Slow the f**k down; practice w/ patience

A need for speed?

Grown-ups like to move fast.  We walk fast.  We drive fast.  We act fast.   And want to learn fast.  However, the next time you feel the urge to go to practice your guitar fast, heed these words:  Slow down!

Slow down.

It never fails that whenever I start learning something new I want to race right in to it.  I’m amped up and ready to go, and just need to start the engines.  But then I quickly go off the rails.  Usually because I jumped in too quickly.

And every new song presents its own unique set of learning circumstances and sometimes roadblocks.  As you progress in your playing abilities, you gain confidence in being able to learn and perform new songs faster.  This is an amazing feeling.  To play a series of notes with speed and assurance is pretty cool, I will admit, and is the ultimate goal for whatever piece of music you’re trying to play.

For instance, by dedicating a slow and steady focus on a tune for the first time, you will ultimately lead to fast and skilful playing in the end.  If you play each note cleanly, deliberately, and perfect the way you produce sounds, those actions get ingrained in your brain and in your fingers.  (I don’t know how one’s fingers absorb the knowledge, but it gets there!)

By practicing slow, you also give your brain a chance to solidify the connections that will become patters to follow.  If you practice at a very meticulous pace, you actually allow the knowledge to be captured and processed, and become ready to take action.  How ’bout them apples.

Of course, these tips make perfect logical sense, but it’s not often the approach people take… Why? Because people react emotionally want instant gratification.  They want to shred… and, y’know, it kinda sounds easy so “hell, I’ll just go for it.”

Trust me, it ain’t…  Don’t fall in to that trap.

You want get better.  You want to advance your skills, your proper technique.  This takes as much patience as it does confidence.  The confidence to know you’ll one day crank it up to 11 and shed the hell our of you ax… and the patience to trust that the path to getting there requires you take it slow in the beginning and work your way up to that level.

Each practice session should be mixed with fun material as well as stuff that will challenge you a bit.  Know matter how advanced your skill level is, if you’re working on new material you’ll want to play it slow.  Listen to the sounds.  Feel the guitar and how it vibrates in your arms.  Study the notes and detect patterns. Pay attention to the weaving melodies.  These elements are every bit as important as actually fretting the notes and plucking the strings.  Take it all in, absorb everything you can.  Enjoy the music. Feel the music.  And when you’re ready to perform the music, go nice and slow.  nice and slow.  nice and slow.

Once you’ve got it nailed down at a slow pace, you’re ready to move on.  Turn up the heat a little and give it everything you’ve got.

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