The Art Of Practicing: How To See Real Results

The art of practice is a huge subject and musicians have written complete books on it. But I do believe the real success starts with clear thinking.

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I have always believed that success, in practically any subject you can think of, is a direct result of "clear thinking". That is, the ability to understand very clearly what needs to be achieved and the action to set about surmounting very necessary hurdles in order to reach those goals. Less than successful people are either not clear in their goals or for one reason or another give up along the way. It's leveling that rough terrain, along with a clearly defined end result in mind that will get you there in the end. The success roadmap might go something like this:

Visualize goal => Surmount problems => Score

Sounds simple doesn't it? However, this clear thinking is all very well but it's usually the thought required before step 1 (visualization) that causes problems. Very often the goal does not manifest in mind because the process is so overwhelming.

And so it is with practicing the guitar, or any instrument for that matter. In more laymen's terms it's more like "What the hell should I be practicing?".

Practice is a constant struggle for many people. There is so much to learn and often so little time to allocate to it. For the jazz musician, clear thinking can be as simple as "I really like that Charlie Parker 2, 5 - how does he do that?". Then transcribing the line, practicing it in all keys and working the phrase into your own vocabulary. The 'score' as I like to call it is the ability to work it in to your own playing. I want to talk a little about that in a minute.

First, I think the most important thing to talk about is how to make best use of your practice time. There was a time when I started playing where I used to sit in my room and allocate 15 minutes to practicing scales and arpeggios, 10 minutes on technique exercises, 20 minutes on sight reading and 1/2 an hour on practicing my classical guitar repertoire. Why? because my teacher told me I had to. Years later once I started to study jazz guitar on my own I didn't feel the need to be practicing this way. It wasn't really benefiting me fully. I started to have my own goals in mind that I wanted to reach. I wanted to learn to play like one or two of my heroes, but more importantly because I liked what they played. Even more under the microscope were certain melodic lines and licks that tweaked my ear and fueled me to transcribe or simply copy the way they phrased or 'felt' a phrase. Once I clearly had in mind what I wanted to achieve I could go about achieving it - I knew what I had to do.

It's important to sit down to practice and be really clear about what you are going to do during that practice time. Now, one thing that helped me tremendously was when I made a huge commitment to scheduled practicing. In other words, deciding that every single day, no matter what, I would sit down and dedicate exactly one hour to working at this instrument. The amazing thing I found is that my regularly scheduled practice literally fueled my regularly scheduled practice! Does this make sense? What this means is that, the more I practiced, the more I wanted to practice. What started out as a committed hour turned into committed six hour sessions. Once I got into music college in London I remember waking up in the morning and practicing until I went to bed at night, remembering to eat on occasion. I was so fueled by the commitment to practice that the drive to play took over completely.

Regular practice clearly keeps your guitar technique on tip top form. There's nothing like picking up the guitar and playing a few short runs and being on top of your game, simply because you are playing regularly.

The other wonderful thing about committing to regular practice is that it actually helps you to think much more clearly, because you start to see results. Once you start to see results the concept of learning is much less overwhelming and you are able to make decisions about what you want to work on much more easily.

So do yourself a huge favor, first, make the decision to want to get much better at your guitar playing. Then once you have decided that, make a clear commitment right now and allocate a certain time of day to your guitar practice. If you only have limited time then give yourself what you know you can afford. Once you get your teeth into this system, if you don't have more time, trust me you will want to find more time. You might just want to wake up earlier. The drive to learn will take over.

Quality practice is key. I find now I am older that, if I let myself, I can get more and more distracted because there are so many other facets to my life. When I make the decision to focus 100% on my guitar problems and how I can surmount them, I find I can get completely absorbed for hours once I get going. Sometimes it helps to avoid those distractions from the outset. Maybe turn the phone off!

There is a huge difference between playing the guitar and practicing the guitar. I can play for days quite happily but am I learning anything new? Not unless I stop myself and work on my weaknesses. And there are plenty of those trust me! Many years ago I wanted to learn licks from my favorite players. I would hear a line and transcribe it. Many times I found that those musical phrases would not come out in my playing and I asked myself why. It dawned on me that there were three possible reasons:

01. I found the phrase too technically difficult to pull off. 02. It just didn't feel like it belonged in my vocabulary. 03. I hadn't fully explored the idea enough - perhaps I didn't fully understand how to use it in a practical sense.

