11 Things My First Year Playing Guitar Taught Me

11 Things My First Year Playing Guitar Taught Me

After celebrating my first year anniversary with my guitar it’s time to look back on some awesome adventures and lessons learned.

Lesson 1: it’s ok to suck after playing guitar for one year

Yes. That’s right. Sure looks fun and easy whenever [insert name of your favourite guitarist here] does it, huh? No worries. There’s a lot of fun in learning to play guitar, but you might have to change your views on learning to play guitar a little bit.

You’ll struggle with learning the chords and making those chord progressions. That’s ok. You’ll learn. I remember coming in for my weekly guitar lesson somewhere last December and being a little worried about my own progress, so the question needed to simply be asked: “You think it’s going ok?” There’s a lot of B.S. out there, such as websites promising you’ll be playing guitar in three months. Turns out it’s ok to suck after playing guitar for one year. Cut yourself some slack and don’t let the B.S. out there kill the fun.

Lesson 2: you’ll get frustrated

You’ll get frustrated. That’s ok. I’m just gonna leave this here…

Hendrix quote

Lesson 3: I have patience!

On the phone with a friend: “I don’t have patience!” “You do have patience. You’re playing guitar and it’s not like you didn’t put in time, effort and patience there…” Wait. What?! YES! I have patience!

Lesson 4: there’s a difference between practicing and playing

That seems like stating the obvious, but what is guitar practice supposed to look like? There’s no one size fits everybody answer to that question. That’s something you’ll have to figure out. Playing is a more fun way to practice, so don’t be afraid to find your own perfect guitar practice routine. I like to start playing some songs and riffs before moving on to whatever is on the practice schedule.

Playing something you know how to play is fun and when you’re a rookie, technically it’s still practicing and training your muscle memory.

Lesson 5: there’s not ONE way to play a song

There’s not one way to play a song. Sure, the song was played EXACTLY like that. That doesn’t mean you have to play the song the exact same way. There have been countless times my guitar teacher has made some small changes, that made a song rookie-proof. That’s ok. The first song I have learned to play guitar was Foo Fighters – Times Like These (acoustic). That’s not a beginner song, so my guitar teacher made a few changes. That worked out great. You don’t have to play a song exactly like the original.

Lesson 6: focusing on one song is impossible

I have discovered it’s impossible to focus on one song. Or on playing one guitar for that matter. There’s times where I’ll find myself stuck somewhere in the process of learning something and that’s when it’s good to have something else to work on. You’ll stumble across Poison – Talk Dirty To Me and Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here on the same coffee table at the same time. I know it’s gonna take me a while to learn something new and switching to a different song for a while doesn’t equal giving up. There’s no use in frustrating yourself.

Lesson 7: you don’t have to start with a Classical guitar

Poor sales guy in the guitar shop! There was no way that Fender steel string wasn’t gonna go home with me. Forget about the ‘rules’. There’s no use in walking out with a guitar you don’t love. You’re not gonna feel motivated to practice when you don’t love your guitar and the sound of your guitar. Pick your own perfect beginner guitar. You don’t need a high end guitar, but you need a guitar you can fall in love with.

Lesson 8: I’m not a morning person, but…

I’m not a morning person, but waking up extra early to have 15 minutes to play guitar before starting my two hours journey to work has proven to be no problem. I have been frustrated with the lack of time to play guitar, but it’s better to squeeze in a few minutes every day and catch up quality guitar time on the weekends. You’ll thank yourself later for those quick practices squeezed into your busy schedule.

Lesson 9: guitar lessons are awesome!

The internet has some awesome resources on learning to play guitar, but it’s not the same as guitar lessons. You might need someone to make a few changes to a song and adjust it to your level, or simply someone to remind you it’s ok to be learning something. Other times my guitar teacher comes up with awesome songs to learn to play on guitar. Yes. Guitar lessons are awesome.

Lesson 10: sometimes you need to look back on your progress

Learning to play Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King… That one sure didn’t come easy! Looking back on it… That was awesome! Sometimes you need to look back on the progress you have made to see it. That’s exactly what happened when writing a blog about it. Feelin’ stuck? Look back on your progress and celebrate each and every step.

Lesson 11: learning to play guitar is fun!

Learning to play guitar is FUN! There’s no deadlines and no other goals to chase but your own.

Rock on!

Angelique Bemelmans

Written by Angelique Bemelmans

Guest Contributor

Angelique Bemelmans is a freelance marketeer/copywriter. Rockin’ marketing communications during office hours, rockin’ a guitar (or two) after work.

You can read more of Angelique’s work on her blog: aboutagirlandaguitar.com

2 replies
  1. Josh
    Josh says:

    Nice article Angelique,

    One of the first things I teach my students is “patience is key”. I’ve always felt that playing a guitar can be taught in a day. But takes a lifetime to master (unless you’re Santana).

  2. Robbie
    Robbie says:

    November will be one year for me. I am 46 and have wanted to play guitar since I was a teenager. I finally made the commitment. This past year has went from downright depression to euphoria. The reality is somewhere in between. I made progress and I’m a better person for it. But I’m no where close to where I want to be.


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