Guitar Blog

Why your busy schedule actually makes you a better guitar player

Dave Tran

Sage Stage Advantage #1: Your Busy Life

Yep. Having a busy life is actually an advantage (to a degree). 

How the heck can having less time to devote to learning guitar help you become better at guitar?

I’ll answer that with an analogy about bodybuilding.

A few days ago a friend of mine who is very seriously into bodybuilding told me something that kinda surprised me:

“Fitness and bodybuilding are actually totally different camps. You’d think they both consist of similar goals (getting fit through working out) but fitness is the only one that’s actually healthy.

(Now, this might be old news to you, so I’m probably just ignorant. But I had thought that any kind of working out was good for you).

He went on to explain that bodybuilders’ primary goal is to build as much muscle as humanly possible–to the detriment of everything else. Including their body’s overall health.

The supplements they take, the exercises they perform, the food they eat–it’s all specifically designed to make them have the hugest muscles imaginable.

But it wreaks havoc on their health. And any bodybuilder will tell you that they know it’s going to come back to haunt them later in life.

That’s the complete opposite of getting fit and healthy through working out.

So here’s how that relates to learning guitar:

Kids that plow headfirst into intensely learning guitar are actually hurting themselves.

Like bodybuilders, they’re “building a lot of muscle” (i.e. getting really good), but also developing a lot of bad habits that are nearly impossible to undo later on down the road. 

Here’s an example:

One of the most common ways younger kids learn to play guitar is by spending a lot of time learning specific songs.

Nothing wrong with that at all. Most people probably start out learning guitar that way.

But there’s a potentially huge problem, which you’ll see in just a sec.

First I’ll give an example of a really complicated fingerpicking song that someone hears and decides they just have to learn.

They’ll learn it by doing 3 different things:

  1. Watching YouTube videos tutorials on how to play the song
  2. Looking up the tabs for the song
  3. Listening to the song repeatedly, trying to match exactly how it’s played

Eventually, they learn the whole song. And even get really good at playing it.

But here’s where the problem comes into play:

Unless they had any specific training on proper fingerpicking technique, they very likely learned to play the song with incorrect finger placement…

...which can make it really difficult down the road when they learn other fingerpicking songs or try to write their own. Because proper technique is really important.

And they’ll probably have to re-learn proper technique, which will be very difficult since they’ve already built up the wrong muscle memory in their fingers.

So I still haven’t answered the question:

How does having less time to devote to learning guitar help you?

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It’s a super simple answer:

Because you’re forced to pace yourself. 

That might seem a little lame and anticlimactic at first, but just stick with me and you’ll see why it’s actually pretty important.

When you have a busy schedule, you have to be more diligent and intentional about slotting out time for you to learn guitar.

Now, let’s be honest for a second. Trying to teach yourself guitar (through Youtube tutorials, tabs, and careful listening) isn’t the fastest way you could learn guitar when you don’t have a lot of time to do so. 

But if you’re looking for a quicker way to learn that makes more efficient use of the time you spend learning, taking a class or online course is the way to go.

Courses (like GuitarZero2Hero Premium) are purpose-built to teach you the most effective, time-efficient way. This is because you learn in a logical order: foundations first (like proper fingerpicking technique), advanced techniques next (which the foundations have prepared you for), and expert stuff last.

And if you’re taking a good quality course from an instructor who knows what they’re talking about, you likely won’t learn any bad habits that would be hard to undo later.

Online guitar courses make it especially easy to pace yourself since they’re usually split up into easy bite-size lessons, which you can take at regular intervals.

By the way, there’s another disadvantage that bodybuilders have that I forgot to mention before:

Their training is extremely specialized. Which means that their only claim to fame is being huge. 

They aren’t very agile. They aren’t very fast. They don’t have a ton of endurance. And (weirdly), they aren’t even as strong as you’d think.

It’s the same with people who get really good at guitar really fast by grinding hard to learn specific songs. 

On the other hand, when you’re forced to pace yourself, you’re more likely to build more well-rounded skills, which you’ll quickly and easily be able to adapt to playing new songs and genres.

What would you rather be able to do: play a few super complicated songs perfectly (but have a hard time learning new stuff), or be able to pick up and play nearly any song very quickly?

The difference is in learning guitar in “the right order” (like you would in a GuitarZero2Hero Premium) where you are quickly taught the skills to be able to figure out the underlying “bones” of pretty much any song out there.

But by only ever learning super technical, specific songs, these “guitar wiz kids” are handicapping their ability to play a much larger variety of music.

But there’s another advantage that those of us in the Sage Stage have over younger guitar learners. 

And it has to do with how you can actually have a greater capacity for satisfaction and fulfillment from your guitar playing, even if you’re not the world’s greatest guitar player...