Let's talk about these briefly.

Sometimes a horn line does not necessarily fit under the fingers on the guitar. The line might sound just terrific on a sax but if I can't play it on my guitar it's not going to have the same effect. In fact quite the opposite! Everyone is somewhat limited technically (although there are a few players that keep my head scratching I must admit!), every player has a ceiling in their own mind and I think it's perfectly OK to let some things go because they are just two gymnastic on the guitar. It's of course relative to each player's ability and comfort zone.

Occasionally I'll try and work something into my music vocabulary and it just doesn't feel like me. Some players sound great playing certain things and when I play them them they either sound too much like that other great player or I just don't feel it. Music has to be personal, it's OK to weed out stuff that you don't want to use, even when those 'weeds' are a rose garden to others.

The last idea is something very important I think. That is the idea that when you work on some new vocabulary or a new harmonic idea, that you fully understand how to use it and just as importantly, how to work it into your playing so it comes out naturally. Let's assume you are transcribing a lick on a CD you like. The first thing to do is to make sure you get the notes right. You might slow it down (there is plenty of software on the market that enables you to do this now). Whatever it takes, make sure the notes you are transcribing are correct. Then it is a matter of practicing that phrase so it feels good when you play it.

Now most folks stop right there and wonder why the phrase never shows up in their playing. The secret is to figure out exactly what chord (or group of chords) is being played underneath that line. After that, figure out what other chords could also be played underneath that phrase. Next, learn how to play that phrase everywhere on the fretboard, in different positions and keys. Finally and the most important, work the phrase into your own playing. To do this, start by improvising in any way that you normally might and focus on ways to connect that new phrase you want to play. The new phrase starts on a certain note and you will need to focus on that starting note in order to make a connection to it. Practice improvising freely and connecting to that new phrase, focusing on its starting note. Do this in all keys. Pretty soon you will know if the phrase is going to come out into your playing or not.

The art of practice is a huge subject and musicians have written complete books on it. But I do believe the real success starts with clear thinking. Make a decision to focus on something specific. Here is a more detailed roadmap to take on board:

01. Visualize. What do you want to work on - what do you want to achieve? 02. Plan. What exactly do you have to do in order to achieve that goal? 03. Action. Explore the subject in enough detail. 04. Surmount. Expect problems along the way - this is normal - don't give up! Just level the terrain. 05. Score - making sure that the subject is fully absorbed and part of your new musical make up, unless you decide otherwise.

Great players really got to grips with practicing in the early stages. It became fascinating to them and the results they saw fueled more practice. It's a self perpetuating phenomenon. By simply not practicing, the incentive to pick up your instrument diminishes over time. Then the excuses start to pour out in torrents. Then regrets. Then a very dusty guitar possibly in a dark attic somewhere.

Get practicing. Quality practice. Ask yourself questions. Look for the answers. Insist on results. This is the key to improving.

Chris Standring is an international jazz recording artist and educator. For more info about him and his highly acclaimed home study guitar course please visit GuiitarMadeSimple.com

