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Learning how to play the guitar can be quite difficult. For those afflicted with ADHD, learning the guitar can be an even greater challenge.
However, having ADHD doesn’t have to stop you from learning the guitar. In fact, having ADHD could be a sort of superpower if you understand how to make the condition work for you.
In this article, we will cover a wide range of topics relating to learning the guitar with ADHD, including self-taught methods versus lessons through an online resource like Guitar Tricks.
Table of Contents
Is It Harder For People With ADHD To Learn Guitar?
ADHD may pose a bit of a roadblock when it comes to learning how to play the guitar. There are a number of different ways that ADHD can affect a person, with each person having their own unique symptoms.
Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Inability to focus on one topic for an extended period of time
- Lack of motivation when faced with a large number of tasks or activities that require sustained focus
- Lack of organization
You might see how this could be a problem when it comes to learning the guitar. Each of these things is necessary when it comes to learning any skill.
Add in the fact that today’s modern world of technology provides many distractive facets of life (making it hard for anyone to stay focused), and you have a potential recipe for disaster.
More than ever before in history, extensive information is readily available on any topic, including the guitar. This can make it extremely hard for a self-taught guitarist to find their footing on their individual path as a musician.
What Is Necessary To Learn Guitar?
For starters, the willingness and openness to learning are needed to learn guitar. There are many levels of knowledge that apply to the instrument, and it often takes years to fully understand and utilize even the most basic of concepts.
In addition, dedication to the instrument with consistent and focused practice is going to be vital in progressing on the guitar. As with anything, the more you put in, the more you get out of it.
Because of this, it takes years of practice to fully be able to master the instrument. Many people (even without ADHD) fall short of this marker but still become great guitarists.
One thing that everyone (including those with ADHD) needs to have in order to become their idealized self as a guitarist is a master goal and realistic expectations. The road to this ultimate goal is paved in smaller goals.
What Is The Easiest Way For Someone With ADHD To Learn Guitar?
You’ve probably wondered what is the best method to learn how to play the guitar if you struggle with ADHD. Should you be self-taught or is there merit in taking lessons? What about internet-based lessons such as Guitar Tricks?
Being completely self-taught is likely going to be extremely difficult if you are unsure of where to begin. This method of learning guitar is quite difficult, even for those without ADHD.
The reason for this is that there is not a defined path or order in which to progress your studies on the guitar. With the extensive amount of information available, you may have a hard time deciding and dedicating your time and attention to one thing without bouncing around before you’ve properly learned and integrated the studied information.
What ends up happening is that you could have a vague knowledge of a lot of concepts, without any sort of way of applying them yourself. You may also become quite discouraged with your skill level and it could deter you from continuing.
So, what can you do?
Is It Good To Take Lessons If I Have ADHD?
Taking lessons is going to be the most advantageous thing you can do as a guitarist. Whether you take lessons from an in-person instructor or through videos on a resource like Guitar Tricks, you are going to reap massive benefits.
By having an instructor, you will be able to rely on another person’s lifetime of experience on the guitar to boost your knowledge and skills. You will also have guidance on a path tailored specifically for you to build incremental skills and techniques.
Guitar Tricks is an excellent resource for all guitarists, even those with ADHD. Millions of guitarists have had proven success with the methodology found with the service.
The resource contains well over 11,000 different video lessons by over 40 different instructors (each with their own specialization). The videos are all in small time segments, so you can dedicate your time and attention to the presented concept without the worry of being distracted.
If you’re a complete beginner, Guitar Tricks will walk you through all of the fundamental basics to help you advance to more specialized guitar concepts. Dedicated lessons can be found for the musical styles of rock, blues, and country.
