Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Guitar Practicing or Guitar Playing?

Author: Edward D. Kupler
Just because you're holding your guitar doesn't mean thatyou're playing it, and just because you're playing your guitardoesn't mean that you're practicing. There is a real differenceand it needs to be acknowledged if you want to improve yourlevel of playing skill. Some people say they have spent theentire day practicing their guitar when in reality, all they'vedone was sit in front of the TV all day eating cheesy poofs. Thesad thing is that they really do believe it was practicing sincethey had their guitar on their lap next to their cheesy poofsall day. Most of us know someone who does this and we may evenbe guilty ourselves.In order to truly improve your skills you really need to avoidany distractions, no TV, no food, no friends and no phone. Justyou, a guitar, an amp and maybe some reference materials.Speaking of amps, keep the distortion turned down. Remember,this is practice, not playing. The distortion will only hideyour mistakes. You need to hear your mistakes clearly so you cancorrect them.If you're a beginner you might want to practice basic guitar'>">guitarscales or guitar'>">guitarchords. Make sure you have the necessary reference materialhandy so you don't spend your time doing things wrong. Keep inmind that what you practice is reinforced so if you'repracticing your scales wrong, then you've not only wasted yourtime; you've also reinforced your mistakes.So what should you practice? Since I've never heard you play Ican't tell you what you need to improve on, but I can makesuggestions to make your practice more effective.Don't turn your amp up to 11 and play every solo you know. Thisis playing the guitar not practicing the guitar. It might be funand a great way to blow off some steam, but it won't improveyour skills.Don't let practice get stale. You need a variety of things tokeep your mind from wondering. Practice your scales for an hourthen work on chords or music theory. Mix it up. Just be sure notto over do any one area because you'll get bored and at thatpoint your practice won't be as effective.Don't just go through the motions. Part of a good practicesession is finding problems and figuring out solutions. Ifyou're having trouble fingering a particular chord, then analyzethe problem and try to find a solution. You might think thatyour fingers are to small or weak, when the reality is that youonly need to improve your technique. When I first learned tomake barre chords I had a rough time making all six stringssound clear. Now I can make them all sound clear with verylittle effort. I would also add that I don't believe my handstrength has much to do with it at all.Use a metronome when practicing. This will help you improve yourtiming and make everything sound better.Learn the basics first. If your beginning guitar you should knowand understand the basic relationship between chords and scales.This will help you to better understand the logic of the chordpatterns when you learn songs and what scale you should use tosolo over top of that particular chord pattern. Check out mylesson "Guit'>">Guitar Scales and Chord Triads" at "" for avisual reference that might help.Pick a time of day to practice when you feel most alert. Ifyou're groggy or unfocused, your practice efforts will becompromised. You might work better if you break up your practicesession into several times throughout the day. For example,maybe practice an hour in the morning and a couple hours in theevening. You know when you feel the most alert so take advantageof those times.Be prepared with things to work on. Don't just sit down andnoodle around for a couple of hours. Before you sit down youshould already know what you're going to work on. This will helpmaximize your time.About the author:Edward D Cupler is the owner of guitar/'>">guitar lessons Offering free guitar lessons to beginnersand advanced students. Ed is also the owner of

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