53 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sinforsale
    1st methinks you just wrote a huge wall of words, just to get this message down. "Practice Makes perfect"
    Dvnc
    for yur last question, if u know the right "other" notes to use, than u could go outside the solo "box", but only if u know the right notes to play outside of the main 12 notes of, say, pentatonic scales. last thing , practice pentatonic scales all over the neck as they are the key to soloing in just about any genre. if u r doing lead, make sure u can easily play pentatonic scales, because they r soooo easy to improvise with.
    burndttoast
    While I do agree with your article, I have to say that sometimes practice will not get you to the point where you want to be- i.e. perfection, or near perfection. Yes, practicing and doing all the other things like making a plan and such will get you better, but sometimes you got to face that fact that you can't do it. Excuse me if I sound like a Debby Downer, that was not my point of this comment. Just thought I'd share how I feel about this.
    XStatutoryXApeX
    im not gonna lie to all of you guys... i really think this article is probably one of the best articles of read... i agree practice does make perfect... and i think if you practice enough you will eventually make it to perfection... or at least near it... think back to when you first started playing... you probably sucked pretty bad... after youve been playing for a while... as long as youve practiced (hmm... that word just keeps coming up doesn't it? haha) you show massive amounts of improvement
    chris_libby_88
    worosei wrote: heres a problem i have: eg. goal: to shred like a speed king, plan: take out one of malmsteens ridiculous arpeggio's from hell, play slowly (paying attention to articulation/legato etc...), slowly building up speed using a metronome, reality: it for some reason never gets there. one's fingers says they know the pattern, Its an arpeggio - it becomes not too difficult legato - takes a while, but managable... You still cant hear the piece, playing it slow sounds crap. So... Push the speed up - ok.. It sounds kindaish... maybe its a distortion thing...no it ends up sounding like noise now... work again on the speed and you make small progress thinking that perhaps it will start to sound like that tricky fast part... then BAM! When one's brain says to play faster yet again, it doesnt work, everything falls to pieces, my right hand cant pick fast enough, my left hand cant move fast enough, there is no such thing as legato, i get frustrated, i give up. where do u go from there?
    dude....duuude...ur obviosly not usuing your metronome correctly. what i do is find a comfortable speed where i can play almost flawlessly. i get it where i can play perfectly 9 out of 10 times then i increase the speed by 5 or 10 bps(as u get faster ull only be forced to increase by smaller and smaller increments)....i continue this process until i get it up to the disired speed
    Pyro_TheVampire
    For all those people who don't know what to practise, well let me tell you that scales are a good place to start if you want to learn solos and how to improvise. Start with the A major and A minor scales, then move on to the pentatonic A major and A minor scales. Once you master them, you can then move the scale up and down the fret board to change the key of the scale. Oh, i suggest that you learn cords to. Then you can have a basic knowledge of what exactly is happening when the notes dont sound right.
    Pyro_TheVampire
    BTW, CalgaryMetal i suggest using the program GuitarPro. Its really easy to use and uses both tabs and notation. Although the program costs, the sheet music can be found right here on UG.
    leadgtr
    koh132001 wrote: I had no instructor, no professional guidance, and I don't bother to buy guitar books and etc..., I started out with the acoustic guitar since I was 12. And man when I was back then in my Country, it was very hard to buy an electric guitar. I mean if you have money of course you can buy but majority kids can't afford it and there is no retail guitar shops or export pickup and stuff also in th capital city. We only got hand made local acoustic guitars with crappy copper wire like strings, and playing those guitar hurt the fingers like hell. So I played for like 3 months after my dad bought me one of those guitar when i was 12 and never bother to practice and rarely play although I can play a few songs and can maintain the basic chords as my older brothers taught me how to play in basic stuff. Their playing styles were reckless, strumming were hard, picking were nearly cut the strings and the sound of crappy guitar were quite annoying compare to teenagers from other countries' playing styles. When I turned out 14, I start interested in playing guitar and songs once again. Couz although we live in capital city and studying in one of the gr8 high school in our country, the only way to get girls' attention is the guys who can sing and play guitar very well, at that time. So I once again start kicking and practicing the songs with my old crappy hollow guitar. And after high school, I still on playing guitar and keep on practicing whenever I get a chance, followed the local rock, blues and punk music stream. I remembered that old crappy guitar gave me 2 cuts and many minor scratches to my hand and fingers by just practicing and to impress girls at school back there. After all my complete catastrophic start off of playing guitar I realize that practicing is important mainly in basic stuff when you were a noob, for me I categorized into 3 main stages of barrier according from my experience. 