However, that’s not all that is available, as Guitar Tricks also offers comprehensive lessons and guides on:
- Individual playing techniques
- Artist studies of the habits of famous guitarists
- Stylistic lessons based on genre
- Studies of chords and scales
- Guides on guitar tone and gear
A large number of extra features are also included with a membership to Guitar Tricks, such as:
- Fretboard training game
- Chord finder
- Scale finder
- Metronome for practice
- A comprehensive library of backing tracks to apply learned knowledge and practice solos
- Guides for guitar-related terms and other things commonly found in the guitar world (such as how to read tabs)
- Chord charts
- Diagram of the fretboard
If that wasn’t enough, Guitar Tricks also offers 1-on-1 lessons with a large number of different instructors over the internet. You can book 30-minute or 60-minute lessons and get personalized instruction and feedback with your playing.
What Else Can Help Someone With ADHD Learn Guitar?
Fortunately, there are some ways that someone with ADHD can help themselves in the quest to become their idealized version of a guitarist. These methods do not require much effort outside of what is already required to learn guitar.
It is often said that large goals are never completed all at once. Instead, they are achieved in baby steps. A fraction of an inch of progress is always going to be better than no progress at all.
We are going to apply that mental methodology with some of the following tips. This will help to provide you with some framework that you can use to accomplish your own personal guitar-related goals.
These small hacks can help to add a game element to your goals and make the entire process much more fun and motivating.
Understanding Your Individual Symptoms
Before you embark on your journey as a guitarist, it is important to take some moments to observe yourself. Specifically, take some time to analyze which symptoms of ADHD you are most affected by.
Understanding ourselves and our own personal nature is a critical factor in every human’s growth as a person. If we do not know ourselves, we cannot help ourselves, although we can learn how to do this.
Just as every person has their own learning styles that work best for them, you are your own unique individual with a unique mind. Understanding how you learn best is going to be one of your greatest assets in personal growth.
One of the common aspects of ADHD is the ability to hyperfocus for short periods of time. Learn the ideal conditions you need in order to consistently access this type of focus on a regular basis.
When you are observing yourself, take extra care not to judge yourself or fall into negative self-talk. This is not the goal of this exercise. Rather, it is to be able to analyze yourself and what your individual strengths are when learning new things.
Small Practice Sessions
Time management and staying on an organized schedule may not be your biggest strength. It can be downright daunting to attempt to learn guitar when you already know that there is a massive time commitment and much to know and understand about playing the instrument.
Quite often, this will prevent someone from picking up the guitar for long periods of time, if at all. This inevitably causes the process of learning guitar to take even more time.
The best way to tackle this issue is to practice in small increments of time. Maybe start out small, in 5-minute segments, gradually moving up the time increments to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.
This will allow you to actually engage in practicing the guitar. An accumulation of many small increments of time can still equate to a large amount of time over a day.
Those without ADHD seem to have an attention span of about 45-minute time segments, with the focus and attention span peaking and decreasing around that time mark. Yet, many even have troubles with this amount of time.
A time management technique, such as the Pomodoro Technique, can really help with tackling large tasks and staying motivated. I have used, and still, actively use this technique on a regular basis, and it has greatly improved my focus production output.
This technique uses segments of 25 minutes, with a timed break in between each segment. After a large block (such as 3 or 4) of individual 25-minute segments, a longer break is taken, eventually repeating the cycle after the break.
If 25 minutes is still too long, this same technique can be applied to smaller time increments over an hour. However you wish to use it, the Pomodoro Technique can help you get things done while staying organized and motivated.
Track And Reward Your Daily Successes
Another great way of staying on track with your goals is to adopt a sort of tracking system that will show you the daily progress you make. A system like this will allow you to celebrate your daily efforts and help you appreciate the amount of effort you put into completing your goal.
A highly effective technique for this is called The X Effect, and it only requires a writing utensil and an index card or piece of paper. This is another technique that I have actively used myself for over 5 years, and I can personally attest to its effectiveness.
To use The X Effect, you will need to draw a series of intersecting lines in a grid format. The number of lines you draw will create mini squares which will determine the number of days you will be tracking your efforts.
I personally prefer a grid of 30 squares, which roughly equates to a full month. A 30 square grid can be drawn in a 6×5 formation.
