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5 irrational fears that keep people from learning an instrument

If you have just started playing guitar, or if you are in the process of considering it, you have quite likely encountered one or more of these fears. I had some of these irrational fears myself. If you fear any of what you’ll read below, I have good news for you. What you’re afraid of is either not going to interfere at all in your musical journey, or at worst, is just a minor obstacle that can easily be overcome with the right practice.

  • My hands are too small/big/fat/short.

Jazz musician Django Reinhardt had two fingers missing while Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi lost the tip of two fingers in an accident. Even such huge obstacles didn’t stop these amazing musicians from mastering their instrument and leaving their name in the annals of history. Do you think that having your fingers being short or fat should stop you from not only learning your instrument, but mastering it?

Having hands or fingers that are of a particular shape may be beneficial when playing particular kinds of music, and in general having long fingers helps. But it’s a minor advantage. Learning guitar is much more about your mind sending the right messages to your hands than about the physical ability of your hands themselves.

  • I don’t have natural talent.

No one is born with a natural ability to play. Playing an instrument is learnt. What makes you a good musician is what you practice, how much you practice and how you approach the whole process, not something written in your genes.

Some people are born with a natural ability to learn things much more quickly than others, or have other ‘gifts’, which are the reason we have child prodigies. However, you can rest assured that behind every single unbelievably great eight-year-old guitar player going viral on Youtube there is sheer determination and thousands of hours of practice, no matter how many gifts that kid was born with.

Most successful musicians were not child prodigies. They were common people like you and me who had defined musical goals towards which they dedicated a lot of time and passion.

  • I don’t have a good ear.

Some of us are born with a good ear for music, that is, they find it easy to recognize notes from their sound without having had any training on it beforehand.

Many others, and this includes myself, are less lucky. This not a big deal. Like everything else the ear can be trained. With the right exercises, practiced regularly, those of us who weren’t blessed with a “good ear” can develop an ear as good as anyone else’s.

  • I don’t have time to practice.

Is 10 minutes a day out of reach?

Sure, if you can spend two hours a day practicing you will be able to reach your goals much faster, but with a little practice each day (or most days) you still can become good on a musical instrument. The key word is consistency. That you play regularly, even if for a short time. Hopefully when you’re less busy you’ll increase the time you spend practicing and improve even faster.

  • I’m too old to learn an instrument.

Some ailments associated with getting older may prevent you from learning guitar. For instance, if you have arthritis in your fingers, playing guitar can get painful, and if you suffer from dementia, it’s going to be hard remembering what you learnt!

But unless you suffer from these and similar ailments, age is not and should not be an issue. You’ll be going through the same learning process you would have gone through if you were younger, and may even take better decisions along the way since you’ve acquired more wisdom in life.

I hope that if you’re about to start learning playing guitar and have any of the fears mentioned above, I’ve convinced you that some should just be ignored while others are simply things you haven’t learnt yet!

If you’re still not convinced or have other fears you would like me to address, you can send me an email on bertucallus@gmail.com.


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