1st Stage is noob stage, it include understanding the basic of the basic and fundamental and after that there is nothing to worry about. There is no short cut by just buying the guitar, playing malmsteen songs by all means. you will definitely lost in somewhere and want to give up guitar sooner or later. So you have to overcome the noob stage first. 2nd stage is where most of us getting lost and frustrated sometimes. Couz getting into the basic understanding of those techniques and skills, fret flows, catching the speed, using different kinds of picks, different tunings, different music styles, there are many stuff. But my advice is to follow only what you like most and just try to understand overall in other methods and techniques. Couz u don't have time to follow many stuff but to get to the point is the main priority. And the secret is always try to explore and play new things by yourself, just be creative. You don't have to play exactly the same. Try jazz to rock n roll mode. Try punk into metal riff. It is so much fun and after all you will get what you want and your own technique. I do practicing pentatonic boxes, arpeggios, technical death metal sequence and trash solos with many different styles and tunning. So after exploring the different music styles and try to find the creative one for yourself. You will catch up more fast and understand the whole fretboard, chords, keys and tunning. It took me 1 year to find out the secret of all and those bunch of techniques by myself. After overcome this stage you are home free, my friend. 3rd stage is to become one of those who make their own masterpiece and wrote down the history of rock. So you will probably get what I mean. And I do still kicking crap out of myself and I am still in pre 3rd stage but I think it will take for a while for me to get there. I am now 21 and I can now play fast solos, arpeggios, shredding and even classical craps. Malmsteen, slash, eric, jimmy, matt havey u name it u got it. For me, I don't take things too seriously and practicing according to the schedule or follow by the book. But I do enjoy playing guitar for more or less 4 hr a day. I just follow my intention, inspiration, instinct and mainly my dream focus on to becoming and getting my own true signature sound. My inspirations are mainly on many kind of metal music and I just try to learn and practice on what I like. I don't follow lessons or other guides couz I don't want to be someone or look like copy cat, so I just striking my own way out. I practice on mainly the songs I like or feels like I want to try it out. And I practice 4 hr every night. I can get the complete copy of trivium songs by just practicing 1 day in that 4hr, couz if you like or inspire something that you believe all you have to do is follow. And after the barriers you will understand how easy practicing is and its really fun, so don't push yourself and rush things up or give it up, just keep it going steady with full of willingness.
    jozzer
    worosei wrote: heres a problem i have: eg. goal: to shred like a speed king, plan: take out one of malmsteens ridiculous arpeggio's from hell, play slowly (paying attention to articulation/legato etc...), slowly building up speed using a metronome, reality: it for some reason never gets there. one's fingers says they know the pattern, Its an arpeggio - it becomes not too difficult legato - takes a while, but managable... You still cant hear the piece, playing it slow sounds crap. So... Push the speed up - ok.. It sounds kindaish... maybe its a distortion thing...no it ends up sounding like noise now... work again on the speed and you make small progress thinking that perhaps it will start to sound like that tricky fast part... then BAM! When one's brain says to play faster yet again, it doesnt work, everything falls to pieces, my right hand cant pick fast enough, my left hand cant move fast enough, there is no such thing as legato, i get frustrated, i give up. where do u go from there?
    u learn something that will make you improve, but is also possible for you to play. If u go from playin chords to playin malmsteen then there is bound to be problems. Try something easier first
    worosei
    thanks guys, i've decided that i'll stay persistent as i guess if everyone says its possible, it must be... and yeah - i kinda forgot the fact that most of the famous guitarists are famous for a reason and that i really should not be expecting to play that well in an accellerated time. Ok onto another question; learning your scales. The idea is to learn the scale at every position on the fretboard right? And is it more important for me to learn the 'pattern' of the scale (and is that bad), or knowing the actual notes and where they fit on the fretboard (so that if u get in a pickle you can jump to another position)? Im guessing its the latter as its the harder thing to do... Last question, how important should having the same fingering be? is it bad to interchange your fingering (if you're not using a different position) when playing a scale/solo or does changing it somehow help?
