August 10, 2021

the basic practice approach

You're Not "Practicing Guitar...you are doing  Motor Control Learning!

When you sit down to practice guitar, you are not really "practicing guitar". You are really trying to teach your fingers to make particular movements in a particular way that will produce the sounds we call music. In other words, you are engaged in the process of teaching your muscles new movements. This process has been studied scientifically.

Before playing the guitar is a musical activity, it is a physical activity. If your fingers cannot physically make the movements necessary to make notes on the guitar, there will be no music. If your fingers cannot make those movements easily, smoothly and with an overall feeling of relaxation and control, there will be no music. 

The process of teaching your muscles (including fingers) new movements is called "motor control learning".


The Laws of Motor Control Learning

As motor control learning was studied in the laboratory, certain fundamental laws or principles were discovered and verified by testing. The 2 most important laws are: 

  1. 1
    SLOWNESS: New movements must be learned extremely slowly, with great attention and a clear understanding of what the goals are. 
  2. 2
    FEEDBACK: The person practicing must know, clearly and with certainty, if they are actually making the right movements in the right way. If they are not, they must have immediate feedback on what is wrong and how to improve their next effort. 

If these laws are not followed, there will be little or no benefit or results from the time and effort we put in to practice. This is why so many people find it hard to make progress on guitar, and playing plateaus are the fate of so many players. 

Where You Go Wrong In Practicing Guitar

The fact is that

1. Most people do not know exactly what they need their fingers to do when they practice. 

2. They do not pay attention to what their fingers really are doing with each attempt they make. 

And it is more than fingers, as we have learned when I told you about the importance of whole body awareness. Most people don't know that their shoulders and other parts of their body are being held tense during every moment of practice. 

And they have no chance of knowing these things unless they practice slower, and with greater attention, than they have ever done before. That is why I designed a foolproof practice method that enables students to practice and achieve stunning and solid results ever time. 

It's called "The Basic Practice Approach".

WATCH: "WHY YOU SUCK AT GUITAR: YOU ALWAYS PRACTICE TOO FAST".  

Learning What "Slow" Means

We must practice slowly if we want to see results. But no one understands what "slow" means when it comes to practicing guitar. "The Basic Practice Approach" solves this problem. 

The Basic Practice Approach, because it used the metronome to determine the speed at which you practice, guarantees that you will make your movements slowly enough to have the full awareness of body and fingers you must have for effective practice.  

Anyone, including you, who understands and uses "The Basic Practice Approach" will have the ability to get good on guitar, and keep getting better.

JAMIE WITH PRINCIPLES

Here is the "Basic Practice Approach" from ..."The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar"

TOOL: THE BASIC PRACTICE APPROACH This is the practice approach that is to be used to teach the fingers new skills. It is very organized, and very effective. FOLLOW IT!

THINK! Review and increase your understanding of what you are about to do, how you are going to do it, and what your goals are. What notes, fingers, pick strokes, etc. are you going to use. Also, review what the main points of technique you should be focusing on as you do the exercise, or selected passage of music. Be clear on what your goal is; what you want to accomplish from the practice you are about to do. 

NO TEMPO:  Walk through the music, or a small part of it, and PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING. Go slow enough to make sure you are doing everything right. Go slow enough to make sure you are doing it with maximum relaxation and minimum effort and tension.

 SLOW TEMPO: Go from No Tempo to slow tempo practice. Start with the metronome on 60, and take 4 clicks per note. Make all the notes even time values in the beginning so that all movements are done at the same speed.

You will probably discover places that need more Posing and No Tempo Practice. During the 4 clicks you are waiting, prepare for the next move. Check to make sure everything is relaxed, and your fingers are in position waiting for the next note. Alternate between watching either the left hand or the right hand. Your ATTENTION and your INTENTION should be extremely powerful.

MOVE UP THE SPEEDS:  Do the passage at 80, with 4 clicks. Make the effort to be aware of everything. Then, work up with the metronome through the following speeds...

80 -4 clicks per note | 100 4 clicks per note | 60 2 clicks per note | 80 2 clicks per note | 100 2 clicks per note | 60 1 click per note | 80 1 click per note | 100 1 click per note

There is more to the Basic Practice Approach, but following this procedure as far as it is given here will give you better results than you have ever had before from your practice. 

To learn more about "The Basic Practice Approach" see "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar".

What did you think? I'd love to know your thoughts on this article, please leave a comment.

About the author 

Jamie Andreas

Jamie Andreas has one goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to learn guitar is successful. After her first 25 years of teaching, she wrote the world acclaimed method for guitar "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar". She put everything into this method that was essential for success on guitar. Called "The Holy Grail" of guitar books, the Principles has enabled thousands of students who tried and failed to play guitar for years or even decades, to become real guitar players. In 2012 Jamie was profiled in "Guitar Zero" (Penguin Press 2012), a study of how adults learn to play guitar. Jamie was interviewed along with some of the worlds leading guitarist/teachers, including jazz legend Pat Martino and Tom Morello ("Rage Against The Machine").

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  1. until i learned about slow practice ,i just beat songs to death until i forced into memory. but with slow practice and trying to learn to remain calm with no tension, they stick with you a whole lot better

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