Lessons In­tro­duc­tion

Ja­son Sid­well in­tro­duces yet an­other fea­ture packed Lessons sec­tion.

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

“I CAN’T CON­CEN­TRATE on it prop­erly and I panic. I’ll prob­a­bly have to learn it from scratch by tak­ing it right back to ba­sics.” So said UK Olympic diver, Tom Da­ley re­gard­ing his per­for­mance of a dif­fi­cult 2.5 som­er­sault with 2.5 twist rou­tine in a piked po­si­tion.

In many re­spects, sport has a more ex­pan­sive ap­proach for phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal im­prove­ment than the world of mu­sic. Prob­a­bly a good job too con­sid­er­ing the huge hur­dles (some­times lit­er­ally) and life en­dan­ger­ing re­quire­ments sports people face to ‘get good’! That said, we mu­si­cians can draw on their train­ing ap­proach to reach the next stage of ex­cel­lence.

Mulling on Tom’s quote is a case in point. Of­ten we can be in a sit­u­a­tion where we need to deliver the goods and we sadly ‘goof it’. Maybe it in­volved ‘school boy’ er­rors, heat of the mo­ment stuff. Quite pos­si­bly we hadn’t tried to du­pli­cate in prac­tice what we needed to do on stage; not stand­ing up, too much look­ing at the fret­board in­stead of an au­di­ence, not play­ing along to the CD enough times to em­u­late a gig’s en­vi­ron­ment.

Then there’s the eas­ier to sort prob­lem; just not enough of the right type of prac­tice was done. Worst of all is the burn­ing de­sire to get­ting the solo/ riff/whole song up to tempo too soon. Run­ning be­fore we walk is a recipe for dis­as­ter and prone to hav­ing a very detri­men­tal ef­fect on your whole out­look to mak­ing mu­sic. Not good.

This is where ‘slow = fast’ proves in­valu­able and it’s al­ways best done first, not as a pur­suit fol­low­ing a bad gig: preven­tion is bet­ter than cure! First, work through the mu­sic, get­ting it into half de­cent shape. Next, spend qual­ity time de­ter­min­ing where the hic­cups are that will deny you per­for­mance ex­cel­lence. To fix the hic­cups re­quires sev­eral sep­a­rate prac­tice ses­sions to deeply pro­gramme the phys­i­cal mo­tions at very slow tem­pos. Pro­gram­ming in a re­laxed state means you’re not overly stress­ing your body or your mind. Get­ting it right slowly and con­sis­tently not only pro­vides a strong tech­nique foun­da­tion but also men­tal con­fi­dence.

So try the 80/20 rule; 80% of the time prac­tice slowly so you’ve got all the play­ing re­quire­ments cov­ered then 20% of the time ‘taste’ a higher tempo. This ‘taste’ is im­por­tant as it gives you a vi­sion of what you’re striv­ing to­wards. As Tom re­alises, it’s bet­ter to thor­oughly em­brace the ba­sics rather than have a bad per­for­mance fuel the need to re­vise what you do!

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