Practice tips

Practice is best formed through habit, not inspiration. You want it to become like brushing your teeth, in that it feels strange if you don’t. Consistent practice and improvement will build a sense of good form and once you see it paying off it can become addictive.

Here are 5 tips for better practice:

1. Break your materials into categories

  • Reading

  • Theory

  • Technique

  • Aural

  • Performance

  • Composition

Many pieces will cover more than one area.

For example; improvising to backing tracks involves aural, hearing the chord progression and how your melody interacts. Theory, can you pick out the key, scale shapes and chordal tones. Technique, perhaps you’re incorporating a new skill such as bends, vibrato, legato and so on.

By knowing which areas each piece works on you can build well rounded practice that avoids you having a weak area.


2. Focus on something specific and determine your learning outcome.

For example; you’ve decide to learn ‘Master of Puppets’ by Metallica. Rather than whipping through the easy bits and skipping the more technically demanding stuff, isolate one thing to get better at.

The intro riff uses some ferocious down picking at 220 bpm. So work out were you’re at HONESTLY (amazing how many musicians lie to themselves). Say you’re comfortable at 140 bpm, set goals such as, by the end of today I want to be neat at 146, by the end of the week I want to be at 160, by the end of the month I want to hit 220. This will revolutionise how you practice, giving yourself clear achievable targets each time you pick up your instrument.


3. Goals: short, medium, long term.

Match your practice with your level!

It’s great to have aspirations, but learning Eruption in the first month is going to make you miserable. You’re either going to give up or waste your time playing sloppily.

So Eruption may be a LONG term goal, work backwards and think about the skills you’ll need. Short term might be learning a basic tapping arpeggio, medium term might be learning another piece by the same artist that helps you understand their style and approach.


4. Forget other people.

Especially my mate who can play a bit, that guy down the pub, anyone who quotes guitar magazines as gospel.

Focus on you! Know your goals and have confidence in your progress. Of course be inspired and talk music to everyone. Incorporate the bits you like, discard the rest.

There are so many great musicians but comparing them is impossible so whether you like Steve Smith, Thomas Lang, Lars Ulrich, Kurt Cobain, Steve Vai, BB King or whomever, not one of them learnt in exactly the same way. Your mix of influence and approach makes you unique.


5. Ask a Professional.

Music teachers exist for a reason. It doesn’t make you better or worse than someone self taught. It’s about standing on the shoulders of giants, saving you time and inspiring you to be better.


Mike Bateson 23rd July 2020

#mikebateson #reddogstudios #guitarlessons #drumlessons #musiclessons

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