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Give us your one best practice tip!


colder
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If you could offer the Guitar Gathering family one practice tip, which one would you offer? What tip has helped you the most to advance your playing? What do you wish someone would have told you when you're just starting out? 

I'll go first.


For me, the ultimate practice tip was that if I can't play something, go slower and slower until you can play it perfectly. Don't be afraid of going turtle slow for a while. Then repeat and repeat, gradually increasing tempo with every few successes. It's so hard to play slowly sometimes! It can really help and save a lot of frustration. 

That was the best tip I received early on: Speed is a by-product of accuracy. 

 

So what one tip would you give the newbies of the world?

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I agree with you Colder and Randy.  For me, it's been playing first thing in the day before work.  Just pick it up and play, don't procrastinate.  Too many things come up after work.  I do play after work some, but it's for fun and to relax, not learning new techniques like in the morning.  Guitar and coffee, great start to the day.

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Here are some tips from John Knowles' session at the Fall Fingerstyle Retreat that I found to be helpful:

  • Every time you learn to do something, learn how to do it somewhere else.
  • Your best work happens when you are working in areas where you 60% know and 40% can’t do yet (this is where adventure happens).

  • Each one of us has a different tolerance for being confused.

  • When I’m working too hard, I put it down and play something I know how to play.

  • When you are learning, there is exploration, new technique, musicality, tempo, and expression (you can’t think of all these things at once).

  • It never has bothered me that I can’t do it YET!

  • Tomorrow I will be closer – don’t be discouraged by the barriers.

  • There is no destination, only so far – so far – so far – so far – then they write your obit.

  • Set modest goals and celebrate.

  • Need patience, need to love it, and curiosity.
  • I play what I love and work on what I can't do yet.

  • Chet Atkins (in response to someone saying ‘that looked easy’): ‘It didn’t use to be.'
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Know your enemy.

Writer Steven Pressfield gives it a name: Resistance. It is the dark force of distraction, procrastination, rationalization, evasion, ego, perfectionism, and judgment. It unfailingly appears whenever we seek to improve ourselves or pursue a noble ambition, and its only purpose is to destroy our calling. We ignore it at our peril.

The sword and armor we take up daily against this beast is discipline. Professionalism. Doing the work for its own sake. Paying the price, out of respect for our craft. If you want to understand what you’re really up against, listen to Pressfield.

Edited by DianeB
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Those books look good, Diane.....just read the excerpts on your amazon links.  I will look them over on my next trip to the library, and resist the urge to read in the morning instead of playing guitar!

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I used to love practicing in the morning too, I need to get back in that habit! Great way to start the day. 

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Unless you can do it with a metronome, You don't really have a handle on in.

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I would like to suggest finding a friend to practice with, be it daily, weekly or monthly. Most of the time I practice alone and I enjoy that, but practicing with others brings in another element of the learning process. Together you exchange different ideas, improve timing and strumming styles.

Henk

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Wow!  All great tips.  And great idea for a thread @colder.  And since you took what I think is the best one, " the ultimate practice tip was that if I can't play something, go slower and slower until you can play it perfectly", I'll fall back to my second choice.

Have a plan for the practice day.   A written, documented, stare you in the face, "What Am I Going To Work On Today" plan.  We have to work on what is fun and that should be part of the plan.  But, as Randy said above, get stuff in the plan that makes you struggle and improve.  Get it out of the way.  Then reward yourself and have fun.

I don't know how well you'll be able to see it.  Here is a "screen scrape" of my plan today:

practice061418.thumb.jpg.1eb25725d983e7cc71eeb704f3135ab0.jpg

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Great tips!  My best tip is to "step out of your daily routine" and unplug.  Lose the laptop, cellphone, and TV and focus on the task of learning to play the guitar.  Once there, simplify the hard parts by working on them until they are not hard.  Then move on to the next hardest part.  Soon, you can play that song or run scales using pull-off and hammer-ons with little difficulty.  Put in the work and good results will follow.  CAUTION:  Be patient and enjoy the ride knowing you probably won't become the next "guitar god"...but the pleasure and joy it will bring you is worth the effort.  ?

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Best tip is to play with others, it helps you keep time, you'll learn other techniques, find new music and most of all have fun.  I have a jam group every Thursday and a variety of people show up, that's the beauty of it, never know who's going to be there. Anywhere from 4 to 21 (that was way too many:).  Check in your area online search for bluegrass jams....don't worry many of them take most types of music, (but not all).  Check them out, you'll know where you fit.  Remember most musicians want to help you on your journey, you don't have to be the best.  I walked into this jam 10 years ago, with all my music in tow....now I know 103 songs without music and they taught me how to sing out.  Best thing I ever did, also keeps me wanting to practice to bring in a new tune.  Have fun!!

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for all the great tips everyone, I'm going to try making one of those spreadsheets. My practices tend to get a little... umm... free-form at times ?

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