Have you noticed a pattern in your playing? And I don't mean the good kind. I'm talking about the kind of pattern where you play the same licks over and over again with predictability and staleness. We're talking pentatonic box, Jimmy Page licks that never change no matter what song you’re playing.
Many players try to incorporate new ideas with old ideas, hoping they will mesh together to create something powerful. Trouble is, you only really retain the old licks you knew in the first place. To really grow with your musical ideas, we need to set boundaries. I know, it seems backward. Limiting yourself in order to grow?
We need to set specific parameters on your playing in order for growth and change to take place. Here's how it works:
1. Write down every lick or riff you play nearly every time you solo, improvise, or jam with other musicians.
2. Don't use these ideas at all in your practicing or jamming for a few weeks.
3. During this time, create a new place to play or a different set of notes to use. For example, if you generally solo using the first shape of the major scale, don’t use it. Choose one of the other six shapes you never use, and only use it for a few weeks. Or, use only a handful of notes, maybe four or five, and see how inventive you can be with only that.
4. Repeat this process with another box or set of notes.
5. Eventually, reincorporate your old ideas with these new ones, but make sure it’s been a long while since you’ve used these older ideas.
Now try limiting your technique. Let’s say you generally use legato-style playing when you solo. Try only using alternate picking, even if you’re not good at it. Or, let’s say you usually race across scales in your playing. Try soling using only arpeggios. Obviously, at the end of the day, in a performance setting, you don’t want to limit yourself, but if you want to expand the ideas you use in your music, you must limit yourself and set boundaries during practice or jam sessions.
The best way to follow through with these steps is with the guided direction of a professional guitar instructor. Don’t put it off. Check out the best Fort Worth guitar lessons and sign up for your first free lesson today! We’ll record you playing right away, then get to work improving and honing your skills and musicianship.
By Eric Bourassa