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Your current mindset determines your ability to play guitar. Therefore, a better
mindset will give you better guitar playing results. So, instead of learning a new scale, lick,
or song, utilize these simple mindset shifts to get more out of every minute you practice:
1. SLOW IT DOWN
You must slow it down more than you think. Let’s say that 9 times out 10 you are
making mistakes. Chances are that you aren’t slowing it down enough to actually solve
the problem you are having. Warning: if you are making the same mistake again and
again, then you are actually practicing to play it wrong! Conventional wisdom usually
says that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them. That is true at some level, but if
you keep making the same mistake in your playing without actually fixing it, you are
ingraining it into your muscle memory.
Associate fast guitar playing with slow practicing. Most guitar players learn fast
licks and then start practicing them as fast as possible to develop the speed of the
passage. This often results in total disaster. Practicing fast licks, especially new ones,
require slow and careful programming to execute properly and consistently. I have
seen so many guitarists learn a fast passage and immediately start shredding
repetitions only to ingrain horrible technique, missed notes, and misdirected picking into
that passage. It is so essential to master the notes, picking, and tone of your notes in
order to play fast cleanly. There is a time to play fast and develop speed, but it happens
long after you have learned the passage perfectly and can play it perfectly many times
and a slow to moderate tempo. Think about it this way, if you don’t know which
direction your pick is hitting every single note, what do you think will happen when you
play it fast? Do you think your picking hand will magically adjust to the correct most
efficient picking? Wrong. If you think it does, you are only fooling yourself by playing
faster than your ear can recognize mistakes.
2. MAKE TIME TO PRACTICE
Instead of saying “I don’t have time”, ask yourself “When do I have time?”
Often guitarists will say that they don’t practice as much as they should because
they don’t have the time. Now, I understand that everyone has busy lives, some much
busier than others. However, if you are busy doing one thing, you could be busy
playing guitar. Instead of telling yourself that you “I don’t have the time” to practice,
instead ask yourself “When can I find time to practice?”. This small tweak will influence
your mind to find the time, as opposed to accepting failure and turning off. The truth is
that you probably have plenty of time to improve and get better at guitar. By applying
the mindset shifts taught in this article, you will already be getting more out of every
minute you play. Acknowledge that we all have the same 24 hours per day and you can
easily find 15, 10, or even 5 minutes to practice guitar. While you are on the go, there
are so many visualization and mental practice exercises that will make a tremendous
difference in your playing. So remember, remove the phrase “I don’t have time” from
your vocabulary. Take responsibility for your success as a musician and dedicate time
to practice every day!
3. USE YOUR PRACTICE TIME ONLY TO PRACTICE
Being there at the right time ready to practice isn’t enough to get great results.
Actually using that whole time to improve your guitar playing is the key to massive
improvement. For example, if you set aside an hour of playing, but are actually
checking your phone every 5 minutes, stopping to chat, zoning out, looking up youtube
lessons, then you aren’t committed to your guitar practice. This also means that if you
set aside time to practice scales, but end up improvising or playing your favorite song,
you still aren’t committed to your practice! So you must commit in your mind that you
are going to practice what you need to practice the whole time you agreed to do so.
You must become aware when you are no longer engaged in the activity you are
committed to doing. Creating this one little change in your mind alone will produce
great results for your musicianship! Remember to know yourself and not scheduling
long sessions if you know you can’t stay focused!
Commit to staying focused during practice sessions. There’s more to it than just
4. SERIOUSLY! SLOW IT DOWN!
I tell people again and again to slow it down between 5-25% of tempo. If you
aren’t playing something basically perfectly every time, then you need to go down to
5-25% tempo. If you are making the same mistakes, SLOW IT DOWN.
5. HAVE MORE FUN!
Get your mindset focused on the fun aspects of guitar practice. Yes, playing
guitar can be hard work. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring or feel like
torture. For example, if you want to get in shape and you hate weight lifting, don’t lift
weights to get in shape! Instead, look at all the other fun options like playing basketball
or taking a scenic run. Practicing guitar is no different. Gamify how you practice. If you
like things to be fast paced, then practices more things for shorter periods of time! If
you want to make it easy, then just practice one thing. Practicing should only be
monotonous if you are inspired to be monotonous. If you aren’t having some fun,
making games out of it, and looking forward to practice, then you need to employ your
creativity! A good rule of thumb: become so engaged in your practicing that you won’t
want to look at the clock.
About the Author:
This article is written by Wiebe Ophorst of www.LoganSquareGuitarSchool.com. Check it out!