The Key to Guitar Playing Sucess

Today I want to talk about an angle to the issue of practice that you may not have thought about.
In 1997 Gary McPherson conducted a study to find out why some advance rapidly through music lessons and others become discouraged and quit.
This was a serious, long-term study that followed kids for many years, starting from when they first picked up their instrument at very young ages and then
followed them all the way to high school graduation.

The study examined 157 randomly selected kids, and as you would expect, the musical ability of these students spread in a fairly predictable pattern across
a bell curve.

After extensively analyzing the data to find out why some students leaped forward in progress while others barely made headway, he could not find an answer in all the categories that you would think would provide
the answer.

Was it a physical aptitude having to do with the sense of hearing?


Neither was it a matter of IQ, income level of the students’ family, math or science aptitude, or a sense of musical rhythm.

The answer could be found in one small factor: a simple statement each student had made before they even had their first music lesson on Day 1.

That statement was the answer to a question that each student had been asked in a questionnaire.

And that question was: “How long do you think you’ll  play your new instrument?”

Most kids, of course, gave vague or evasive answers.

But after some prodding, each student was able to come up  with a fairly specific response, based on an intuitive feeling  about whether this activity would be right for them.

Students were sorted into three categories based on their answers: short-term commitment, medium-term commitment, and long-term commitment.

Then McPherson measured how much time each student actually followed through and practiced their chosen instrument.

When he looked at the data, it was undeniable: with the same amount of practice — or even much less —the long-term commitment group outperformed the short-term commitment group by 400 percent.


In other words, a simple decision at the beginning of their training made all the difference in their eventual success.

Now, I don’t know what your intentions are with the guitar.

Maybe you just want to mess around a little bit and while away the time.

And that’s fine, if that’s where you’re at.

But if you are playing guitar with ANY kind of goal in mind, then think about what sort of commitment you could write down that might help you cement that notion into your head.

I’m not saying you need to draw up a contract with yourself and get it notarized.

Maybe just thinking about that question and coming up with your own answer is enough to spur you to better results.

In many ways, a challenging endeavor like guitar is all about mindset. And if you can put this concept of “the clarity of commitment” into your thinking, you just might get there faster.

Keep playing!