After the nuclear war there will only be cockroaches and Keith Richards!! So let`s get practicing…with some general tips that you oughta bear in mind when you want to get all Zen on your fretboard.
1. Cultivate a desire to try and achieve excellence. When your lazy friends are down at the bar setting the world to rights you could stay at home beginning a journey to set either your own world on fire or even set the real world on fire.
2. Set yourself goals – both sensible & unattainable
Set yourself some goals and schedule your practice and STICK to IT. Perhaps consider two goals:
A.An aspirational one such as becoming as good as Jeff Beck (insert your favourite guitar maestro here) but also
B. A realistic, realtime short term goal: for example “In six months I will be able to play Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry”. Remember though it’s the journey not the destination that counts, a guitar is for life not just for Christmas if you want to go anywhere with it.
Don`t use your aspirational goal to beat yourself about though. Expecting to be able to play like Jeff Beck is akin to expecting to replicate the Cistine Chapel Ceiling on the interior of a ping pong ball – it’s a long hard difficult road walked only by those with a unique, god-given gift.
3. Find an environment that really works for you it may be outside beneath your favourite weeping willow or it may be in a quiet corner of your barn – make it as comfortable and as appealing as possible with few, or no distractions or interruptions.
If you can and you are serious about progression try to practice alone in a silent area. Also get the right chair, I`ll sometimes find myself thirty minutes into a jam session only to realise I`m curled up like a pretzel…no good man!
4. Make it easy – as the playing will initially be hard enough make it easy by using the tools that help. Buy the best guitar you can, buy a decent tuner and invest in learning materials that suit where you want to take your playing. Read this blog for more advice on the learning tools available. There is a veritable cornucopia of new digital practice tools such as the Ovation iDea guitar, the Fretlight guitars, Loopstation pedal or Fender G-Dec amplifier.
5. Develop Routines and excercises
A. start off with easy rewarding warm up work before moving onto your structured learning path (or course) – this may be a couple of songs you really enjoy, so write them down, and maybe singalong.
6. Join a band – the fastest way to leanr is from other more competent players. Use your ears and your eyes, ask questions.
7. It`s never too late to start and whatever happens don’t give up. If David Geffen isn`t ringing you up don`t worry. The journey is usually far more interesting than the destination.
8. Make mistakes and try stuff well outside your usual playing boundaries. Experiment as much as possible and try unusual positions. Try sliding chords around or even moving them across the strings.
9. If your fingers, hands and wrists are hurting then stop awhile.
10. Enjoy using effects and guitar toys but don’t fall into the trap of letting them do all the playing for you – one day you`ll want to be at the stage where you compliment the effects and not vice versa.
8. Reward yourself afterwards with something you enjoy like “icecream”.
12. Try and listen to the right records for a start but don’t limit yourself to the world of guitar. Choose your poison for example saxophonists Sonny Rollins, Roland Kirk and Miles Davis play some fantastic lead lines.
11. Most importantly – make sure it’s fun.
12. Have alook at “Zen Guitar” by Philip Toshio Sudo – it’s about motivation and fulfillment, not technique.