Guitar Smith Online® Blog

A Guitar Vacation



Sometimes the best way to move forward with your guitar studies is to take a break from playing. Why? Playing guitar is as much a mental game as it is physical.

Dang, I’ve got Gremlins!

Little gremlins, known as mental blocks, can creep into your playing without you even knowing it. Pretend for a moment that there is a piece of music that you just can’t get up to tempo, or the clarity is not there. As usual, you go to the tried and true practice of isolating the difficult sections. You take out your metronome (what! you don’t have a metronome?) and focus on getting these parts just right. Yet, no matter how hard you try, it just seems like you are not progressing. A good option would be to move on to another piece of music and return when you feel ready. This works for some occasions, but not always. If this happens, accept that you may have a mental block (gremlins of the mind).

So, what made you want to come to Florida?

Nothing special, my 16th notes just weren’t flowing.

As the title suggests, it may be time to take a vacation. Take a break and avoid playing your guitar for a few days. When you feel mentally ready, come back to the piece you are struggling with and see how you do. I think you will be surprised how well your playing flows the first couple of times.

During your time off, avoid thinking about how you are going to improve. Remember, these are mental blocks and the only way to get past them is to release whatever mental mistakes may be holding you back. Students who have returned from a week’s vacation seem to play better than when they left. This occurs even if they haven’t picked up a guitar for the entire week.

Nice tan Bob, trouble with those 16th notes?


Now, before you go and setup a vacation to Hawaii, consider the option of isolating the hard sections first and using a metronome (what! you haven’t picked up that metronome yet?). If you put forth good effort but your playing still doesn’t improve, then it might be time to take a musical break. This is a good way to reset your thinking, which can lead to quicker improvements.

Check out our other lessons:

Soloing with Chords Part 1

Soloing with Chords Part 2

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