Know basic Psychology

Practice creates masters! But how do we manage to take our daily dose of practice? I have students who dutifully pack their guitar in the case and then hide it in the closet or under the bed.

And then ask yourself why they didn’t come back to practice that week. Quite simply: out of sight, out of mind.

Make it obvious – Generate attention for our goals

You can remedy this by setting up your guitar on a guitar stand in the living room / study.

It looks like a fruit bowl on the table, you just grab it when you walk past.

This is also called “Environment Design”

Avoid distractions

Telephone, cell phone, internet, especially Facebook with its many games keep you from reaching your goal – learning to play an instrument – get closer by eating up your time. Do as Peter Lustig recommends: Just switch off 🙂

Plan fixed times

Humans are creatures of habits. Playing the guitar must become as natural as brushing your teeth.

Make it a ritual to strum five minutes right after you get up or five minutes before you go to bed.

That brings more than the resolution to spend two hours with the instrument once a week.

Hopefully you don’t brush your teeth just once a week, do you?

Talisman principle

Beginners in particular feel unsettled by the endless variety of the material to be learned, there are so many decisions to be made: Which chords do I have to learn? Guitar pick or fingerstyle?

Which songs and riffs should I know by heart? Above all: what should I learn and when?

Since learning is not a linear process, every learner has different motivations and every brain also works differently (prior knowledge, divergent / convergent, intro / extroverted), most of these questions can only be answered with gut feeling.

One technique that helps against the feeling of being lost is the talisman principle.

What is it exactly?

The musical talisman is what the rosary is to the good Catholic: something that I keep coming back to, that I have mastered inside out and that helps me through difficult hours. For me it was the A minor pentatonic in the fifth position for years. There are several things now, mostly self-written riffs and solos. I start every study / practice / creative session with one of these talismans. It’s like a hiking trail that I’ve walked 100 times and from which I break new ground. My safe home port, so to speak. He is always at the beginning of a journey and I return to him every time a storm of uncertainty approaches.

Choose wisely

It is important to choose a talisman in such a way that it does justice to your own level of development, i.e. you have mastered it well. It should be tightened from time to time so that awareness of the level of learning achieved develops. When I am creative, I build myself new fragments that resemble my talisman and can use other creative techniques such as the head-tail method (to come!) To assemble them into more complex structures. When learning new pieces, I first look for the parts that resemble my talisman (e.g. in a solo the part that uses the minor pentatonic scale) and perfect the parts independently of the rest.

You can compare that to translating a text. I don’t start at the first word and look up the meaning, but first look for words that I already know. This will reduce your uncertainty and increase your motivation to tackle the learning project.


There is already something in every new piece that you can already do. Look out for it!

Electronic helpers

Apps can also help you learn habits. One of my favorite apps is It lets you set goals such as “play guitar six days a week”.

Then you can be reminded of it daily and then, when you have practiced, tick off.So you can keep track of whether you have achieved your weekly goals.