guitar

Guitar Tip #1 – Practicing

Practicing:
Obviously people fill tomes about different “practice” methods, and it’s a very complex topic. In this post I just want to write about what I find works for me right now (over the years I’ve tried many different ways of practicing).

Most of the time when I pick up a new piece (or even something I haven’t played in a long time) I find that I can sight read through at least 80-90% of the piece (this is often slow reading at times). With this in mind, I approach the challenge in the following way:

  • I take any sections that I can’t read through and play them over a few times each until I can keep it up to tempo with the rest of the piece (I mean slower sight reading tempo, not performance tempo)
    *this usually takes me 3-4 days depending on the difficulty of the work
  • Once that’s done, I’m ready to start playing through the piece as a whole (in the beginning stages it may take me an hour or so to get through it all if it’s a big work). From this point I start doing 2 things:
    • (1) making mental notes of problem areas, that is:
      • anything that doesn’t sound good in terms of phrasing, lines, buzz, position leaps, etc… -Remember you are looking for the “consistent” mistakes
      • anything that doesn’t feel good in the hands (this can be due to: bad fingerings and/or lack of technique, in which case I have 2 options:
        • change the fingering to utilize another technique in which I am strong (if possible)
        • if another fingering is not possible, like if the fingering change worsens legato or phrase lines, then I will take the technique, and based on how well I can already execute it, I will: start with extremely slow practice always trying to perform the action with as little effort as possible…..try to find “comfort” in the new technique; once I have the main idea of how to do it, I design a number of exercises to strengthen and improve the speed/accuracy of the technique (all the while trying it out in the context of the music)
    • (2) As I play through the piece at slow tempos I start trying out different musical ideas (interpretation). At first I find many passages are not sounding their best, but over time I come up with many good ideas…..and each time I think of a good idea, I play the passage a few times so that I wont forget it
  • At this point practice for me becomes, rehearsing the piece from top to bottom and each time I hit a section that isn’t working as well as the rest, I stop for 5-15 minutes to work on making that section more comfortable (mentally and physically)

I could write so much more on this topic, but I’ll leave my first post moderately short
/e

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