3 June 2009

How to Fix Guitar Mistakes Effectively

We all make mistakes as we learn guitar. The way we deal with them can make a big difference to how well we progress. Here's a technique that can improve your ability to fix playing mistakes and progress to new levels of guitar playing.

What Do You Do With Your Mistakes?

What do you do when you make a mistake? If you're anything like me then most of the time you simply repeat the passage in the hope it will somehow go away with time. But this is not necessarily the most effective approach. You might have noticed that you can practice a mistake like this for a long time before you get rid of it.

A more effective approach is to face our mistakes and deal with them in a systematic way. Here's one system that I've found gives good results.

Acknowledge Your Mistake

Start to deal with your mistake by acknowledging it and the frustration it causes you. Often, we give these little mistakes almost no attention, we simply restart the exercise again.

But when you take a moment to acknowledge the mistake it becomes more real. You begin to really notice its existence and in turn you can start to deal with it. Without an acknowledgement you can't treat the mistake seriously to find solutions to it.

Once you acknowledge the mistake take a moment to think about the frustration it causes you. Then let go of this frustration. Tell yourself that the mistake is not part of you, it's simply a problem to change as you learn guitar.

Figure Out A Solution

Once you've acknowledged your mistake to make it real and let go of the frustration it causes you take a pen and paper and answer three questions to figure out how you will stop making this mistake.

1. Ask yourself why you make the mistake.

Play the bar where you make it and pay close attention to what happens. What exactly is going wrong?

Identify the finger that is not in the right place at the right time. Maybe your arm is in the wrong position, or maybe the problem is in your mind which is not clear about exactly where you are going.

2. Write down what you need to do differently to avoid this mistake.

Write down exactly what you need to do differently to fix the problem you identified. Include enough detail that you can really "see" the solution in your mind.

3. Write down how you will do what you need to.

OK, so now you know what you want to do differently, but how are you going to get there? You need to make a change, a change that eliminates the problem and replaces it with correct movements.

Maybe you need to practice the movement in a particular way to isolate and fix the problem. Maybe you need to do some visualization exercises to get the right movement firmly fixed in your mind. Whatever it is you plan to do to fix the problem, write it down.

Implement The Solution

Keep your answers someplace you can review them regularly, at least once per day. Fix the solution firmly in your mind so when practice time rolls around you know exactly what to do to fix your mistake.

Simply repeating an exercise that causes a mistake in the hope it will go away might eventually cure it. But it is not the most effective solution. To fix playing mistakes fast and effectively make a conscious effort to understand them and develop a solution. Try this approach on your next mistake and discover how much time you can save yourself.


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