hands to tighten the screws in your playing - but if the critical, negative part of your brain is used to butting in, and telling you that you're a 'tool' for slowing down, then it's like an annoying friend that won't leave you alone to practice in peace 😂

    It's like your own opinion of your playing is directly blocking your progress. You need to take that voice in your head when this happens & tell it politely where it can go 👌 Attempt to replace your judgments with constructive observations: 'that didn't sound right, why? What am I doing wrong here, what can I change to fix it?' Etc. If you let yourself chill enough to do that, you'll find that things will start working & you'll end up feeling better about your playing 😊

    But like Jak said, pick 1 thing and really immerse yourself in it. You will learn so much more & you'll 100% see progress - not immediately - but eventually! And if you're working positively, with yourself instead of against yourself, it'll be a more positive experience all round.

    Hope this long ramble helps in some way!
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    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Kat the metalhead

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Jan 20, 2020
    Ontario Canada
    A good way to stop being so hard on yourself is to make one goal that you want like others have said and really take your time and build up slowly.

    A huge step to succeed is acceptance. You have to accept that some things will take longer to learn or that you may have to learn slower than others and that’s totally ok! We all learn at different paces.

    Another huge step is believing in yourself and keeping a positive mindset keep telling yourself I’m going to accomplish this no matter how long it takes it will happen. Take every minor improvement as one step closer to your goal. if you get frustrated or feel tense take a little break to recollect yourself.

    also a super important thing is to not compare yourself to others! If someone is more advanced than you or learned something you wanted to learn super quick. Don’t let that let you down. Remind your self we all learn at different paces like I mentioned before and learning something quicker doesn’t make you any better than anyone else.
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    New Student
    Nov 11, 2019
    I had a similar struggle the last few years. I had played well over 10 years and i was the same that i never really learned to play a whole song - i never had a reason to because i didn't play in a band or anything and i always got bored and moved on when i had gotten over the most challenging part of learning a song and when it just came to polishing. I never fully learned to play anything basically and it took me a long time to see how this held me back as a musician.

    I've spent a lot of time to work on this now, along with theory and improvisation and just focusing on musicality more than anything else, and it's one of the best things i've done for myself. I get what you mean by feeling like garbage when you slow things down, it was the case for me espsecially in the beginning and noticing how things that i really felt like i should be able to do just didn't work at all, i felt so much embarassment, shame, frustration, anger, and everything in between xD I was technically very advanced but i couldn't translate the most (to me) simple shit into a musical context and it might sound silly but it was honestly a bit of a personal crisis for me to realize this huge gap in my ability lol :D But all those emotions were the exact reason i had avoided it, because i feared to deal with them. I'm still working through it though, but i recently reached a big goal i've had for a while which was to upload a cover of the Paradigm solo to Youtube (linked in my profile btw) and getting past that and getting the feeling of having finished a project is just so empowering and motivates me to continue!

    Maybe you don't really relate to my specific experience, but in any case i think that we're all held back by our emotions sometimes and when that happens you simply got to dive into your fears and let it unfold. Avoidance by trying to logic your way out and finding a solution to get around these feelings is a road to nowhere and a trap that will make you stuck, unfortunately, so just allow yourself to feel like a complete tool for a while and be mindful when those feelings come up and remind yourself that your they don't determine reality. And take baby steps with it at first and don't overexpose yourself to something that is hard for you because if it gets overwhelming you won't be motivated to keep doing it.
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    New Student
    Jul 27, 2023
    I feel that noodling doesn't pair with wanting to learn something in detail. Take a moment in what you want, Noodling isn't going to get you. If you noodle things tend to take more time than what you think. Mostly, this is okay. Taker a breather, then establish practice.
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    Garage band Groupie
    Aug 7, 2023
    I know that I am late to this, but just joined yesterday and going through posts for inspiration and hopefully find a way to inspire someone else. This is something that I have posted on each wall in my practice area. It is also posted on the outside of the door that I walk in. When I feel that I am getting unnecessarily hard on myself, I read this, most of the time I read it out loud to myself. It puts me in the mind space for practice. I hope that this helps you out and helps you put you practice in perspective:

    Advanced Improv Practice Guide Ron Miller, 1991

    Before starting your daily practice routine, read and seriously consider the following:
    1. How fortunate I am that in this life I am one who has been allowed to create beauty with music.
    2. It is my responsibility to create peace, beauty and love with music.

    2. No matter the level of my musical development, how good or bad I think I play, it is only music and I am a beautiful person.
    3. I will not compare myself with my colleagues, if they play beautifully I will enjoy it and be thankful and proud that I am a member of their brotherhood.
    4. There will always be someone more musical abilities than my own as there will be those with less.

    1. To contribute to the world's spiritual growth.
    2. To contribute to my own self-discovery and spiritual growth.
    3. To pay homage to all great musicians, past and present who have added beauty to the world.

    1. to create self-esteem
    2. to be "hip"
    3. to manipulate
    4. to get rich or famous
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