Most guitar students ask themselves what’s necessary to improve their practicing routine, their progress and their overall development as a musician. Asking such kind of questions is a pretty good point to start from and hopefully will lead to great results if answers are found.
In this article I want to give you a very important piece of the puzzle that will help you to get ultimate results out of your practice time. If you pay close attention and use this „tool“ as a habit, you will experience greater results in a much shorter amount of time than you ever have thought of.
Many people spend tons of hours on practicing their instrument yet wondering why their progress is so small and almost non-existent. In fact often times there really is no progress at all in spite of lots of hours of practice. Many times - and unfortunately I have experienced this on my own very often - this can lead to great frustration about yourself and your ability as a guitarist or musician.
After many years of practicing by using many different learning strategies and approaches, I can tell you exactly what key element was missing in my sessions during all these lost practice hours: It was the right amount of Awareness of what exactly it is that you are doing right at this very moment.
It happens all too often that we practice mindlessly, without thinking and with a complete lack of awareness. I would refer to this as „noodling around“ and noodling around may not always be the wrong thing to do. However, we have to keep in mind that while doing so, we do not really engage our brain in the process of practicing, thus giving it no incentive to progress mentally.
The result is that we do not grow as effectively as we could do in the same amount of time and this is practically the same thing as „wasting time“!
So here is what you have to do if you want to improve your practicing habits using Awareness:
You should always be able to answer the following questions while practicing:
- Whats the basic element that I am working on with this exercise? Am I working on a technical issue, is it mental, is it about application or integration of musical concepts, is it about creativity ... ?
- Whats the short term goal I am trying to achieve with it and what’s the long term goal?
- Is this specific exercise in line with my short- and longterm goals?
- Whats the very challenge of this exercise and what detail is holding me back from getting better? If you are able to find these obstacles while practicing, you have developed an immeasurably valuable skill thats necessary to break through all kinds of plateaus!
- As soon as you have answered this question you have to ask yourself consistently if you are focussing on the problem area or if you are mentally drifting away.
Always keep these questions in mind while practicing and you will never again have a session that is ineffective or wont bring you any progress. Even if you did not get better during such a session on a measurable level, you for sure got better and will harvest the fruits of your labor on a later point in time.
Compare it to lifting weights: Your muscles do not grow while curling but rather afterwards during the rest period. The same happens to your brain - it has to process the information and incentives it has gotten during your practice session.
Awareness in this case makes sure that the level of mental intensity is high enough and this way enables you to become better than before.
I hope this helps you on your way towards becoming a great guitar player and musician in general and I wish you all the best on that long and enjoyable road!
This article was written for harmonymusiccenter.com owned by Andrew Bassuk.