Playing Guitar Is Like Running Track

Playing Guitar Is Like Running Track

People often ask me how long it takes to learn to play the guitar. I usually tell them, it depends on how good you want to be. Playing guitar is a lot like running track. Seriously. It is somewhat like a marathon, except you never finish. Guitar is a lifelong race.

Actually it is more like the hurdles. When learning to play the guitar you will continue to face new hurdles. The first hurdle beginners encounter is sore fingers. But soon, this passes. The next hurdle is usually playing chords. Who didn’t agonize over the dreaded open F chord when they started out? The next hurdle might be barre chords, or fingerpicking, or vibrato, or bending strings, or playing while you sing.

Many players jump a few hurdles and then start running in place. There is nothing wrong with this if you are happy staying at a certain skill level. But I think the race is much more interesting if you keep attacking new hurdles. You’ll also find that, as you jump more and more hurdles, you will probably be asked to run in more and more races. You’ll no longer be running in the “pack”, and you’ll get to race with some awesome runners. The crowds coming to watch will usually get bigger, and people might even remember your name.

Of course, jumping hurdles requires dedication and training. You have to put forth the effort if you want to clear that next hurdle. Nobody runs in the Olympics a week after they go out for track, and nobody becomes a guitar hero in a week either. You may never make it to the Olympics, or even want to. But you should always strive to improve your guitar playing, no matter how long you have been at it.

So what’s your next hurdle? Reading music? Joining a band? Lead guitar? Jazz chords? Fingerpicking? Slide guitar? Playing live? There is always another hurdle coming up. Don’t stop now. Keep jumping!


Photo by Meredith Bell (cropped)

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