Playing Without Making Mistakes
By Matteo Miller-Nicolato
An beginner guitar player will practice until he “gets it right”. A professional guitar player will practice until he “Never Gets it Wrong”. How does this work?
You need effective practicing strategies to target both the physical and mental parts of practicing. There are two things that usually happen when a guitar player makes a mistake while practicing a song:
1. He will ignore the mistake and just keep playing.
2. He will stop playing and go back to the beginning of the song and start over.
Both of these methods will not correct the mistake, and will only waste your practicing time!
Training your hands:
You need to train your fingers to execute the proper motions. To do this, you need to play the song you are learning at regular speed, and then STOP when you find yourself making a mistake, or playing sloppy, or unclean. Any little physical problem that you notice you CAN fix it. Now watch your hands and figure out what the problem is:
1. Is it my picking hand or my fretting hand that is making the mistake?
2. Is my pick moving around making big motions or is it controlled and close to the strings?
3. Am I picking the right strings? Am I hitting an extra string on accident?
4. Is my fretting hand tensing up causing my fingers to lock up?
5. Am I fretting the right notes? Am I accidentally touching another string, muting the sound?
6. Am I using the right fingers to play the notes?
Now you need to ISOLATE the problem, and practice it SLOWLY. Usually this means playing about 4-8 notes over and over again. Slowly. Very slowly. Watching both hands. Study your movements. This is CRITICAL. If you are making mistakes in slow motion (matrix style, ultra slow motion) then you will definitely make mistakes at higher speeds.
Follow these steps to solve your problems:
1. Focus on the problem area in isolation. Is it a difficult chord change? Is it moving from
strumming a chord to playing a melody? Are your fingers getting confused?
2. Slow everything down, and make sure that you can play it correctly in SLOW MOTION.
3. Practice in SLOW MOTION for several minutes (with a metronome), playing the SAME thing over
and over again.
4. When you feel comfortable at a slow speed, go back to playing at full speed, and watch as your
5. Repeat steps 1-3 until you feel comfortable playing at a normal tempo.
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