    Dvnc
    worosei wrote: thanks guys, i've decided that i'll stay persistent as i guess if everyone says its possible, it must be... and yeah - i kinda forgot the fact that most of the famous guitarists are famous for a reason and that i really should not be expecting to play that well in an accellerated time. Ok onto another question; learning your scales. The idea is to learn the scale at every position on the fretboard right? And is it more important for me to learn the 'pattern' of the scale (and is that bad), or knowing the actual notes and where they fit on the fretboard (so that if u get in a pickle you can jump to another position)? Im guessing its the latter as its the harder thing to do... Last question, how important should having the same fingering be? is it bad to interchange your fingering (if you're not using a different position) when playing a scale/solo or does changing it somehow help?
    its best to get used to the fingering of the scale in a spot of the neck yur comfortable with, because once u can play a scale in one place on the neck u can play it anywhere! Also, u can solo to anysong if u know what chords they r playing by soloing on the same fret as the first finger of the chord or starting 3 frets down. i learned this yesterday and it is the most important tip ever for lead guitar, no exaggerating!
    Dvnc
    for example, if u know a song is in g, then you can start yur pentatonic on the 3rd fret or u can play it starting with an open low E. u could also play it on the 12th fret or the 15th, since they r the same but an octave higher. Clear as mud, right?
    loserboyjay
    seems to me that it works best this way: Begin by leaning simple songs. Practice them until you can play them in your sleep. Then move to more difficult songs. This will establish your "feel" for playing the guitar. After learning more and more difficult songs then you will be ready to begin learning scales/theory/new techniques ect. But this is at a more advanced level. And if you begin by simply learning songs that you like note for note, by the time you try to study techniques independently, you will find that you have already learned quite a bit! Never say that you don't know what to practice. Just learn a new song.
    orangepick
    make sure you dont just like play for 20 minutes here or there throughout the day... like when you play play for 3 hours straight it really gets your fingers into a great swing and generates extremely creative riffs this method is great for writing original songs
    CobenBlack
    worosei wrote: heres a problem i have: eg. goal: to shred like a speed king, plan: take out one of malmsteens ridiculous arpeggio's from hell, play slowly (paying attention to articulation/legato etc...), slowly building up speed using a metronome, reality: it for some reason never gets there. one's fingers says they know the pattern, Its an arpeggio - it becomes not too difficult legato - takes a while, but managable... You still cant hear the piece, playing it slow sounds crap. So... Push the speed up - ok.. It sounds kindaish... maybe its a distortion thing...no it ends up sounding like noise now... work again on the speed and you make small progress thinking that perhaps it will start to sound like that tricky fast part... then BAM! When one's brain says to play faster yet again, it doesnt work, everything falls to pieces, my right hand cant pick fast enough, my left hand cant move fast enough, there is no such thing as legato, i get frustrated, i give up. where do u go from there?
    a date with a length of rope and a wonky stool? haha just joking. i know your point though, trust me i know. i suppose to be honest if your going to do something that fast and that requires that much time and effort, maybe you should just do your own thing and speed it up?
    not_dead_enough
    Great article, gives us something to think about. But something people gotta remember is that practising guitar should ultimately be fun. Unless you are a professional studio musician DO NOT let playing guitar become a routine or a chore. You have to want to practice; if you really don't wanna practice you can't train yourself to want to. Why I ultimately picked up the guitar was to have fun. I'm completely self-taught and am an advocate for it, its the best way to keep it fun and relevant to your own goals (as opposed to the opinion of some teacher who chances are likes different music to you and has a different idea as to 'what makes a good guitar player'). Showing your friends that you can play the intro to Sweet Home Alabama, Seven Nation Army or Enter Sandman a week after buying a guitar is far more impressive than showing them Smoke on the Water and a bunch of boring chords or scales your teacher taught you. I agree that learning theory can only make you better and all the best players know the balance between theory and their own 'feel', but, like someone mentioned above, learning theory and a routine after a year of self-practice is far more productive than learning theory before ever playing a note. The author of this article is correct in everything mentioned. But just remember guys and girls, have fun too!
