I know what you’re thinking. I failed at guitar lessons because I was a teenager — and teenagers frequently can’t commit to something. And although there’s probably some truth to that, it goes a bit deeper and really comes down to my expectations, which can best be summed up at “utterly ridiculous.”
My first year of guitar lessons was with a guy named Jim, who focused on fundamentals. I could already read music. Jim taught me how to hold the guitar, how to strum, how to pluck strings, how to play all the core notes and how to play from sheet music. He also taught me some basic blues improv and several simple chords.
At the end of my first year of guitar, Jim moved to Vancouver. I briefly took lessons from another guy, but he and I didn’t get along well. And so I shifted to my third guitar teacher. Pete was a neo-classical/metal and classical guitarist. A bit of an odd mix, for sure. I was interested in rock/metal guitar, and Pete introduced me to Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and — his personal hero — Yngwie Malmsteen.
When I should have been learning rhythm guitar (in hindsight, of course), I wanted to be the next speed guitarist.
But of course, that takes thousands of hours of practice, and I really didn’t have it in me.
At a time when I should have learned barre chords and improved my strumming patterns, I was trying desperately to plough my way through the opening riffs of “Far Beyond The Sun.” A bad idea in hindsight, but it was what I wanted to learn at the time.
And I failed time and again. The music was far beyond my capabilities, and I didn’t practice regularly enough to gain the skills I needed to become proficient.
That’s why I play guitar about as well today as I did when I was 15 years old.