6 May 2009

Guitar Practice: The Get It Right Now Trap

Here's a guitar practice time wasting trap that's easy for anyone to fall into, and an easy cure so you can reduce your chances of getting suckered yet again.

Do you ever find yourself spending your whole practice session on one little exercise, desperately trying to get it right? The rest of your practice goes out of the window as you battle with this one thing. Here's how to banish this guitar practice pitfall once and for all.

Must Get It Right

This trap grabs you when you set out to practice something with the idea that you must get it right.

You start off with a list of things to work on but somehow you get hooked by something that doesn't work right, you keep repeating it over and over, slowing it down, trying different approaches, and then before you know it you are all out of practice time and the rest of your list is left undone.

Cure The Problem

Plan your practice in advance, the plan can be a simple list of things to work on each session. Decide to repeat each thing in your plan a certain number of times, three times say. Do each thing three times and then move on.

Don't worry if it's not perfect at the third attempt. This is practice, right? If everything you did was perfect you would not need to practice. If you are getting most of the things in your practice plan right then you are practicing the wrong things.

Keep On Moving

Move on when you've repeated each item, don't stop to fiddle with the same exercise or piece until you get it right.

By moving on to the next exercise or piece after three repeats or so you will get to work on a wider variety of things in your practice session.

Don't worry about getting each piece right in the first few goes. Keep working on them each practice session and they will come right in the end. This is the whole purpose of practice.

What's more, you will be more relaxed about each piece that you have difficulty with. There's nothing worse for your playing than being all tensed up with gritted teeth.

Let Your Unconscious Help

When you're not working on that problem passage you also give your unconscious mind a chance to work on the problem in the background and help you out.

Many times I've started to practice something that I couldn't play the last time only to find it suddenly works. Your brain somehow keeps working on it during the break and figures out a solution while you're not looking.

Don't Let Perfectionism Waste Your Practice Time

This practice pitfall is really a thinly disguised perfectionism. You don't want to be beaten by a measly guitar exercise, do you? You know you are better than that, so you are determined to prove you can play that piece, whatever it takes.

But this attitude is not only ineffective it also eats up your practice time and prevents you from putting in time on other things you need to practice.

Keep On Flying

"Better not look down, if you want to keep on flying
Put the hammer down, keep it full speed ahead
Better not look back, or you might just wind up crying
You can keep it moving, if you don't look down"
-- BB King, Better Not Look Down

To keep flying ahead in your guitar practice, remember these wise words from BB. Follow your practice plan, and don't keep going back over the same things too many times. Remember to keep on moving and fill your time with a valuable variety of exercises.

Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original content for your guitar web sites. Discover guitar writing services for web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.

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Sarge said...

Must Get It Right Trap....The most dangerous of all. Bands would never get out on the road if they fell into this one.

Very good thoughts Gary

Gary Fletcher said...

Interesting point Curt, this definitely applies to band rehearsals too. I know my band falls into this trap sometimes.

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