    psycodonk
    i like what this guy says! im gonna start setting some goals for myself. allocate times for them. and work on them.
    Colchester91
    I usually just read the first paragraph of these kinda things and scrap it. This was completely different and was really insightful. Thank you.
    Do Re Mi
    Sinforsale wrote: 1st methinks you just wrote a huge wall of words, just to get this message down. "Practice Makes perfect"
    Yes, but if you're practicing the wrong way and the wrong things, it just makes you perfect at playing badly. Practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the right way makes you good.
    micksbiggestfan
    guitarfreak042 wrote: what shud i practice?
    This goes to everyone. Practice something that makes you happy. If it doesn't give you a warm feeling or help you achieve something that does, DON'T DO IT! Don't make playing an instrument a chore.
    SMoD
    guitarfreak042 wrote: what shud i practice?
    -take something you've written and play it faster and faster -then take something you hate playing and play it over and over (it will help trust me) -learn songs you like
    SMoD
    micksbiggestfan wrote: guitarfreak042 wrote: what shud i practice? This goes to everyone. Practice something that makes you happy. If it doesn't give you a warm feeling or help you achieve something that does, DON'T DO IT! Don't make playing an instrument a chore.
    I disagree...you should play what makes you happy...but playing other things form new tecniques (sp?) and habits and new ways of approaching music
    koh132001
    I had no instructor, no professional guidance, and I don't bother to buy guitar books and etc..., I started out with the acoustic guitar since I was 12. And man when I was back then in my Country, it was very hard to buy an electric guitar. I mean if you have money of course you can buy but majority kids can't afford it and there is no retail guitar shops or export pickup and stuff also in th capital city. We only got hand made local acoustic guitars with crappy copper wire like strings, and playing those guitar hurt the fingers like hell. So I played for like 3 months after my dad bought me one of those guitar when i was 12 and never bother to practice and rarely play although I can play a few songs and can maintain the basic chords as my older brothers taught me how to play in basic stuff. Their playing styles were reckless, strumming were hard, picking were nearly cut the strings and the sound of crappy guitar were quite annoying compare to teenagers from other countries' playing styles. When I turned out 14, I start interested in playing guitar and songs once again. Couz although we live in capital city and studying in one of the gr8 high school in our country, the only way to get girls' attention is the guys who can sing and play guitar very well, at that time. So I once again start kicking and practicing the songs with my old crappy hollow guitar. And after high school, I still on playing guitar and keep on practicing whenever I get a chance, followed the local rock, blues and punk music stream. I remembered that old crappy guitar gave me 2 cuts and many minor scratches to my hand and fingers by just practicing and to impress girls at school back there. After all my complete catastrophic start off of playing guitar I realize that practicing is important mainly in basic stuff when you were a noob, for me I categorized into 3 main stages of barrier according from my experience. 1st Stage is noob stage, it include understanding the basic of the basic and fundamental and after that there is nothing to worry about. There is no short cut by just buying the guitar, playing malmsteen songs by all means. you will definitely lost in somewhere and want to give up guitar sooner or later. So you have to overcome the noob stage first. 2nd stage is where most of us getting lost and frustrated sometimes. Couz getting into the basic understanding of those techniques and skills, fret flows, catching the speed, using different kinds of picks, different tunings, different music styles, there are many stuff. But my advice is to follow only what you like most and just try to understand overall in other methods and techniques. Couz u don't have time to follow many stuff but to get to the point is the main priority. And the secret is always try to explore and play new things by yourself, just be creative. You don't have to play exactly the same. Try jazz to rock n roll mode. Try punk into metal riff. It is so much fun and after all you will get what you want and your own technique. I do practicing pentatonic boxes, arpeggios, technical death metal sequence and trash solos with many different styles and tunning. So after exploring the different music styles and try to find the creative one for yourself. You will catch up more fast and understand the whole fretboard, chords, keys and tunning. It took me 1 year to find out the secret of all and those bunch of techniques by myself. After overcome this stage you are home free, my friend. 