Philosophies for Learning to Play the Guitar at 60: Don’t Quit

Philosophy #15

Don’t quit. All else being equal, the most important factor in any type of skill acquisition is simply showing up ready to work hard and learn. Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team. And was spurred to develop a work ethic that had him first to arrive and last to leave practice. Jack London vowed to write at least 1,000 words a day. Legend has it that his early work was rejected hundreds of times. He kept writing. By all accounts, Roberto Clemente always excelled at baseball. And by all accounts, he was among the hardest-working players in the game. We wouldn’t know his name if he had quit – at least not as a ball player.

It’s almost impossible to look at where someone is in terms of developing a skill and to then predict how far they’ll go, yet the world has no shortage of put-down artists who act like they have a crystal ball in terms of what other people “can’t do.” Don’t listen to them. And never bet against someone who is in possession of a solid work ethic and optimism.

Longitudinal studies have revealed that there is virtually no correlation between where one begins their musical journey and where one ends up. Young learners who begin with great promise often quit, leaving the field wide open for those who initially showed less promise but who are willing to stick with it. In the end, the path to accomplishment lies not with initial talent, but with a commitment to practice. Along the way you’ll have days when everything falls into place and you play beautifully. Keep practicing. You’ll also hit plateaus and slumps. Keep practicing. 

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