Imagine yourself quitting guitar. Giving up on trying to get better. Eventually not playing again. You probably think this would be a decision you’d give a lot of thought to before making.
Perhaps you think it’s a decision you’d never make yourself. You’re serious about learning to play or being the best player that you can be, right?
That’s what everyone thinks they think, but hundreds of students all over the world quit guitar every day without giving it a second’s thought.
People do it all the time
You see, potential guitar players don’t go out with a bang. They go out with a tiny apologetic whimper.
Let me explain. When they’re about to put down their guitar down to gather dust forever, people don’t say:
“Hey, you know I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I have other things I’d rather do with my time than music and guitar, so I’m going to stop playing.”
That’s not how it goes.
No. Here is what people actually say to themselves when they’re about to give up on themselves and quit guitar:
“I’m going to take a break…”
“Taking a break”, from what?
From lessons, from playing in a group, or just from practicing and trying to get better. “Taking a break” from some or all the activities which have been moving you forward.
Let’s run this statement through the reality translator:
“I’m going to stagnate, then regress, and then – if I continue like this – I’ll realise at some point in the future it’s been years since I played, and I basically don’t play anymore.”
Now, I’m only writing about this because I want you to succeed, and because this is something that happens to a lot of people.
In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of good players I have seen go down this road. They thought they could just take an open-ended break without any consequences, and they couldn’t be more wrong.
There’s really no such thing as “just taking a break”
Because there’s no such thing as freezing things where they are now, letting things go, and then just being able to just pick back up at this point in the future.
You can only go forwards or backwards, and trying to pause and stand still means doing nothing, and that means sliding backwards.
If you have something that’s taking your time away from guitar, then the key is to think about how to keep practicing, playing and moving forward as much as possible, even if you can’t do as much as before.
People often have an all-or-nothing attitude to goals. If they can’t do everything, or if they fall off the wagon and miss a few weeks or months, then they’ll just give up and stop. This kind of attitude is unrealistic and it gets people nowhere.
Making progress and moving forward (even if at a slower pace for a while) is still much better than not moving at all, and then going rapidly backward.
If you really need to take a total break for a time for specific reason, then the key is to plan on getting back to it as soon as you can. Actually schedule your return to guitar, because if you don’t, then you’re just stopping.
Taking a break ≈ Stopping
Most of the time what people actually mean by “taking a break” really just means stopping, with a vague idea to return at some time in the future.
That’s when there’s a very real risk that “some time” never comes and that the break becomes permanent, or lasts so long that you lose years or even decades of playing.
And this is exactly how most people quit playing guitar — not dramatically and all at once, but sliding out quietly over the course of months and years, and almost as if by accident.
They take a break for something and then they’re never heard from again, and you hear a few years later that they barely ever pick up their guitar any more.
The thing that really sucks about this is that most of the time the reason for taking the original break from guitar is something temporary or at least time-limited. It’s something at work or at home that’s throwing things up in the air for a while before they would settle back down again.
It really sucks to see when something that would pass entirely or at least lessen within a few months, leads to years of not playing, and, all too often, giving up altogether.
I know what you’re probably thinking right now:
“Not me – I’d never do that”
“And if I did take a break, I wouldn’t stop entirely...”
Everyone who has stopped playing told themselves the same things.
It’s already happened thousands of times before to people just like you… people who now used to play guitar.
It’s happened to players of every age and almost every level of experience.
I know so many people who stopped playing guitar. Guess how many of them said they intended to stop? 0. Guess how many of them started by taking a break? 100%.
This is how everyone quits guitar.
So don’t let it happen to you too!
And if it already has… then what are you waiting for?
Get back to it!
It’s never too late 🙂