3rd stage is to become one of those who make their own masterpiece and wrote down the history of rock. So you will probably get what I mean. And I do still kicking crap out of myself and I am still in pre 3rd stage but I think it will take for a while for me to get there. I am now 21 and I can now play fast solos, arpeggios, shredding and even classical craps. Malmsteen, slash, eric, jimmy, matt havey u name it u got it. For me, I don't take things too seriously and practicing according to the schedule or follow by the book. But I do enjoy playing guitar for more or less 4 hr a day. I just follow my intention, inspiration, instinct and mainly my dream focus on to becoming and getting my own true signature sound. My inspirations are mainly on many kind of metal music and I just try to learn and practice on what I like. I don't follow lessons or other guides couz I don't want to be someone or look like copy cat, so I just striking my own way out. I practice on mainly the songs I like or feels like I want to try it out. And I practice 4 hr every night. I can get the complete copy of trivium songs by just practicing 1 day in that 4hr, couz if you like or inspire something that you believe all you have to do is follow. And after the barriers you will understand how easy practicing is and its really fun, so don't push yourself and rush things up or give it up, just keep it going steady with full of willingness.
    athlete1
    Lol.I just practice four or more hours a day. I really don't do all this.
    rafinski
    Hmm that is some good advice... and it could be used for other things than just the guitar. I think I would definitely use this method, having an idea of where to go and what to practice always helps me, and I always get better when I know what I should play
    Inf1n1tY.
    This is the way everyone should NATURALLY come to if he/she really WANTS to play guitar. if someone doesnt know what he should practise then he has no goals ---> so, find your goals or u'll fail @guitarfreak042
    ortrigger
    Sinforsale wrote: you just wrote a huge wall of words, just to get this message down. "Practice Makes perfect"
    practice does'nt make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect performance. you have to learn it perfectly to play it perfectly.
    The Spoon
    guitarfreak042 wrote: yea but i dont know what to practice
    then you my friend need a goal. Set a goal, otherwise you're like a boat in the ocean with no destination yo
    worosei
    heres a problem i have: eg. goal: to shred like a speed king, plan: take out one of malmsteens ridiculous arpeggio's from hell, play slowly (paying attention to articulation/legato etc...), slowly building up speed using a metronome, reality: it for some reason never gets there. one's fingers says they know the pattern, Its an arpeggio - it becomes not too difficult legato - takes a while, but managable... You still cant hear the piece, playing it slow sounds crap. So... Push the speed up - ok.. It sounds kindaish... maybe its a distortion thing...no it ends up sounding like noise now... work again on the speed and you make small progress thinking that perhaps it will start to sound like that tricky fast part... then BAM! When one's brain says to play faster yet again, it doesnt work, everything falls to pieces, my right hand cant pick fast enough, my left hand cant move fast enough, there is no such thing as legato, i get frustrated, i give up. where do u go from there?
    shadowvarns
    its a good article but the problem is that alot of us don't know what to practice. what type should you practice?
    lonesome mike
    worosei wrote: heres a problem i have: eg. goal: to shred like a speed king, plan: take out one of malmsteens ridiculous arpeggio's from hell, play slowly (paying attention to articulation/legato etc...), slowly building up speed using a metronome, reality: it for some reason never gets there. one's fingers says they know the pattern, Its an arpeggio - it becomes not too difficult legato - takes a while, but managable... You still cant hear the piece, playing it slow sounds crap. So... Push the speed up - ok.. It sounds kindaish... maybe its a distortion thing...no it ends up sounding like noise now... work again on the speed and you make small progress thinking that perhaps it will start to sound like that tricky fast part... then BAM! When one's brain says to play faster yet again, it doesnt work, everything falls to pieces, my right hand cant pick fast enough, my left hand cant move fast enough, there is no such thing as legato, i get frustrated, i give up. where do u go from there?
    take a break and do something non-guitar related, then go back to it later, OR do something else that you know you can do well to boost your confidence again. at least, thats what i do, and trust me, i do it alot, because i suck ass at everything
    UltimateG
    Yes, you have to continue to learn new things; if you don't know what to play, just start looking up tabs from the beatles or eric clapton or metallica, depending on your style. You have to continue to learn new things or it will get old and you will lose enthusiasm.
