I’ve spent 10 years trying to become good at guitar and music, failed at it almost completely, and now give a last chance before understanding, that the whole stuff is just not my cup of tea.


I strongly believe that people nowadays do not share enough the ways they fail in life. Everywhere you look you will see the history of success, social media feeds will make you feel bad for sitting the evenings in front of your TV watching that new anime series.

But for every success story being wrapped and presented in a digestible way in your Instagram feed there are ten stories of failure and unaccomplishments you don’t see. Trying to break free from this echo chamber of glory I want to share my frustration with what I really love in life and what I constantly fail to achieve.

A passion for music, early years

As long as I remember, I’ve always wanted to play music or sing. Since my early childhood when there was always a tape recorder in the apartment, I was singing loudly and badly to all of the tapes I had. Given I’ve been growing up in the post-soviet country the repertoire was, to put it mildly, questionable, consisting of pop music of Russian/Ukrainian origin, and some Russian chanson, but for me at the moment it did not matter.

I felt the honest joy that, perhaps, you only feel as a child, screaming lyrics to my parents I did not even understand at the moment. Yet I felt really happy. In the same way, I was happy about MTV and VH1 music channels affecting my music taste at that moment. I was overwhelmed with the idea of being a rockstar, an idol in front of a million people’s audience treating you as the god.

Then, quite skipping some time, came the school, the pre-smartphone era. I did not have the internet at the moment so quite a lot of the music I heard was coming from CDs I was able to borrow, mp3 songs being exchanged via the infrared port or the Bluetooth. Things I adored listening to were what was popular amongst teenagers in the 2000s - 50 Cent, Eminem, Linkin Park, Three Days Grace, and russian hip-hop. etc. The whole music melting pot was on my phone and in my head back then.

My k800i (but not my photo) and my window to the world

I loved to sing still. I had to ask my school friends to get my .txt files of lyrics so I could sing along with them before I had the lovely GPRS opera mobile browser with a 23 monthly megabyte limit so I could really do it myself.

And I’m really grateful for that time and opportunity I had back then (even though now those ‘opportunities’ seem laughable) as it helped me a lot to learn the English language, both grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

A passion for music, the pirate era

Then came a proper internet on my PC, and the whole world of illegal music opened up to me, and I swam, and I swam, and I drew, and I swam back again. I can point to this period of my life (~15-19 years old) as affecting most of my music tastes. This was the period of internal elitism growing within me. A period when I understood that everything I’d ever listened to before was basically shit and I needed to re-collect myself and bring a new me to the birth (yeah, sounds a heck a lot pretentious, but I was a teenager and I’m really glad I had this exaggerated period in my life).

I was sitting a lot on various imageboards in /mu/ trying to find out what the most elitist music out there, coming through a plethora of genres and artists I’d never heard about before with stars I was gravitated to like Coil, Joy Division, Аукцыон, Shellac, Fugazi and some other ones.

A guitar(s) journey

Around this moment I was already making some money, and, moving out from my parents’ house I bought my first guitar. Because guitars were cool, and I wanted to be cool as well.

I’ve spent 300$ (which was a lot for me back then) on the Ibanez GAX30 and some Ibanez amplifiers to rock hard. I hardly rocked. The learning curve was non-existent and consisted of learning what tabs are and sporadically learning a leak or two from songs I enjoyed, together with watching some YouTube videos for some technique tips. (spoiler: this approach lasted with me for quite some time).

Looking back I understand, how bad everything was: I did not know about changing strings and they were rusty, dirty, and not the best caliber gauge for the beginner. The whole guitar required a major maintenance and professional set-up as its neck was after some time bent, the height of strings was terrible, the amplifier soon died and the practice intervals were way too long, to say the least.

Ibanez GAX 30

Soon after that I purchased an acoustic guitar and tried to learn it as well finding out that I didn’t particularly like it and sold it.

This guitar was with me for about 5 years of several attempts to learn how to play until the moment I understood (I seem to see the pattern here, he-he) that I was not going anywhere, so I came to the conclusion every guitar player comes in their life: the problem is not in me, I just need a new guitar.

So, I bought two: guitar and the bass.

Fender Telecaster & Cort A4

I also admitted to myself (for quite a while) that self-learning, even though I respect that type of education, is not working anymore. I found a guitar school in Minsk where I could take some lessons.

At first, it was amazing, I was going to the guitar teacher and learning something new, deconstructing the neural connections that I built in the wrong way and learning how to play electric guitar and electric bass. In the meantime, I also decided to learn how to play drums and I quit it after about 8 lessons because I wanted to focus on a single learning time.

Even though things were going quite well I faced a feeling of things not working well again. I did not particularly like the teacher I had, and, what is more important, I felt that I’d lost a passion for what I was doing and I was going nowhere.

Jams: Glory, drive, and disappointment

I sold my bass and purchased another electric guitar which I really enjoyed touching and playing.

Ibanez s540

Around 2021-ish my colleagues asked me to join jam sessions they had. There’s already been a drummer, bass player, keyboard master, and a guitarist and I was asked to try vocals. This was a very mixed experience, I was extremely excited to participate with people who can play but I really-really-really sucked. And it was noticeable, especially for me.

