The Secret to Guitar Success, Muscle Memory

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When you practice do you feel like things are really difficult or almost impossible to play? Are other people just more naturally talented than you? Do you really try but can’t really improve playing guitar?

There are real specific answers to each and every playing problem you have. There are concepts that need to be understood mentally before they can be applied physically. I see my guitar students applying these concepts and coming back into a lesson with great results. If we don’t see improvement we won’t want to practice, that’s not a fun feeling

I’ve been there and done that. When I learned how top pros practice and saw myself getting better all the time, I made time to practice. It’s kind of like weight lifting you start feeling stronger and see some muscle coming out then you want to work out more. Or jogging when you can start running a mile or so it feels good. You’ll want to do more of it.

Now, what is it that we need to know? First of all, make sure you have a guitar instructor and that he not only shows you how to do something but really teaches you how to go and practice it in a step by step in a methodical result producing way! This is critical.

One concept guitar pros use is to break something into small parts that are easily learn-able, so you repeat the part with no tension and without tapping your foot, or playing to a metronome or to a recording.

Don’t try to play songs start to finish. Like a jigsaw puzzle put the pieces together and then you’ll see the full picture. If it’s a guitar lick from a song then just take a few notes at a time and really be focused on where the notes are, on what fret and string, using the same fingers each time, getting the right rhythm of the notes.

Get some type of software or player that can slow down songs. If you’re working on the chords of a song and feel like you’re getting them moving smoothly. Try to play along with the recording at 50 or 60 per cent. With this software you can have the recording meet you at whatever level you’re at and then start bringing it up in speed.

What’s great about this is if you start at 60 per cent and that pretty comfortable. Maybe in a couple days try it a 65 or 70. As long as you can comfortably keep up then that’s the speed that you should play at. Just take your time and work it up to 100 per cent.

You can do the same thing with solos and licks and don’t forget that you loop a section. Maybe that solo is 15 seconds long, you can repeat it over and over very slowly to hear what they are playing. You’re able to measure your improvement by per cent. Many times I used to try and play from the start with the recording at normal speed with slow down software and of course couldn’t do it, would get frustrated and give up.

This software is like someone starting a walking program, then jogging to running marathon’s. You wouldn’t go out and try to run a marathon, you’re not ready yet. Same thing with many songs are just too fast to keep up depending at what level you’re at. With this software you can have the song meet you where you can play it comfortably.

We need to develop Muscle memory, which is “correct” repetition of a movement until it’s automatic. We play it as slow as it takes to play it right every time. This a key critical concept. This physical motion takes a lot of repetition at a slow speed until the muscles and tendons and nerves are trained.

Only then do you start to go just a little faster but keep it all controlled and right movements. If you frequently make mistakes when you are practicing then you are practicing to make mistakes and you will be guaranteed to make mistakes when you perform.

Whether for yourself, your teacher or in front of a thousand people. You will be placing a file on the hard drive of your brain to definitely play some wrong things. How you practice will determine how you perform. Many guitar students spend a lot of money and time but don’t get a good return, some quit and sell their equipment.

I am a guitar teacher that teaches these concepts and see that any student that uses them regularly gets big results fast. You could have the guitar in your hands a couple hours a day and not make any real progress. 15 to 20 minutes of playing the correct chords or notes in the correct way is better than practicing for a couple hours of attempting to play songs or solos start to finish and not really getting the parts of the whole correctly and consistently.

When you see a great player play something with ease and you can’t play it, it’s because he is playing it differently than you. He’s taken the time to play slowly and precisely with very few mistakes until he speeds it up and with a minimum of tension.

If he played the same way you are playing it he wouldn’t be able to pull it off either. I suggest taking this article and writing out the key concepts you need to improve and put them in your practice area where you can see them and start applying them., You are guaranteed a different result with the right method!

Keep playing and have fun,

Sid

Sid