The object of this exercise is to state an action you intend to do every day (such as practice guitar). If you do the activity during the day, you can mark the box off with an X, while leaving it blank or drawing a circle when you don’t.
Believe it or not, this not only motivates you to do the intended action but rewards your brain with dopamine. However, unlike the dopamine rush that comes from video games or TV, this release of dopamine is completely natural and hard-earned.
Over time, you will be able to see how many days you completed the action (such as practicing the guitar). Keeping a practice journal in use to document your practicing status will help propel your guitar skills in a major way.
Learn The Songs You Love
One of the most important things to remember when learning guitar is to have fun. The best way you can do this is to learn your favorite songs.
This will ultimately motivate you far more than learning a song you don’t have a connection with. It will also teach you the concepts used within the song and give you an idea of how certain techniques are applied in a successful way.
Not only that but learning your favorite songs will further imprint your musical influences into your playing. This will help to make you a unique guitarist with your own voice, rather than a sort of carbon copy of another guitarist.
Staying motivated while learning the guitar is no easy feat. You can help yourself immensely by learning what interests you as an individual guitarist. Supplementing your practice exercises by learning songs can be a nice change of pace when it is needed most.
How Can I Put It All Of This Together To Learn Guitar?
Now that a fair amount of information has been provided in this article, you might be wondering how exactly to implement all of this information into one cohesive method that you can utilize.
Using the information I have provided, I will help to outline a system that you can use to stay motivated and focused in your studies. As this is a rough guide, you are encouraged to customize this for your own unique needs.
Developing Your Own System
The first thing you will want to do is to determine exactly how you are going to learn guitar: on your own or through lessons (such as Guitar Tricks). I personally recommend going the lesson route, as it will give you a concrete pathway that is digestible in small pieces.
The second thing you will need to do is to set a series of goals, with one large goal in mind. Let’s say you want to learn the basic chords first and have 15 minutes of practice time each day for one month.
After this, it is recommended to use The X Effect system, which will have your goal clearly listed. You will need to take the time to learn about the concept you wish to incorporate and utilize them in a playing manner.
Using the Pomodoro Technique, set a timer during your practice session and set the intention to have a clear focus for the duration of the session. Keep in mind that you can split your 15 minutes into 3x 5-minute segments.
During your practice session, keep a journal handy. With this, you will take notes of everything you are working on, as well as any additional notes. Some things you might want to include in your journal include:
- The metronome BPM for each exercise you practice
- A nonjudgmental critique of how you thought the exercise went, with a list of what you did well and things that could improve
Once you have completed your 15-minute daily goal, mark the corresponding daily box on the paper with your X Effect graph. This will help you see that you put the work in for that day.
After about a week of consistent practice, consider whether you feel comfortable moving on in your lesson-based studies. This will allow you to keep progressing but do take care to continue to brush up on the previous week’s concepts and practices.
Stick To The Plan
Whatever your system and goals may look like, it is vitally important that you stick to the plan you have set for yourself. It goes without saying that completing the goal will feel amazing while veering off course and not finishing will not feel too great.
Consistent practice is key with anything. Throughout my own personal musical studies from childhood through college and beyond, instructors have all said the same thing: be sure to touch your instrument every day, even if for only 15 minutes.
Following through with this will allow you to retain all of the information you are working through on the guitar. It might not always be possible to play or practice the guitar every day, but take care to remember that breaks are important as well.
How To Learn Guitar With ADHD, Final Thoughts
When you harness your own personal strengths, you can accomplish many things, ADHD or not. While this condition can be debilitating for some, you have the opportunity to personalize a custom system that works specifically for you.
This is part of the beauty of learning guitar. Each person is vastly different in the way that they learn and retain information, and each person who wishes to play guitar needs to decide for themselves what works best for them.
So that's how to learn guitar with ADHD. By setting up the proper system, you can turn a mountainous roadblock into something that puts jet fuel into your guitar journey vehicle.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!