I took vocal courses for a while and tried to play the guitar instead but I lagged behind in every way: I did not have good relative pitch and my singing was way off the key, I lacked rhythmic understanding thus I always screwed understanding when to take my part and, what was even more terrifying for me, the difference level between me and other team members was astonishing. I could not keep up with the speed other participants had of learning a new material or getting in sync together, I procrastinated preparations and I had to quit this activity. I felt really ashamed.

Moving between countries

Beautiful PRS

For quite some period of time (~2021-22 years) I was busy with relocation questions, then the war started and I did not have a lot of urge to play, I sold the guitars I had before, purchased new one instead, had to leave it behind as the war started and I had to move from Odessa to Warsaw, purchased a yet new one (Ibanez RG370) practice a bit and this time also passed by.

And yet another Ibanez

More jams, even more disappointment

The year is 2023 and old team-mates who also relocated to Warsaw asked me to join jam sessions once again with some new material. The loop repeated itself. I’ve tried it a couple of times with the rest of the dedication I had but failed again.

Decided to restart again, bought yet another guitar, and went to a new guitar teacher in Warsaw and this experience was far better than before. I started understanding what I wanted and with the help of Pavel was able to learn more and more about the technique, music theory, cool leaks, and other stuff.

Ibanez ICHI-10

Ibanez ICHI-10

But I was not able to keep up with my peers once again in learning the material and dedication to practice and preparations, then I had some old back trauma reinstate itself and I quit in even more disappointment than I already had before leaving me where I am at the moment of writing.

What I’ve learned from learning

Every failure gives us a chance to reflect and try to understand what went wrong and what can be done better. As you can from the text above - I had quite a lot of time invested in the failure.

To learn something complex quicker - you need a good teacher

I’ve spent a large amount of time trying to teach myself as I believed that was a very efficient way to learn (who can do better if not me?). I’ve paid quite a high price (~7 years of the whole process) doing that. My confidence and progress were boosted the most when I had someone way more experienced and good at teaching rather than a book or any of the popular YouTubers (there are really good ones out there, but I, for example, need some guidance).

There’s just way too much of everything around: hundreds of guitar schools and online teachers (I’m subscribed to a dozen guitar YouTube channels and I only remember memes and funny stuff out of there and some song explanations), hundreds of books (I’ve read ~3 about the guitar and it gave me almost nothing as the result) and having someone who thinks for you and tells you the route towards something you want to achieve is a true dealbreaker.

Some things are difficult and painful

I can not count the number of times I felt disappointed at what I learned and what I’m able to do musically, I still feel. There’s always a fight with your own ego and a sense of constant frustration when you’re learning something complicated and failing again and again. This is something that just needs to be accepted and stoically handled if you believe in what you’re doing. This step is difficult too.

It is difficult to dissect why you want to do something

What often stops you is the inability to tell yourself why you’re doing the stuff you’re doing.

I don’t believe I have the answer to this question at the moment, unfortunately, and that’s what makes this topic really delicate for me.

I don’t feel the connection with some childish dreams of being on stage. They’re replaced with the practical adult understanding that money needs to be earned and, statistically speaking, being a musician is not the way to earn them, given that I’m (hopefully) good at my profession.

Perhaps the only thing that remains is just a way to distract from my day-to-day routine and enjoy the process of musical creation (which I’m not able to do with my level of preparation).

Have a plan and a dedication

Per the last year, I understood, that without having some kind of a plan and dedicating time to learn and practice almost on a daily basis you’re likely to fail.

I attempt to track the habit of at least the music practice in a separate app and still, I constantly fail my goals even though I have all I need to do that. I’m yet to figure out why.

Habits tracking app

Habits tracking app

Each year it gets harder and harder to learn

As I grow older I notice two things: my focus in what I do narrows down to only some key activities, even though in the past I was interested in almost everything around me, and my amount of internal power to deliberately do something other than playing video games or consuming some stupid content falls down.

I don’t feel that amount of internal drive and willpower to after work and daily chores. I think this may be overcome when building a healthy set of routines around sport, good sleep, and good eating habits but I’m not there at this point of my life and maybe I have to switch priorities there to be better at my hobby, counter-intuitively.

New Year resolution and final promise

I’ve tried to recall my past attempts at doing what I love(d?) and I’m truly frightened. I’ve spent a good ton of money and time learning something and I still can’t make something worth it.

I want to give one last attempt at trying to succeed at it and I came up with some plan and goal. As around the moment of writing it 2023 was over and 2024 was coming I did what every procrastinator and professional fail-lover does: made some year goals.

I give myself a year to do a very small thing: create 1 musical track that I would like from scratch, with the guitar part being recorded by me.

Someone could smile at something as miserable as this being a goal after spending 10 years learning something but if I can not do even this - it means I don’t really belong in the musical creation area. A passive listener is just the best role I can handle if I am realistic. In case I fail I will sell my guitars, and equipment, would think of some explanations not to hurt my ego and just go on with something else.