Motivating Yourself for Practice

Well, one would like to think that as you, as an adult, have actively chosen to pick up and play the classical guitar that there’s a high level of intrinsic motivation there.

English: Classical Guitar
Photo credit: Wikipedia

What do I mean by intrinsic motivation? I mean that you’re driven by the desire to play the guitar in itself; playing the guitar is something that you really want to do, to improve at, to master. It’s an end in itself.

Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is an outside pressure or force driving you, or indeed forcing you, to be motivated to do something – an exam date looming, parents pushing a child into learning or doing something, monetary or some other kind of reward, being in competition with someone else to achieve something faster or better than they do, someone giving you a big ol’ whack with a stick if you don’t play something correctly! Hah hah! Must remember that one…..only kidding students!

So, yes, it’s probably fairly reasonable to think that most adult students are intrinsically motivated – there’s a real true desire there to learn, play and improve on the classical guitar.

Sometimes though that motivation can do with a little helping hand – and that’s totally fine. Sometimes we’re plugging away at learning a piece, or a particular section of a piece, or a new technical skill and seems to be taking forever, or perhaps more challenging than initially thought. We’re really being tested. Perhaps we’re not practicing as much as we should, could or would like to.

In times like these we need to remind ourselves of the reason why it is that we love the classical guitar and why we decided to pick it up in the first place. We also need to remind ourselves that, yes, sometimes it will be challenging, it will be tough. If it were that easy everyone would be doing it and there would be nothing particularly special about the ability to play classical guitar, at whatever level you’re currently are.

So if your intrinsic motivation is waning a little, you’re thinking “meh, perhaps I don’t have to practice today” remind yourself of why it is that you picked up the guitar in the first instance.

You could also remind yourself of this quote from Aristotle:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Also remember that repetition is the mother of skill. Well, to a point. Please don’t go repeating the same phrase 50 million times over playing the same mistake in the same way! Iron out the issue first and then repeat and embed!

Now go practice!!


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