"Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong."
I had my first traumatic mandolin incident when I was in third grade.
My bowl cut had barely grown out, I think I was wearing a plaid dress and it was Christmas Eve at my church's annual service. My family always did a bluegrass song that we wrote together and performed and normally I just sang the high harmony. This year though I had learned mandolin and was feeling great until the second I came on stage. Third grade me was freaked out! I was supposed to play a "solo" my dad helped me with that had about 10 notes in it. However, those 10 notes were too much for me. The moment the solo came up my hand started shaking so much my pick fell out of my hand and my solo was non-existent!
I know some of you get nervous playing guitar or will know something until the second you actually have to perform it, so I want to give you some tips on how to practice guitar so you are prepared for your own Christmas Eve service moments. I also want to help you find more material that challenges your guitar playing and grows you as a musician!
1) Stop being hard on yourself!
So many times I would find myself using guitar practice time unproductively and playing things I already knew. I would set my guitar expectations too high and would get discouraged that I wasn't learning things as fast as I "should' have been. So I ended up playing things I was comfortable with. So before you get practicing, throw all yo negative comments about your playing out the window and put of your "here to learn" hat!
2) Choose a goal of a song or technique you want to master on guitar
It's really important you have a goal in mind when you are practicing guitar like learning a song, figuring out how to solo in a certain style, speed picking etc. Choose just one at a time and go SLOW learning it! Which brings me to the next tip...
3) GO SLOW
Like sloth level! The dream is to use your guitar playing to bring hope and joy and to connect to people. So practice for the time when these people are all looking at you and you are nervous and everything suddenly vanishes from your head. Use a metronome to help you play consistently and slowly and ONLY increase it by 10 BPM a day!
4) Don't get distracted
Set a guitar practice time limit and turn off your phone during this time.
5) Do it right
Make sure you really get whatever you are trying to learn on guitar right before you move on to the next part. Make sure to choose music that you like and that inspires you. If you are playing a part a million times, it's best if you love that part!
Here are some of my favorite guitarists to learn from if you aren't sure where to go from where you currently are.
I always practice things that seem way too hard for me and take it one baby step at a time. You'll be amazed what you can learn by going slow!
Blues/Rock Foundation: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, John Mayer
Country: Brent Mason, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban
Acoustic: Jon Foreman, Civil Wars, Ed Sheeran, Tori Kelly
Alternative/ practice getting your pedal board sounding amazing: The 1975, Walk the Moon, Fleetwood Mac
If you have any tips for ways you've made your practicing more productive or if there any bands with guitar parts that have challenged you, please share! Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you!