There are so many guitarists out there and still, so few of them knows how to practice in a good way. Many will say "oh, I play for a while and then I´m fine". But you won´t be fine doing that. Or maybe you will, if your goal is to get to a decent level where you´ll get stuck forever. But to get really good at playing guitar, or any intrument for that sake, is to practice in a good way. I´m going to give you some tips now and then on this blog, and here are the first one´s:
- Practice every day: Yes, this is the key to getting good at playing. It´s better to practice just some minutes every day than doing two hours on one day once a week. Why? Well, that´s how the human being works, it needs consistence. And this is not really just a matter when it comes to guitar, or music, it´s a key to getting good at everything. A great athlete trains every day, a great writer writes every day and a great salesman sells stuff every day. And they don´t do it without thinking "how can I get better?". They do it being aware of what they do and how to do it. They might not use the same procedure every day, instead an athlete works out in different ways from one day to another, but he/she will do it with an awareness of progression. And this is what the guitarist also should do. If you want a better legato, you´ve got to work. Hard. And with concistence. And yes, sometimes it will be boring and sometimes it will be frustrating, but then it´s even more important to practice. You must earn your greatness. Practice that legato every day, or at least every second day, to get better. And do it thinking "what must I do to get better?". Don´t fool around for a bit and think "oh, it sounds ok now". Ok isn´t good enough. Good is good, yes, but great is better. And you will only get great of you practice in a good way.
Start out slow, do the exercise or the lick or whatever you need to improve at a slow pace where you make no mistakes. Then, increase the speed, but not too much. You still need to have full control, be relaxed and play without mistakes. Then you can move on in an even higher tempo and in the end, you will nail what you practice in the speed you desire. A metronome will come in handy, so you have something to measure your progress against. It will also be a great tool to check if you really play the lick tight. It´s also good to write down the highest BPM where you can play this exercise flawless, so you will know where to pick up next time you´ll practice. Another good tool is a little recording device, so you can listen afterwards. Do you play flawless? Are there any mistakes? Is it sloppy as hell? Why? A third tool is a mirror, where you can check if your body is tense. Check your shoulders, are they relaxed or are they tense while you play? Are your fingers moving in a relaxed way? Of course, a video camera could replace the recording device and the mirror. You can watch yourself on a video and both listen to your playing and watch your body.
So this is the first installment of this blog, and the first one to focus on practicing. There will be more in the future, a lot more, and it will be complementing the tips in this entry. But for a quick summary, this is today´s focus points:
- Practice every day.
- Practice with an awareness.
- Use tools as a metronome, a recording device and a mirror.
- Start out slow and increase the speed gradually
- Write down and keep track of your progress
- Think about why you´re not getting better
- Great is better than good
- And finally, don´t give up! If you practice properly, you will get to where you want to be.