Practice makes perfect, right? For some of us this mantra has become like a thorn in our flesh. We practice until our calluses hurt and our wrists are sore and we don’t seem to be anywhere closer to perfect than when we started. So what do we do? Give up our dreams of playing the way we want to or burn out and give up playing all together.
Well…“perfect” players do practice… a lot, but so do we. We have seen people who hardly practice yet they seem to find that mysterious destination called “amazing.” Not right away, but gradually, little by little they get closer and closer to that goal of being God’s guitar hero of the Sunday Morning Service. Why? Because practice makes perfect. Right? Sort of.
Our practice decides our performance. How we play in our practices will be how we play in a performance. Perhaps it is more accurate to say “perfect practice makes perfect playing.” So we must change our mentality for our practices. Often times we think of practices as a time to just play guitar without really paying attention to how we are playing. Practice is the time to make mistakes, but if we practice with the three “R’s” we can make sure it doesn’t happen outside of our private practice sessions.
1. Relaxation. Muscle tension is the number one inhibiter keeping most guitarists from excellence. If excellence was Batman, tension is the Joker with a backyard pool of that laughing gas poison stuff he has. If you’re Superman, tension is Kryptonite. It is evil. Especially when you practice. Muscle tension will keep you fingers and hands from moving smoothly and quickly. When you pick up the guitar, concentrate on your muscles and check to see if any of them are tight. When practicing a riff, progression or solo you want only the necessary muscles to be taut, everything else should be as loose as possible. When are you too relaxed? When you fall over and don’t even put you hands out to catch yourself…that’s when.
2. Repetition. How you do something is most likely how you will do it again. Our fingers and hands are like pets. They won’t start off doing what you want but if you take time to train them they will become blue ribbon pedigrees wanting nothing more than to obey your every command. The way to teach your fingers in training is to run through things slowly and perfectly. Every time you do, it “teaches” your fingers the motion you want them to take. With every run-through your fingers start to get it more and more. The more they get it the less you have to think about playing it and you can play it at full-speed smoothly. The more intentional you are while playing slowly the less you have to be when you play fast.
3. Reward. If you don’t enjoy your practice sessions are you really going to want to practice again? Great guitar players become great players because they love the process of getting better. Make your practices enjoyable. It doesn’t always have to be rudiments and metronomes. Playing the guitar has to be just that: playing. The first step of greatness is loving the road that leads us there. WOW THAT’s DEEP. That was worth the whole blog right there.
Just more ways to sound good.