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How to learn to play the Guitar in less than 3 months

Following is a step by step break down of “How I went from not knowing how to hold a guitar to playing it at a friend’s wedding in less than 3 months”. I have tried to break it down in the steps mentioned in "The formula for habit transformation".

My First Guitar

1. Define what you have to lose:

a) Social/ Public Commitment: I declared to almost everyone I met that I will play the guitar at my friend’s wedding. So I if I did not live up to this commitment my reputation was at stake.

b) Opportunity: I really wanted to do something for this friend’s wedding. If I did not make it special- I would have regretted it in my heart.

c) I couldn’t afford it to not be good on the day. Can you imagine what that would have looked like? I don’t want to.

2. Define what you will gain:

a) The ability to play the guitar: This was a lifelong dream. I know for sure – that when/ if I was 70 years of age and looked back on my life – I would have regretted never playing the guitar. It was a regret I was not ready to have in my life.

b) My love of music: This newfound ability would truly augment my love for music. And it indeed is one of the closest things I know to mental ecstasy. It is scary to look back and think what if I never did it!

3. Define the ritual: Every night after dinner – I would sit with my guitar. It’s like – in the morning you get up and brush your teeth? At night after dinner – I practice my guitar. That’s it. Everyday- I don’t think "if I should brush my teeth today or not". Similarly everyday – I don’t think "if should I play the guitar today or not" I just pick it up and do it.

4. Obtain the resources:

a) The Time: Minimum 10 minutes everyday (Tweak as per availability).

b) Money: You need a guitar. Get one. Preferably a cheap one. Or may be borrow from a friend?

5. Clear out the misconceptions e.g.:

a) You need to be able to read music- Nope (I still can’t).

b) You need musical talent – Nope. You need the same amount of talent as walking. Some are able to do it sooner than others- so what? You can do it if you want to do it.

c) You need to take lessons- Nope. Most teachers are dis-incentivised to teach you as much as possible as soon as possible (as they get paid per hour- so the longer they take the more money they make). The basic theory takes less than 15 min for a beginner. That’s it.

d) It takes more than 6 months for your fingers to start getting used to the fret board- Incorrect. Not if you practice every single day.

6. Get the good knowledge:

a) You do need some basic info about chords. I have a friend who shared this with me in 15 min. It is good if it can be a person- but it doesn’t have to be.

E.g. start by learning what is:

Just by mastering these you can play an entire song!!!!

b) Practice with a metronome (you can download an app for this on your phone- it is a simple software that makes clicking sounds at a set frequency to help you improve your timing).

7. Define the goal:

a) I was going to learn 1 specific song. That’s it.

b) I knew the date I was going to play it on- my friend’s wedding day – and it wasn’t going to move.

c) I spoke to a friend who could play the guitar. He confirmed it was an easy song and the target was realistic as long as I worked on it in a disciplined manner.

8. Train the unconscious mind: I must admit I did this mostly unconsciously as I imagined myself playing at my friend's wedding during the days before his wedding. This largely arose from the fact that it was a very important occasion for me for multiple reasons and as humans we generally tend to think about whatever is important to us! Also- I certainly think that there is some level of mind muscle coordination that is aided by this purely mental exercise.

9. Get feedback: I played in front of multiple smaller groups of people before the big day. This helped in 2 ways:

a) It gave me the confidence to play in front of others.

b) It helped me get feedback on my mistakes, which helped me improve.



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