You’ve probably seen plenty of advice on how to improve your guitar playing. So I thought I’d do the opposite. In this article, I’ll reveal how to totally suck at guitar…
Cool. Here we go. Here’s how to totally suck at guitar…
Practice things until you can play them.
That is all. If you do that, you are guaranteed to totally suck at guitar.
End of article.
OK. It’s not really the end of the article…
Before you start thinking that I’ve been writing while smoking crack, I need to explain what I mean by this. But before I do, please take the next five minutes to think about what it could mean. Once you’ve done that, please read on…
Here’s What Many People Do…
Let’s pretend for a second that you want to learn a guitar lick that you think sounds cool. You start to practice it…
At first, you can’t even play the damn thing. You make mistake after mistake. But after enough attempts you eventually get both hands working together as a team. And to your delight, you finally can play the lick.
You then play the lick a few times perfectly. It takes a LOT of concentration, but you manage to do it. And then you say to yourself…”Awesome, I can now move onto the next lick”. Right?
Well, you can do this if you totally want to suck at guitar. It’s what many budding guitar players do. They miss out the most important part of learning something on the guitar…
The best guitar players practice things until they have mastered them. They internalise what they practice. What this means is they practice something until they can play it without thinking. If playing something requires a lot of thought, then you haven’t mastered it.
The internalisation of something requires many perfect repetitions done in a relaxed way with good technique. So if you stop practising a lick just as you are able to play it, you aren’t doing the necessary number of perfect repetitions to internalise it. This means that you’re cheating yourself out of the joy of becoming a good guitar player. You will also probably notice some (or all) of the following…
- Your playing falls apart when you are nervous.
- You lack confidence in your abilities.
- You feel tense when you play.
- You learn things but forget them soon afterwards.
- You have trouble applying what you learn to your improvising.
- You practice regularly, but your playing doesn’t improve at a rate that you’re happy with.
- You learn bits and pieces of songs, but never seem to learn a song from start to finish.
I’ll stop there. But you get the idea. A lot of guitar players never reach their potential because they try to bypass the practice that is needed to internalise things. They stop practising something just as they can play it. And that’s exactly when they need to START practising it!
Resistance Is Futile
I’ve noticed over the years that some students will resist this internalisation. They are very impatient. They’re in such a rush to learn new things that they want to skip the process of internalisation. For people like this, I like to use what I call the “bolt-cutter analogy”. I tell them that trying to bypass the internalisation process is like cutting off all of your fingers with a pair of bolt-cutters. Both will make it impossible for you to be an awesome guitarist.
[Legal Disclaimer: Please do NOT cut off any of your fingers with a pair of bolt-cutters trying to prove me wrong. It’s quite a silly thing to do].
So What Will It Be…The Blue Pill, Or The Red Pill?
At this point in time, you have an important choice to make…
- Allow your impatience to enslave you by making you practice many things on a shallow level. (Result=Sucking at guitar).
- Let go of your impatience and learn to embrace mastery. (Result=Kick-ass guitar playing).
Choose wisely. 🙂
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