Learning Classical Guitar And The Mental Approach You Need For Success

I was reading an article on LinkedIn recently that resonated quite strongly with me and reflects my own thoughts around succeeding/ acquiring of skill (something that I’ve discussed with former students of mine too).

Those thoughts are that skills, and particularly skills such as learning and playing the classical guitar, are very much influenced by your mindset and approach to learning. I personally believe that old adage that you achieve pretty much anything if you set your mind to it.

Do You Have A Fixed Mindset or A Growth Mindset?

Folks with a “fixed mindset” (who might say things like “I am a musical person” or “I am not a musical person” or “I have always found this difficult and will continue to do so”), those that think that talent, brains, intelligence, natural gifts, call it what you will, are the answer to learning to play classical guitar (for example), can be their own worst enemy! Folks with a fixed mindset, thinking perhaps that they’re not good at something, like it’s something that’s set in stone, and the ones more likely to give in or give up at the first sign of challenge and difficulty.

Do you have this kind of mindset when learning a new piece? When developing an element of your technique? That’s preventing you from picking up the guitar even?

I seriously believe that a “growth’ mindset is vital when learning the guitar and progressing on the instrument (as it is with any instrument or skill). A growth mindset is acknowledging and appreciating that you’re probably not going to be that flash at something the first time you try it and possibly even for quite a while thereafter. A growth mindset acknowledges, however, that changes and improvements do occur over time – they may be large or they may be incremental, but undoubtedly they will occur. They don’t occur of their own accord though.

I’ve said this many times to past students, and I’ve said similar things many times previously on this blog too – the key to achieving mastery of the classical guitar (or at least getting a reasonable way into that journey) is focussed effort. Yes, talent can help, but it’s really the efforts that you put in, and the knowledge that you’ll improve, change and develop over time as a result of those efforts, that will set you on the path for success on the classical guitar.

For me when I first picked up the classical guitar I came to it with a background playing piano and clarinet, and having trained in classical dance for nearly 10 years. I was immersed in a musical world from a young age, so my “talent” (which was really just repetitive and consistent training and immersion over many years from a very young age – although that sounds rather brutal to put it in those terms!) carried me for a time. After the complete hiatus for a few years I had from playing in my late teens and early twenties, picking up the guitar again and wanting to really take things as far as I possibly could with the instrument, that’s where the “growth” attitude really came into its own.

I understood that a great deal of work lay ahead of me and came to enjoy that fact and the journey I was on. And I still do – my journey is still very much continuing. Part of this was also learning to be accepting of my technique at a given point and being in the moment, but knowing that I still needed to push and continue my hard work and focussed efforts to ensure the path ahead of me continued as I wanted. I was playing my path into view, if you like.

So do you have a growth mindset in your approach to learning classical guitar? Do you take technical challenges on? Do you ponder on how you can develop or overcome a particular challenge? Do you feel inspired listening to others? Do you appreciate that, given time and continued effort, you can play pretty much anything your heart desires?! I like to think it’s true 😉

And this is the article I was reading that sparked this blog post: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140609121847-20017018-the-one-mental-approach-you-need-to-succeed

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2 thoughts on “Learning Classical Guitar And The Mental Approach You Need For Success

  1. Inspiring post Nicole! I find it is all to easy to drop back to the “fixed mindset” mode but I definitely agree that the “growth” mode is the way to go for the guitar and in life in general. I just need to remind myself of that periodically!

    1. Thanks Rick! 🙂
      Yes, it can be easy to slip into “fixed” mindset if you’re not careful. Taking time to step back occasionally can help remind you to change gears into “growth” mindset.

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