I’ve mentioned before about how an ipod is a great tool and inspiration to play and it was reinforced by my arm strap breaking and going tuneless at work for a week. There was a notable difference in the motivation to play when I got home and when I got a new one and plugged back in, so to speak, listening all day kept the music at the forefront of my mind and I came to practice time much more motivated, and focused on what it was I wanted to work on.
Maintaining motivation is key. Learning to play takes many many hours; it takes re-affirmation, fresh challenges, incremental goals, and a continual feeding of your love for music.
(warning, analytical BS to follow)
From another angle, it has been determined that:
“Monkeys experience octave equivalency, and its biological basis apparently is an octave mapping of neurons in the auditory thalamus of the mammalian brain  and the perception of octave equivalency in self-organizing neural networks can form through exposure to pitched notes, without any tutoring, this being derived from the acoustical structure of those notes (Bharucha 2003, cited in Fineberg 2006).”
The reason I cite this is back-up for a suggestion that exposure to music with critical listening skills suggests its structure to the mind, laying out the patterns and possibilities of the musical instrument and self organizing….we ARE “self organizing neural networks”. All the complex stuff that blows our minds was at some point made up by human beings,(ostensibly less complex than we have become), in order to describe music. We take for granted the processes by which we have learned speech, typing, driving etc. and somehow feel that the complexities of music are beyond our grasp, when it really surrounds us and permeates our existence. (gettin’ deep in BS now).
ok simply put: Music IS, all the notation and what-not are our tools to describe and communicate what IS. My approach to self instruction began with chords and chord letter notation and I notice that the changes, the movements between the chords is the greater part, the part unwritten,(by chord notation), which leads to scale/chord/octave/inversions/harmonics/improvisation,etc, not to mention a growing fluency with the notes on the fretboard, tab notation, standard notation, chord theory, scale structure. No matter where you begin, each aspect is integral to the rest.
We divide up and annotate the music but that’s just for our point of reference, on a guitar, it’s pretty much modulation of the 440 hertz frequency range. But first, you gotta train your fingers to go where you want them to, to the point where you can think about where the music is going and not your hands. I’m not there yet, but have caught a glimpse and want to go there.
It all begins with listening.