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Practising Tips

Practising Tips

This youtube video is very funny – and so apropos my latest blog! A Must see!

Practising Guitar

Practising Tips

Practising Tips

ALWAYS practise from memory. Your first step is to memorise the 3 or 4 notes that you are learning, so that you can watch and help your hands to play them.

Step 1 As best you can, decide on a fingering for both left and right hands.  DO NOT waste time practising something without making good fingering choices – especially for the right hand, which is often ignored!



a) Watch your hand.  Keep your thumb relaxed, it should not be digging a hole in the back of the guitar! Is your hand position correct? It should be parallel to the guitar (scale position) or turning out to facilitate 2 or more notes on one fret. Make sure it is in the best position for that group. Then practise very, very slowly –  help the fingers to play the notes efficiently, with small relaxed movements.

b) Next step play the notes with your eyes closed. If you cant do this – repeat step a) trying to memorise the ‘feel’ of playing them. Try again and repeat the ‘feel’ of the notes with your eyes closed.

c) Play the notes watching the music – this is harder because your kinaesthetic ability is reduced when your eyes are busy looking at the notes. EVERY sense is reduced when you are ‘busy looking’, so you won’t be able to ‘hear’ yourself as well either. Just keep repeating steps abc until you have it at a very slow speed!


Repeat steps abc this time watching the right hand. If it is too difficult for your left hand to cope when focussing on the right hand – then practise the right hand separately first on open strings. Use small relaxed movements – listen to your one, I often find that a problem  quickly disappears if I do this. When the right hand can ‘play the notes’ more easily, put the two hands together again – playing very very slowly!

Step 4: Apply this method continuously to each small group of notes throughout the piece. Or to just the odd groups that need it.

TIP 1: When you play the group through with your eyes on the music make sure you simply ‘track’ the notes with your eyes – in other words do not let your brain think it has to ‘work out’ the notes again! You are simply following the notes with your eyes whilst you play the notes that you have already memorised.

TIP 2:  You are simply memorising each small group of notes to help practise and improve them – this is the first step to memorising the whole piece. BUT you need to do this even if you do not intend to play the piece from memory, or feel that you cannot memorise the whole piece.

TIP 3: How many times did I say ‘practise slowly’ in this blog? Practising slowly means that you are relaxed and in control – if you are not – try going slower! (See previous article) If you always play at a controlled speed that ‘easy speed’ naturally speeds up. Never force it – you will just eliminate all the hard work you have done!

We are all guilty of playing something over and over and hoping it will get better, its human nature. But the truth is every time you make the same mistake, or struggle with same chord change –  it just cements itself more firmly into your subconscious. You need to play those difficult few notes PERFECTLY FIRST TIME. Or at least ASAP!

The trick is to play a small group of notes from memory watching your hands and playing in slow motion – at one mile an hour! If you play slowly enough you will execute it perfectly 1st time. Who cant do a difficult move perfectly if you leave 10 secs between notes! When you can play them easily 10 secs apart make it shorter (8 secs) then shorter again until you can play them at a comfortable speed. I stress the word comfortable not fast! Greater speed will take a few days at best and a few weeks/months at worst to achieve – BUT you will be playing the notes perfectly the whole time – and when you input the information calmly and slowly into your computer (the brain) and into your muscles, you naturally begin to speed up the relaxed accuracy you have achieved.

Guess what happens when you continually input faults into your computer (brain)? It keeps giving you the same crap! Maybe through sheer luck you get it right once every 4 times – but your brain remembers the 3 wrong times much more easily because you inputted the wrong notes/bad moves more often!!

Tomorrow I will be posting a blog telling you exactly how to practise a new piece or difficult section – so watch this space! (Unless of course you want to keep using the crash and burn practise technique that nearly every student employs?)

Practising Tips

Practising Tips

A great way to practise a difficult left hand chord change which includes a change in postion (eg from 1st position to 5th) is to separate it into 2 distinct moves. I advise practising each step carefully before moving on to the next one.

  1. Change from the 1st chord shape to the 2nd, staying in the same postion (eg stay in 1st position for both chord shapes). This may sound very strange as the 2nd chord may sound terrible without the change in position (especially if open strings are involved), but it makes you very aware of exactly what each finger needs to do to make the change.
  2. When the change becomes more fluent, change the chord (again in the same position) and then ‘slide’ the fingers into the new postion. This involves 2 steps. Change chords 1st – then slide to the new postion.
  3. When you have tried this a few times it becomes a simple step to rearrange the fingers simultaneously AS you change position on the guitar.

I can guarantee that after a few of days practising this way, the change will become fluent!