Not Enough Practice!
Ok I’m just going to go straight there – the most likely scenario for why you’re not improving on the guitar is that you’re not practising enough. We’ve all heard this spiel before, so if you’re finding that you’re constantly having unsuccessful attempts at doing some decent practice on the guitar, it’s probably time to establish a solid practice routine and stick to it. There’s no exact number on how much practice you need to do, but a few times a month, once a week or even a few times a week will often not be enough to see progress. For a student with high goals of playing complicated repertoire or wanting to make it to that next step will most likely have to be putting in daily practice (or very close to this) on the guitar to see results. Think of it like this – are you going to get fit from thinking about going for a run, or by actually going for a run?
Poor Quality Instrument
Now it may not be insufficient practice that is the culprit here. There are several other possibilities to why you have found yourself flatlining in your guitar abilities. One factor that I have seen many times is that the student is playing a poor-quality instrument that isn’t allowing them to progress. This could mean many things: the guitar is cheap and not really aimed at a serious player, the guitar is of decent quality but isn’t setup correctly (the action, the angle of the neck ect.), or that the guitar isn’t appropriate for the style of music that the student is trying to play (a student has a nylon string
classical guitar but is trying to sound like Angus Young). I have seen students play a guitar that falls into one or several of these categories that will hold them back for months, only for them to suddenly improve when they purchase a new instrument or have their old guitar professionally setup. If you’re not sure that this is a problem for you, then perhaps…
…it’s Time To See A Teacher?
My next few points will be other potential problem areas that can be hard for a self taught student to resolve without the help of a professional guitar tutor. Not only will a qualified teacher be able to advise on whether your instrument is appropriate for you, but also any technique issues that may be holding you back. These can be formed over time without even noticing, and will be more difficult to undo the longer you wait before seeing a guitar teacher.
A good guitar teacher will also be able to advise you on what repertoire will be appropriate for you, not only stylistically but in terms of the difficulty level. I often see students trying to dive into material far beyond their current guitar abilities, only to give up with their tail between their legs. Or perhaps they’ve given it a solid crack but now have created their own rushed version with all sorts of messy transitions, creating further issues that will be problematic to undo later down the track. A good teacher will be able to suggest and assign a series of other songs that will lead up to your ultimate goal, which will form solid technique for whatever is required without having to rush through this first.
On the flip side of that coin, I have seen students shy away from more challenging material also, going for pieces too easy that although may be fun to play, isn’t improving their abilities or teaching them any new techniques. A good teacher will assign you songs that will be appropriate to not only your skill level, but your musical interests as well.