Here are the usual kinds of fears that hold guitar players back and what you must do to overcome them:
Fear Of Playing Guitar In Front Of Others
It is very hard for many guitarists to move beyond their fear of playing in front of others. One moment you could be able to play something easily alone your room and the next you are struggling to play the exact same thing just because other people are watching. Some of the common symptoms of this fear include uncontrollable shakiness, excess sweating or temporary loss of memory. The worst part is, when you fear playing in front of other people, you avoid it at all costs. As a result, you are unable to gain the benefits and musical growth you get from doing things like playing with other musicians, performing in a band or being part of a show in front of a live audience.
To overcome this fear, you must stop believing in the idea that other people (watching you play) are waiting for you to fail so they can 'make fun of you' or criticize you. Fact is, the people watching you play are generally NOT thinking about you at all - they are only thinking about themselves. They are jealous of your musical skills and wish they had the 'guts' to play in front of others, like you. No one will really notice your mistakes unless you point them out yourself.
Rather than worry about the negative things people might say/think about you as you are playing, think of every time you play for others as a chance to improve your performing ability (NOT a one-time only shot to play perfectly). For instance, if you have shaky hands due to nervousness, make it your 'practice' to try to reduce this every time you play for other people by physically tracking your results on a piece of paper. By doing this, you remove the focus from other people and place it on getting better for yourself. As you do this, you will become more and more comfortable with performing over time.
You've now learned how to overcome the fears that prevent many guitarists from taking the next step to become better players. Take advantage of this, by applying what you've learned here to move closer to your ultimate musical goals.
Fear Of Failure
A lot of guitar players assume from the start that they simply don't have what it takes to achieve major musical goals. If you fear that you are unable to learn guitar exactly as you'd like, the following will occur:
You stop pursuing musical goals that you really want and set lower, more 'achievable' goals that you think are more realistic.
You start practicing things that you are already more comfortable with for the majority of your time, instead of working on materials that will force you to become a great player.
Because you only set 'realistic' (small) musical goals, you will never become the great guitar player you COULD become. You'll form a habit of giving up whenever something becomes difficult because you think you just 'don't have what it takes'.
The worst part is, you'll end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy because you spend so much time focusing on 'failure' rather than the things you actually want to achieve. To make sure you do not become overwhelmed with a fear of failure, do the following:
Think only about the things you 'want' to achieve in your guitar playing at all times. Know that you will always come across challenges while trying to accomplish big goals. Also, all obstacles can be surpassed. If you've been having a hard time playing something, it's not that you lack musical ability - you just need to take a different approach. Alter your approach and get a new outcome.
Determine your exact guitar playing/musical goals, and put together a plan to reach them in as little time as possible. Once you've done this, don't give up until you've reached the very end and achieved every last goal.
It is much easier to overcome your fear of failure when you take lessons with a top tier guitar teacher who understands what it takes to accomplish any musical goal you may have. Over the past 25 years I've helped thousands of students achieve very big musical goals (who were afraid of failure at first). I invested ample time into mentoring them in order to raise their self-confidence and get them to truly believe in their own potential.
Fear Of Being Too Old To Become A Great Guitarist
A lot of guitar players contact me on a yearly basis to ask me if they are too old to get good at guitar. Generally speaking, these people are under the false assumption that they can't become great guitarists because their favorite guitarists were much better than they are at a much younger age. This causes the student to 'lose hope' and give up on doing the things that would take his/her playing to a higher level.
This is what I tell them every time (and what I am telling YOU right now):
Age is just a concept. Guitar players do not fail because they are younger/older than another guitarist. You only fail when you give up on doing whatever is required to achieve your musical goals. Instead of creating a made-up barrier for yourself called 'age', focus your mind on learning the skills needed to achieve your guitar playing goals, use effective practice methods to apply them and make consistent time in your day to practice guitar. By correctly practicing the skills needed to reach your goals, you WILL learn to play whatever you desire (regardless of your age).
I've taught a lot of students who thought they were 'too old' to become great guitar players, and without exception, whoever believed what I wrote above made INFINITELY faster progress toward their goals than those who did not.
Fear Of Criticism
A lot of guitar players fear having their guitar playing criticized and will do anything they can to avoid situations where others could judge their skills (causing them to 'feel bad' about their playing). They will do this even if it means sabotaging their own progress or missing opportunities to get useful feedback! That's right: people will sabotage their own potential to become better guitarists because they are afraid of what other people might say!
Here is an example that perfectly illustrates how this fear holds guitar players back: Each year I hold powerful guitar training events where guitar players fly across the world to train with me for many hours per day, several days straight. This results in MASSIVE improvement in all areas of their guitar playing. However, each time I hold this event, there are also many students who convince themselves not to come because they are afraid of what others would think about their playing (I can clearly see this by reading a flood of emails that these people send me in the weeks/months leading up to the event). By letting their fear of being criticized get the best of them, these students miss a huge opportunity to become vastly better guitar players and continue to suffer the confidence of giving in to their fear, rather than facing it head on.
Even for guitarists who are very advanced players, this type of fear can hold them back from achieving their musical goals. For example, great players will often delay writing and recording an album (for many years) by chasing 'perfection'. This is caused by the fear that someone might criticize their music/playing. As a result, they never experience the significant growth one receives from this type of musical activity.
To overcome this fear, do the following:
Know that the greatest way to become a better musician is putting yourself into situations where you are challenged to grow and improve. This is what the best players do on a consistent basis.
Understand that perfection is something worth reaching for, but not something you can ever actually 'reach'. It's important to make mistakes in order to grow as a musician. Instead of avoiding mistakes, embrace them and utilize them as opportunities for learning how to get better.
Get a clear understanding of what areas in your playing you need to work on in order to improve.
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and virtuoso guitar player. He teaches guitar players from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. Visit his website tomhess.net to get access to free guitar playing resources, read more guitar playing articlesand take a guitar playing mini course.