Read Time 3 Minutes
A Few Tricks to Revive the Romance
Ever go through spells where your guitar’s job description seems to change from “melody maker” to “dust collector?”
These spells aren’t planned, of course. They come and go naturally over time as you become more or less fascinated with the instrument. It’s normal to have days, weeks, or even months where you just don’t find yourself wrapping your arms around your faithful guitar as often as you used to.
Having gone through quite a few of these cool-off phases myself, I’ve discovered a few tricks that never fail to revive the romance. Want to fall in love with those six strings all over again? Give these a try.
1. Listen to Music
We’re all busier than ever; we’re all stretched thin. When’s the last time you took fifteen or twenty minutes to just sit and listen to some of your favorite music?
Here’s a fun thing to do once in a while: go back and revisit the first few songs that you learned on guitar. I’m talking the first few songs that you ever learned–what tunes did you spend hours plunking away at in your bedroom?
Equally inspiring idea: go grab an earful of music that’s entirely new to you.
Either way, listening is almost a lost art these days. It’s sure to spark something in you if you take a few minutes out of your life to just let some music wash over you.
2. Watch a Performance or Interview With an Accomplished Guitarist
What could be more inspiring than watching a master guitarist in action and hearing them talk about the craft?
When you watch a performance instead of just listening, you can actually see the motions and techniques the guitarist is using. Find a guitarist who really makes you think, “Whoa! Cool; I want to do that!”
It’s all about letting the passion of great players infect you.
3. Get Out More
There’s almost definitely an open mic or an open jam somewhere near you. If not, you can start your own.
Even if you’re the shy, “living room guitarist” type, and even if you’re new to the guitar, you stand to gain a lot by going out and connecting with fellow musicians…maybe even some new collaborators.
Realizing that you can actually be part of a musical community, reach audiences, and get applause is a thrill that you’ve got to experience. Performance of any kind is a shot of adrenaline that you’ll never get by just practicing alone in a room. Snap your guitar into its case, lace up your shoes, and put yourself out there.
4. Go Shopping
Find an excuse to wander into a music shop or browse an online store. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy anything–I’ve spent hours gazing lecherously at high-res photos of delicious handcrafted guitars, listening to absurdly long Youtube demonstrations of all 147 different cowbell sounds available on a guitar synth, or checking out some bizarrely cool relics from yesteryear.
Even some new picks, patch cables, or a set of strings can be enough to prod you into playing a bit more than you ordinarily would.
5. Learn Something New
I saved the best for last. This by far is my favorite way to keep this romance with the guitar smoldering.
What’ve you learned lately? Taking a few minutes to learn a new technique–or hone an existing technique–is deeply satisfying, yet leaves you craving more. It gets you invested in this instrument again.
Nearly all of the best guitarists I know still have guitar teachers after years of playing, by the way, so consider booking a little time with a solid teacher in your area. A good teacher will spur you on, shake you up, hold you accountable, and give you some cool new stuff to work on.
Having a reason to play, having something to look forward to… that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Tonight, when you go home, blow the dust off that curvaceous beauty you call a guitar and see what happens.
Good article — and all true. Two other things that work well for me: (1) Buy a new guitar. I’ve been years without getting a new axe, and got one last week. It’s been mighty noisy around here, ever since. (2) Accept a gig that’s just a little over your head. There’s nothing like having a little gun to my head to help me dig in and practice. And when I do that, I’m reminded of why I love playing. The challenge, the fulfillment — the entire relationship — makes me a happy boy.