I’ve been teaching people how to play guitar for over 35 years. One of the comments I hear over and over is “I don’t have any natural talent for music.” Many people think that music is some sort of special gift that’s given to people and that you can never become a great musician unless you are one of the chosen. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody would ever say that about doctors, lawyers, engineers, or accountants. Learning how to play a musical instrument is like pursuing anything else in life – passion gets you started but perseverance is the key to reaching your goal. I’m sure there are millions of people walking around in society who could become amazing guitar players or even compose their own symphony if they chose to do so. I’m sure I could have become a doctor or a lawyer if that’s what I wanted to do.
Sometimes there are musicians who are so amazing that it seems like they were born to do nothing else, Mozart, Beethoven, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder to name a few. It’s important not to be intimated by these natural wonders, but rather be inspired by them. There are also tons of famous musicians and bands that were just in the right place at the right time, also known as being lucky. Maybe there are some musicians who are truly gifted but how would they ever know they were given this gift unless they opened the box?
The Real Gift
Passion is what drives us to open the box and is the real gift. I can remember listening to The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin and knowing that I had to learn how to play the guitar. The passion I felt for music at a young age is still what’s driving me today to play guitar, write songs, and record my music! Over the years I have taught a few students who could be considered “gifted” but that doesn’t mean that they will stay with it and keep playing the guitar throughout their lives. It’s like being born rich, if you never really had to work hard to make money you may not fully appreciate your wealth and you might become bored with it. The same is true for music, if you practice hard and work towards your goal you’re more likely to enjoy playing the guitar throughout your whole life. I like to call these musicians “lifers”. They keep learning and they keep playing because they have to. There’s a fire burning inside lifers that compels them to keep pursuing music.
Guitar playing is not a competition
There are so many different styles of guitar playing that nobody can ever master all of it. Nobody! You learn at your own pace and eventually find your own style of playing that is uniquely you. I’ve always believed that passion, creativity, imagination, and perseverance will take a student a lot further than simply being gifted or naturally talented. Remember to enjoy the journey and to look back once in a while to see how far you’ve come!
I hope this inspires you in your quest to learn how to play the guitar!
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