“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

Can you think of anyone better than Johnny Cash to speak words that resonate so well with what it takes to learn guitar? For all the pleasure derived from learning and playing the guitar, it sure can be a difficult and lonely process that, at times seems to have no upside. You can’t seem to get the rhythm of a song the way you hear it on the record … You can’t play that lead guitar riff anywhere near to how your favorite guitarist plays it … The strumming pattern you’re learning is the same boring pattern that you’re having difficulty with in three other songs you’re attempting to play!


The number of obstacles that can arise in learning how to play the guitar can be overwhelming, and seemingly endless, very often, without any sign of compensatory reward. For example, you might struggle with the fingering of a guitar chord, trying to get all your fingers down on the strings before the place and time where the chord belongs in the progression is gone, the song is on to the next chord, and you’re left fumbling for the chord that never quite seems to materialize. You try over and over again in an attempt to master the progression and the song, seemingly making no progress at all – in fact, at times, clearly going backwards – and it feels like you’ll never fulfill your dream of learning to play guitar the way you have in your fantasies, the way the guy in the band you saw at the school dance played, the way you imagine will attract the girls to your side at a party …

“What’s the use?” you say to yourself. “I’ll never be any good and this is way too much work that nobody will ever see. There’s nothing in it for me.” Then one day, for one brief pass, on that same chord progression you’ve been struggling with, you hit upon success. It feels so fluid and effortless. And, you’ve broken through to the other side. The feeling is spiritual and transformational. This is why you’ve been working so hard. This is why the effort is so worth it! It’s hard to explain the feeling or the revelation, but you know you’ve hit upon the force within yourself that you’ve been seeking – that has caused you to pick up the guitar in the first place – and you understand just what Johnny Cash was talking about. To get to this moment faster, we see more and more students interested in guitar lessons especially in the beginner stage. Hopefully, you file it away for future reference when you hit upon similar snags in the upcoming pathway of continuing to learn guitar. Keep playing! Keep strumming! Keep picking! There are countless similar moments awaiting you – moments that add up to a complete whole of unlimited music and pleasure. And you’ve hit upon the formula that will propel you to keep on playing guitar – as long as you live and breathe. Is there anything better to live for?

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