Okay, so we all at one time or another as guitarist have run across this song or part in a song that we just could not master. Now I strongly suggest you read some of the other articles on being relaxed when you play but also, there is lot more to it than just being relaxed. Basically, when you play a song, your first insticnt, which all of tend to do, is to try and run through the entire song, going full speed and up to tempo the first time we play it. Usually the end result of this is failure (not to mention it probably sounded like complete crap).
So how does one fight this, the answer is simple if you were to ask any musical professional: slow down. (But there has to be more than just slowing down, well there is, just wait.)
First, when you are about to begin to play, relaxation is key(suggested reading on this site: "Discover Your Discomfort" and "the Incredible Lightness). Make sure that you are completely comfortable in your surrounding and that your posture and everything "feels right."
Second, after step one (assuming you have the music in front of you), you should look over the entire piece so that you are not surprized by a chord or something you will trip over later. Then, it is time to start playing.
However, there are a few guidelines to follow when you begin this as well. 01. Do Not Try To Play The Song Up To Tempo.
Why you may ask? The human brain and our muscles use patterns and usually follow muscle memory. When you play a new song for the first time, you are actually creating new pathways and patterns in your brain and muscles. Do you really want to create wrong pathways by playing wrong notes and patterns on the first try, because you brain starts learning from the first time you do something and if you are doing it inncorrectly, you will create a stumbling block that you will have to go over and correct through tons of frustration later.
02. The First Couple Of Times Through A Song, Do Not For Any Reason Stop.
Stopping anywhere the first time is yet another pattern and muscle memory breaker. If you miss something, make a mental note of it but do not stop going. It will only aggrevate you later.
03. Listen To Yourself.
While still keeping in tune with how your body feels (ie are you comfortable), one must listen to how your instrument sounds. Are you out of tune? Does something somewhere in the song just "not sound right?" Do you like the way everything sounds or is something obviously off? This is where you have to confront yourself and be honest with yourself.
04. Section Practice.
After you have completed going through the piece at least once, it is time to catch those problem parts. When you go over them you should:
05. Now It Is Time For The Speed.
After you have practiced your piece and know it from playing it slowly and deliberately with all the self-discipline you had to muster. It is time to take it up a noch. This is where it is safe to start playing faster. If you happen to mess up on a certain part of song at this point, then you should go back and practice slowly those parts using the above guidelines and then try to take it just a bit faster.
I hope that with this article many of the guitarist out there will take a good, hard, long look at their playing and see if they are sabotaging themselves by trying to be speed demons. Take it easy and the speed will come to you. Chase it and she will flee, it is just like dating. Think about it.