    mucaslooney
    I got this book from the guitar grimoire series (which i highly recomend) that has nothing but practice drills. Most of it is playing up and down hundreds of scales and playing 3 and 4 note coils and such. i'm sure it isn't as fun as playing malmsteen but it has certainly helped me increase my speed and accuracy. This guy is right though. if you don't have a destination you're trying to reach, you won't ever understand the journey.
    CalgaryMetal
    very good preception of things. I live in a motel with no cable t.v and almost nothing to do so i take out my guitar and practice for almost 4 hours from when I get home from school. Then i either flick on my 1 channel of CBC tv and whatch a hockey game or w/e then it gets me so pumped i go right back to playing again. I just cant stop. Yesterday i learn't the whole fretboards notes after what seemed like i could never memorize it. It only after you make an accomplishment that you relize that you can work on it and turn it into more. Like another good example is today in PE class we were asked to high jump. Last year i only made it to 1.35m and was dismayed today when i saw the shortest kid in the class make it. Instead of giving up we raised the bar and me and him competed till he ran out of steam at 1.4m and i continued on to 1.53m. life rocks! shred or die!
    CalgaryMetal
    one more question, does anyone know where i can get some good sheet music for free online? or do i have to buy books because i don't find tabs are very productive. I'd much rather read notation then tabs.
    Metal_Man666
    worosei wrote: heres a problem i have: eg. goal: to shred like a speed king, plan: take out one of malmsteens ridiculous arpeggio's from hell, play slowly (paying attention to articulation/legato etc...), slowly building up speed using a metronome, reality: it for some reason never gets there. one's fingers says they know the pattern, Its an arpeggio - it becomes not too difficult legato - takes a while, but managable... You still cant hear the piece, playing it slow sounds crap. So... Push the speed up - ok.. It sounds kindaish... maybe its a distortion thing...no it ends up sounding like noise now... work again on the speed and you make small progress thinking that perhaps it will start to sound like that tricky fast part... then BAM! When one's brain says to play faster yet again, it doesnt work, everything falls to pieces, my right hand cant pick fast enough, my left hand cant move fast enough, there is no such thing as legato, i get frustrated, i give up. where do u go from there?
    Do you use a metronome?
    worosei
    yes, else how do u know ur playing it properly to increase speed? it still just puts you off playing when you spend ages trying to learn a solo, but ending up being no closer to getting there than when you first start
    pigonfarm
    Try breaking it down into smaller pieces and work on increasing the speed of each smaller piece one at a time, until finally you can put it altogher.
    monster_inacup
    worosei, first of all put things into perspective. when yngwie malmsteen was 11 he dropped out of school and played guitar for 10hours a day figuring out classical pieces by ear. so you know around 3000 hours of guitar playing in one year. everyones got some catching up to do. If u wanna play like malmsteen the first thing id say is look at how he plays (duh). what the hell is that supposed to mean? a) look at his left hand, it looks like he could crush a childs skull with that thing. b) watch his pick technique. i would reccomend first of all taking the malmsteen style arpeggios or runs, playing them very slowly, but hard and strong, put alot of left hand effort in while at slow tempo. then when u try to increase the pace, relax a little this will help u play faster. (its the tried and tested classical method to fast playing) youll see when malmsteen plays, despite having the hands of a bear (with like 20 bracelets on as well!!!) he has the touch of a pansy when he wants to and if he wants to play really fast. how long have you been playing btw?
    pigonfarm wrote: Try breaking it down into smaller pieces and work on increasing the speed of each smaller piece one at a time, until finally you can put it altogher.
    a good way of doing this is take it backwards from the end. so say u have 4 bars u want to work on, do the 4th bar, then the 3rd and 4th, then 2nd 3rd 4th and so on until u can play it 1-4 (this helps me alot as it works on the transition from notes in lick, if its ridiculously fast u might want to break it down into semiquaver groups of 4)
    nrc141
    guitarfreak042 wrote: what shud i practice?
    first practice going to and from each of the major and minor chords (eg: A-B A-C A-D etc...then B-A B-C B-D and so on) that will help you gain chord changing speed. to work on your picking skills just practice going from string to string. E-A E-D E-G then A-E A-D etc. then for overall finger speed pick a scale and learn it forwards and backwards, left and right, and up and down. the key to all of this is to practice on a metronome starting out slow and then moving to a faster and faster tempo