by Jeff Scheetz, TrueFire’s Director of Education

Here is the scenario: A student has learned a few chords and is trying to put them in a song, but they keep stopping every few beats because the chord isn’t ringing out just right, or there is a muffled note, or they are not getting their finger barred all the way across the strings. We’ve all been there before, but beginners sometimes don’t realize that the grass will be greener on the other side, and there are more important things to worry about, like rhythm!

Sometimes it is more important to get some rhythm going and keep the musical flow instead of stressing out over little things that will most likely work themselves out as you get better. What’s more is that many times these “perfectionist” players tend to sound stiff and mechanical instead of groovy and musical. Too much time spent on the mechanics of playing and not enough on the art of it. This usually frustrates the player to the point of wanting to quit because they can’t “get it right.” Relax!

Beginner guitar players tend to think that if they don’t get that one string to quit buzzing now that it will haunt them for the rest of their life! This is not true, of course, and as a guitar player gets better overall, things like strings buzzing and little muffled notes will usually work themselves out naturally as you continue to play and progress.

If you are having trouble with a chord, just work on it and then move on. Of course if you are still sounding that bad on the open C chord in 6 months – then you might need some more guidance 🙂 But you won’t sound that bad. Even when you don’t practice that particular issue, but are working on everything else and getting better overall, it will get better to some degree because your overall touch, feel, technique, rhythm and general musical sense is getting better.

Now before you all get up to do the happy dance – this doesn’t exactly mean you shouldn’t practice or don’t need to in order to get better. Sorry. The point here is that beginners should not feel discouraged nor should they waste too much time if one or a few little things are not perfect — continue practicing other things and trying to improve your playing overall. The difficult things will soon become a lot easier!

So the moral of the story is this – if you are just starting out, don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep playing and pushing yourself to move forward. I always tell students, “don’t think about what you sound like today, but rather think about what you will sound like in 6 months if you keep practicing.” So hang in there and don’t let your perfectionism kill your progress!

Feeling motivated now? Check out TrueFire’s beginner guitar courses.

Been there or have advice for those who have? Share your thoughts in the comments!