The following article was adapted from “Top 10 Barriers to Success with Guitar” written by Chad Crawford owner of the Palmetto Music Institute. Chad is an amazing guitar teacher that I have gotten to know personally who teaches in Greenville in South Carolina


#1 – Improper physical technique.

Improper physical technique can be a major barrier to progress and success in any instrument whether it be guitar, piano, singing, violin, etc. Many instrument require fine motor control that most do not meet in their every day lives. Just because you are a great typer does not make you a great guitarist or piano player. Tension plays a major part in interfering with proper technique across all instruments. Chad says, “improper technique will make the job much harder than it has to be, and will ultimately impose a needless upper limit on peak performance.”

#2 Ineffective practice routine.

Chad is spot on there. Certain types of practice can yield minimal results ever if you practice for an hour. If you are practicing well, you can achieve more in 15 minutes than you could in an hour of bad practice. “An effective practice routine involves a goal oriented approach to efficiently covering multiple areas that are relevant your playing goals.” Goals are so important and is why I tell students, if you can only focus on one thing at a time, that’s fine. Set a goal for that session and achieve it. You will have accomplished more than most who practice their instrument playing the things they can do well or the parts of songs they know.

#3 Lack of a clear plan.

“Myrtle Beach is a popular vacation spot around here. Imagine setting out to Myrtle Beach with this plan: just start driving, and select turns based on hunches, tips from your passengers, and directions from equally lost drivers, until you arrive at Myrtle Beach. You might get there eventually, but even if you don’t get there, you will be closer than when you started. Right? Maybe. Maybe not. Most likely, you will give up before getting there”

So true. No matter what instrument you are learning, you need a good game plan to progress from one level to the next. Learning things online in bits and pieces and haphazardly will only get you so far. Having an experienced teacher that has a plan for you will help you reach your goals so much quicker.

#4 Isolation.

“Human nature is such that we tend to better bear burdens and savor victories when we share them with others. If you want to get the most out of your musical endeavors, it is critical to include a social aspect to your experience. Cultivate relationships with others who share your interest in music.”

LB Music School firmly believes that musicians need to interact with others. This is why we offer a number of classes and workshops for students to experience music with others. Ask any musician and they will tell you that they learned the most by playing music with others.

#5 Trying To Teach Yourself.

When you teach yourself, you will only get so far before you plateau. Getting instruction from an  experienced teacher can save you not only money, but a lot of time. And let’s face it. Time IS money. When you hire a teacher, you are paying for a result.

There is no question that working with a professional helps you get the result you want quicker. If you want to learn an instrument, do yourself a favor and hire a teacher. I made the mistake of teaching myself and it took me a decade longer than it should have to learn to play. Don’t do that to yourself.

#6 Not following the instruction.

“Whether the instructions come from a web site, videos series, or one on one lessons, I have observed that many (probably the majority) of students at the hobbyist level handicap themselves by not fully following the teacher’s recommendations. Rather, what people will do is try to pick out the easiest or most satisfying parts of the material and concentrate on those things to the neglect of others.”

This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves as a teacher. When a student tells me how I should teach them. I promise, if you do what I say, when I say to do it, you will be successful with learning how to play the guitar. I have no doubts in my ability to get that result for students. That is why you are paying money in the first place, to listen to the teacher’s recommendations, even if you don’t like them. That’s part of a teacher’s job, to mentor you through the more challenging aspects of your playing or singing that will make you better.

#7 Confusing temporary barriers with “lack of talent”

“One of the great myths surrounding music is that you need a large measure of “natural talent” to be a good musician.” Hard work will trump talent every single time. I have no natural talent. No one in my family even plays and instrument. I have absolutely no natural talent for guitar or singing. I put years of time and dedication into it.

Yes, I hit plateaus on the way and I 100% guarantee that you will hit them too. That doesn’t mean you are the worst student in the world, it just means you still have further to go.

#8 Half-hearted commitment.

All battles are first won or lost in the mind. Learning an instrument takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s much like learning an entirely new language. You have to be committed to learning to see the results and see success. Anyone who wants to be good at anything in life whether it be music or not, has to have dedication and commitment to mastering their craft.

#9 Trying to bypass the basics.

“I’m not a huge sports fan, but I believe I am correct in attributing to renowned football coach Bear Bryant the idea that having his players master the basics was the key to his long enduring success.” The same thing applies to music. There is no need to advance your playing or singing skills any faster than they should. Most students want to get to the hard stuff but skip over becoming great at the basics which causes them to plateau later in their playing or singing. A beginner with solid basics will always out play or sing the “advanced” musician who skipped over step 1-3.

#10 Aversion to music theory.

“I can’t count the number of times I have heard the logical contradiction, “I don’t want to waste my time learning music theory. I just want to learn to play guitar”. That is equivalent to saying, “I want to be a football player, but I’m not interested in any running”. The old adage became an old adage because it is true: Knowledge is Power. Knowledge of music theory gives one the power to know how to achieve a desired effect before striking a note on the fretboard.”

As a songwriter, I became a much better writer once I learned music theory. Is gave you the how and why and should you the possibilities. While you may not need to get into super advanced music theory concepts, understanding music theory is a very important part of learning and understanding music and will make you a better musician overall.

Thank you again to Chad Crawford of Greenville Guitar Lessons and the Palmetto Music Institute for letting me adapt his article for this website.