How many times do we have to learn a song before we’re able to play it the way we want to? This is a question that haunts guitarists to their very cores. What happens when your songs become “in the zone”?
The answer is: no. The only way to learn to play something is to practice. And, as it happens, practice and playing something like that are actually quite the opposite of one another. Practice only forces you to learn to play the way you want to play. But, practicing means, first, that you play something wrong but, second, that you learn something you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. You can’t learn anything through practice. The only way to learn to play something is to do it. The only way to learn how to play one’s instrument is to practice.
This is a really big deal, because it’s one of the central tenets of any serious guitarist’s education. No matter how advanced your guitar, you can only learn to play it so much if you practice in that vacuum – just as in the words of Dizzy Gillespie – “The great sound of a small instrument is like a big instrument without any tone.”
Even though the phrase is often misappropriated and misunderstood, there’s a simple reality here: it’s not about practicing the right way and not playing the wrong way. Practice only takes you so far and, most importantly, only lets you learn at the speed you need to play. And in order to learn as far into a song as you need to, you have to be playing right now.
If You’re Learning Guitar, Practice the Fast Way
No matter what level you begin with, or how advanced you aspire to be, the answer to the question why you should practice your guitar is clear. You just have to.
If you’re already playing an instrument, you’re already practicing the fastest way possible. You can’t learn anything outside of that. And, as is the case with most things in life, it’s best to make sure you’re playing within your comfort zone so you’re ready to move onto something new.
“But, how do I stop myself?” people often ask me. They aren’t asking for any specific advice at all. For them, it’s an innocuous question: how do you stop yourself? And the simple answer is: you just have to. Your habits and what you focus on are the most powerful things you have in terms of your mental and physical growth as a
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