Spotting problems in your playing is an important component of improving as a guitarist and musician. These problems are signs of what you need to improve on to become a better musician. This may seem like simple advice but it is a skill that needs to be developed. Sometimes it can be difficult to spot troubled areas in your playing for many different reasons. That is why it is important to have different techniques to help you spot problems and improve these areas of your playing.
When I talk about spotting troubled areas in your playing, I am not talking just about the mistakes that are obvious and noticeable. While these noticeable mistakes need to be taken care of, there are likely other mistakes in your playing that you may not notice. The mistakes that you are not noticing are the ones that may cause the most problems. These mistakes could be holding you back in your playing and you probably do not realize that there is a problem. Even though you may not notice these problems, it does not mean someone listening to your playing wont notice them. By fixing these more specific areas of your playing, it will separate you from many other guitarists!
The best way to spot troubled areas in your playing is by recording yourself. You do not need expensive recording equipment to use this technique effectively. Any recording software will work or if you want to go old school you can use a tape recorder. Listening to these recordings will easily allow you to take note of the problems in your playing. The reason it is important to record yourself is you can listen critically and spend as much time as you want listening to the recording. When you are playing, you are focused on your playing and cannot listen critically. You can notice obvious mistakes in your playing but you often will not be able to hear the less obvious mistakes. Just this technique of recording yourself can show some weaknesses that you could improve.
When you spot a troubled area, you need to make sure you spend time focusing on improving that area. Take whatever you are having problems with and repetitively practice it. Repetitive practice can usually help improve areas that you find difficult. It is important to just focus on the section that is giving you a problem. For example, if you are having trouble with one section of a song just practice that section repeatedly. Many students I have taught did not use this method until I showed them it. They usually will practice the whole song repeatedly and hope they will improve on the section that they found challenging. The problem with what they were doing was they were spending more time on the parts they knew well and not on the harder parts. When you isolate the problem and focus on improving it, it usually improves rapidly.
Practicing problem areas slowly is an important step for improving the problem. This is common advice among guitar teachers to students. The reason to practice slow is you want to develop muscle memory of correctly playing whatever you are having trouble with. Of course, you will not always stay at a slow tempo when practicing. Once you can play whatever is causing problems for you at a slow speed, correctly and consistently, then you can start increasing the speed. Normally, you want to gradually increase the speed up to the desired tempo. This allows the muscle memory to develop with the increased speeds. Focusing on practicing slowly and gradually increasing the speed will help get you to the point of easily playing what was giving you problems.
These techniques can be used to effectively help you improve as a guitarist and musician. More importantly, they should be used together in your practicing. Once you find a problem in your playing, isolate the area and practice it slowly, gradually increasing the speed. When you get to point that you think you are playing it pretty well, record yourself and make sure it sounds good. If it sounds good, congratulations and keep using these techniques to improve you playing!
About the Author
Dan Acheron is a guitarist, songwriter and instructor in St. Louis, MO. He specializes in hard rock and enjoys sharing his passion for music with others. His free newsletter includes practice and music tips that are not available anywhere else.