Guitar: Why Do Some Fail to Make Progress?

Why do some fail to make progress?

Yesterday I was going through my very deep email folder trying to find the bottom.  In the process, one message touched me deeply.

“I am a big fan of your courses; I have the complete guitar course and speed skills 1 2 and 3 along with  No Boundaries. I have been practicing guitar for 6 years and I feel a failure, so many years of practice and I still do not improve the techniques. I want to tell you (Doug Mark) that I am not blaming your courses. Your courses are wonderful, seriously.

I practice a lot and a lot, I am up to 6 hours or more with the metronome, I follow your instructions and I can’t polish the techniques.

Douglas, could you give me some advice as a musician since I see you as my lifelong teacher. I recognize that this is DVD, but you’re always at home educating me how to play guitar.

How can I achieve more skill or what advice could you give me to do it and apply it in my life?”

I offered the student a free Skype lesson so I could take a look at their playing technique to make an assessment.  However, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m very familiar with this situation.  There’s a very good chance that I already know the solution.

From 1982 to 2011 I received feedback on my lessons first by mail then email and Forum posts.  That was helpful for both me and my students.  Still, it’s not like watching a student play and evaluating skills firsthand.  Around 2012 I began giving Skype lessons.  For the first time I was able to watch and evaluate student challenges.

Here’s what I found.  Students were moving too quickly through the material.  They would eventually get to Stage Four not having built the foundation to master the lesson’s more challenging exercises.  They were frustrated because they could spend hours practicing with little, if any, results.

If you haven’t taken the time to step-by-step build the necessary skills for high level performance, you will eventually reach the proverbial “brick wall.”  Some are motivated and tenacious enough to keep beating that wall expecting it to break only to be extremely disappointed that they can’t get through no matter how hard they try.

I’ll give you an example of my own personal experience.  When I was in elementary school, I was an average student at best.  That’s probably an insult to a real average student.  Here was my MO.  Let’s say I was studying Algebra.  Well, I didn’t get my first report card for six weeks.  So, I spent the first six weeks screwing off.  Then, when my Dad took a look at my report card… well, corporal punishment was acceptable in the 60s.  At that point I became quite motivated.  Problem is, I missed out on the fundamentals and never made the grade.  Literally.

Another example, I began playing guitar at age 13.  I was not incredible dedicated at that point and basically just messed around until I was 18.  I couldn’t play a barre chord or lead until then.  So, I personally know what it’s like to make no progress and suck for five years.  I eventually found a teacher that taught me the fundamentals that I had been missing.

80% of student videos or audio recordings that I review have much in common.  The playing technique doesn’t sound professional because students haven’t learned to bend notes to pitch, mastered vibrato, or even play hammer-pulls correctly.  There are also serious timing problems.  Those are four fundamentals that if not mastered will never allow you to come close to your true potential.  There are students that can sweep like crazy and play 220 bpm, but they suck at the fundamentals and there playing doesn’t sound pro.  Now I know that’s not you.  Just sayin’.

So, what’s the solution?  If you’re studying my course, review and master the fundamentals.  Have your technique reviewed by a professional.  You must be sure that your fundamentals are solid.  Get them right then prepare to make tremendous progress in a short period of time.

Since I revised my course in 2016, I promised that after each of the four modules there would be an opportunity for me to personally give you accreditation for passing each Level.  I’m going to begin offering 30-minute Skype evaluation / accreditation reviews.  If you’re interested, we’ll find what’s been holding you back.  I promise.

Doug Marks


The author of this article, Doug Marks is the creator of The Complete Rock Guitar Course