How to Be Aggressive With Your Playing

Inspiration. Being aggressive with everything you do related to music.

Ultimate Guitar

The intent of this article is to hopefully move you, to inspire you and basically get you off your a-s. For those of you who need a little inspiration... This is for you.

"It's difficult for anyone to question your tenacity with their head chewed off." The internet. Here are my personal thoughts: Forget everyone else. Be aggressive enough to beat the you of yesterday. Top what you did yesterday. Try to play an even better riff than the one you played yesterday. Enhance the solo you came up with. Here's another quote from "Relentless," Yngwie Malmsteen's book, that I love: "When I got home, I'd play till 5 or 6 A.M., then crash for a few hours, wake up, with my guitar still on me, and do the same thing all over again." That's absolute aggressiveness.

Defining Aggressiveness

The first definition I came across was: assertive, bold and energetic. This is how you should approach practicing your guitar and music in general. Here's another one: Characterized by or inclined toward vigorous or intensive medical treatment: an aggressive approach to treating the infection. This is how you should approach any weak areas of your guitar playing.

I see these words and I immediately put them to my playing. In my humble opinion this is the way you have to be. You should have an aggressive practice regimen, or rehearsal schedule if you are in a band. No one ever got anywhere by being passive. No one ever got good by only going out and playing a few shows. Think of all the tours since the beginning of touring; this is being aggressive. The band Gojira has been doing it for 20 years and so has Machine Head and Metallica. Tackle your sessions, be in and out, no thinking. The thinking should be done ahead of time, at the beginning of the day or before your session. If you have a gig and you need to work on your songs then that's what needs to be done.

Don't try to do it all in one day but you need to be more aggressive in your approach if you want to master the guitar or your live show for that matter. You gotta be more thorough to get above average skills. If you are short on time then you have to consider sacrifice. Sacrifice something for more time with your music. It could be anything. Whatever is of most importance to you should be taken care of first. So for instance if you know it makes you happy to get in a nice, long, thorough practice session then you need to be aware of anything that can threaten that and combat it since the world likes to get in the way of what we like to do most. If you are like me then you get tons of distractions all day long. Being aggressive means you chew these instances up and spit them out. Put the world on hold while you get your licks in.

The Weeds of Idleness

Not practicing for a day or two or even a week or two can do you good considering you've practiced every other day throughout the year but if you haven't then you don't need to be taking a day off. Being Idle is the devil's playground. And in this playground will grow weeds if you don't take care of it and watch over it. If you haven't tended to it when you get back to playing you will have to cut out all the weeds first just before you can start playing at the level you were playing at before you became idle. Don't be idle. Be aggressive. Don't let the weeds grow.

Being Aggressive

Just decide to be it. Decide to attack your passion with relentlessness. For the time that you are playing, forget the world. Focus on you and the song and nothing else. Write out aggressive goals. For example, its more aggressive to write out a practice session in which 5 days in a row, or even several hours in a row you practice improvisation, than if you casually decide to throw some improvisation in there every now and then. Get clear and write everything down. From chords and scales, to etudes and songs, to vibrato and rhythm to legato and sweeping, tapping, etc. Hit each area of your guitar playing relentlessly. Make sure you don't even think about it too much. Just dive right into it and adjust as you are going along. I've spent more time thinking about life and things and all that time could've been applied to attacking my skill set which at the end of the day leads to better health, happiness and a feeling of accomplishment.


Aggressiveness is underrated. It's looked upon in a negative light by some, if not many, people who think that life just happens to you and that being aggressive is too strong or wrong, or something of that nature. If I'm not being aggressive with every area of my life I don't feel good. I feel like I haven't put all my effort and I haven't lived up to my potential. Thus, feeling a little guilty. Have you ever felt like this?

What happens with passivity is all too common. Have you heard, "lets just chill dude, we'll practice tomorrow." This is a mistake. Bands on tour (and this is just common sense) or bands in the studio are doing it right now this very minute. What makes you think that you don't have to practice right now? Somebody else is so if you wanna get going, then get going. Stop reading and pick up your instrument. You will be happy after you've gotten your session in for the day, especially if it's an aggressive one. Aggression is inherent. It is a necessary part of my life and my daily activities. If I'm not feeling aggressive I'm not feeling alive.


Be Aggressive about your songs. Pay attention to every detail, every measure, every note every word and every snare and hi hat along with every other part of your band or composition. Make sure you don't leave anything out. Record them on a device and listen to yourself constantly for feedback. Ask friends for feedback (but) be wary of bullsh-t. Be aggressive about getting songs done.

I'll leave you with a great line from a great movie: "I Finish Things." Clint Eastwood in "Gran Turino."

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About the Author:Mike Socarras a solo artist and guitar teacher. I teach guitar lessons in the Miami, Fl area and if you would like to know more about music and playing guitar you can visit my site above. Check out my other articles below.

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