11 December 2009

Do You Need a New Guitar Practice Environment?


Do you always practice guitar in the same setting? A comfortable environment where you can leave out your guitar and practice materials is often convenient. It helps you start practice easily and quickly, and might encourage you to practice more often.

But if you always practice in the same place it could become a pitfall, a pitfall that leads problems when you play in unfamiliar places.

Is This You?
Have you already had the experience of being unable to perform a piece that you seemed to master during practice? A song you played quite easily in your practice room becomes filled with mistakes when you play it somewhere else.

Why is this? Can you suddenly become worse at playing the guitar, forget what you seemed to know? Well, no, you don't forget but you can find that what you know becomes inaccessible to you because of the way your memory works.

Associative Memory

Our memories love to organize knowledge and create links between things. Your guitar knowledge is no exception. Your memory constantly attaches new knowledge to familiar things uses these same things as cues to retrieve the knowledge when you need it.

If you always practice in the same setting, then that setting will become one of the vital cues your mind associates with your musical knowledge and skills. When you try to play elsewhere these cues and associations are not there and your mind puts your musical knowledge somewhere to the back of your mind.

How to Solve the Problem

Fortunately, this pitfall is easy to fix. You simply need to shake up your practice habits from time to time to reduce your mind's dependence on your practice setting. To ensure you are comfortable and play easily in the places you want to perform, it's a good idea to spend some time practicing in a similar environment.

Introduce some changes by getting out and about to play elsewhere. Move to other rooms in your house to play, stand up instead of sitting down - or vice-versa, go to the park or some other place outdoors and play.

Over to You

Want to improve your ability to play anywhere without mysteriously forgetting and messing up the music? Make a commitment to shake up your guitar practice environment. Get out and practice in three different places this week.

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Photo by Martin Kingsley.

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