THE ART OF PRACTICE

The subject of practice is without doubt a difficult one to tackle, tell students they have to practice regularly to see improvements and they are put off picking up the guitar. But that doesn’t mean that the need to practice isn’t a reality.

I had a student frustrated with his progress, when I asked him how much he played between lessons it became obvious that he picked the guitar up very little, thinking that finding ten minutes to look at the scale or song I’d asked him to work on would be enough. This student also played cricket, so I asked him “Do you bowl” He looked at me as if I were an idiot! “Of course I bowl” he said, “I’m a really good bowler!”. “So how did you become a good bowler” I asked. He thought for a few seconds and without any further discussion he said “I need to play more if I want to get good don’t I!” Bingo, the penny had dropped.

I believe the fact that the more you practice the quicker you are going to develop as a player is a fairly obvious statement, but the problem we have when starting out is there is so much to learn! Finger mechanics, chord shapes, scales, not to mention the thousands of songs you want to learn, so how do we find time to fit it all in.

Here’s the trick! Firstly don’t not think of it as practice, think of everything you do as playing. Think of your favourite video game, you don’t practice that to get to the next level, you play the game!! Just like you should with the guitar, don’t practice it, play it. Every time you pick it up you’re going to play the thing.

Secondly, set some goals! What do you want to achieve and by when? Focus on these individual goals as tools in your musical tool-kit, collect them one by one and eventually you will have all the tools you need to do what you want to do and that’s the key bit! You don’t play the guitar for anyone else! It’s a totally selfish addiction that when you are ready to you can share with other people!

So what is a goal?

Well it’s whatever you want it to be, you’re going to master the first chords, you’re going to learn three songs by Christmas, you’re going to master alternate picking or string bending or slides why not all three!!

Decide and focus, that’s all you need to do. Oh and remember to play!!