One of the biggest obstacles for most guitar players comes from their
own belief that, in order to be a great player, one must possess natural
ability. I've taught many guitar students privately over the years and I
often hear things like:
I usually respond by telling the student that he (or she) will never be a great player
as long as one believes those things. Great players like Yngwie and Vai
didn't just pick up the guitar one day, practice for a little while and then become virtuosos. Both of them had worked extremely hard developing their
awesome skills. Yngwie has been quoted (many times) as saying that he
practiced 8 hours a day between the ages of 13 and 18! If he (and others)
were born with all of this talent then why did they all have to work so hard
to get where they are today?
A great non-musical example of perseverance would be the great
basketball star, Michael Jordan. Jordan wasn't even good enough to make it
on his local high school basketball team! Most people would have given up
after such a disappointment and most would have believed that there would be
no point in trying again next year, since they obviously would assume that
they don't possess the talent. We all know that this was not how Jordan
thought about his situation. He worked extremely hard everyday, practicing and asking the coach to teach him, even though he was not a member of the team. The next year, Michael
made the team and went on to eventually become one of the world's greatest
athletes of all-time.
I've known a few students to believe that they did have natural musical
ability. Unfortunately, I have watched them waste their time waiting for
their 'natural ability' to turn them into great musicians. They showed some
initial progress when they practiced, but depended too much on their talent
to do the rest of the work for them. Usually at this point, they begin to
become lazy and practice less, thinking that they will be great anyway. It
is always hard for a teacher to see students fail because they didn't
persevere when the potential was there.
What does all of this mean for you? It means that you can achieve great
things if you have the passion in your heart for music and if you have the
perseverance to learn and practice each day. It will take a long time, but
it is well worth it. Each of you has basically the same potential as
everyone else to accomplish great things. Don't wait for some natural
abilities to take you where you want to be though. You must believe that
you can do it only if you work hard and long. If you believe in this
concept and believe in yourself... dreams can come true.
Thanks for listening.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.