Practice Tips

Practice Tips:

Is it OK to practice in front of the TV?

Definitely NOT! If you want to practice, just practice. If you want to watch TV, watch the TV and practice after.

Playing music is a very multitasking, you need to think ahead, listen to what you are playing and feel the rhythm. To do all of these, you really need to concentrate. Especially when you are learning.

If you watch TV, you will get distracted very easily and will not even realize if you make a mistake.

Is it OK to have alcoholic drink while I am practising?

Well,……. we really need to focus and think about what we are doing. Normally having alcohol makes people less able to focus and concentrate. So, I would say that you should NOT have alcohol while you are practising.

If you would like to have a drink, have it after the practice session.

NOTE; This answer also only applied if you are 18 years old or older.

How do I make sure that I practice properly?

This is a very smart question. Again, think about what to play, when to play and how to play at all times and DO NOT trust your instinct. You really have to think about it from start to finish, if you stop thinking for one millisecond you can make a mistake.

One millisecond of mistake is enough to make musicians look bad and one note played by mistake is enough to make the music sound bad. When I was a student myself I used to practice in front of the mirror and that way I could see how my fingers and right hand moved.

It doesn’t matter how good the musician is, when they play, they still think about what they’re doing, they don’t just use instinct. The better player you are the easier it gets and it will seem to the audience that you don’t even need to think about it. This comes from practising well. Remember “Good quality practice makes you a good player”. Poor quality practice, get you nowhere and just a waste of time.

How do you practice to play fast?

The secret to playing fast is to play slow and well first,however, most people don’t have the patience to practice to get to the point where they can play fast and well. When you can do it well from every aspect, then you just do the same thing, but faster.

You MUST think about every element of your playing including what to play, when to play it and how to play it. If you practice fast, you will have less time to think about what you’re doing and you will find that the practice session becomes a total waste of time and I can guarantee you that you will get nowhere and get frustrated instead.

If you practice slow, you have more time to think about everything you are doing and you can avoid making mistakes. This way you progress faster and have more fun. When you play fast you need to think faster and ahead of what you’re doing. So DO NOT play any faster than you can think, otherwise you will make a mess of it.

I can play really well at home, but then I can’t do it in front of you, how come? Is that because I am nervous?

No, it’s not because you’re nervous. Some students say that, but actually that is not the real case. What really happens is; If you practice at home and make some mistakes, nobody catches you, but if you make a mistake in front of us, we can hear it and see it straightaway.

The most common mistakes that our students make is that they don’t give themselves enough time to think about what they are doing and practice too fast.

Remember….! If you practice too fast, you won’t have enough time to think about what you are doing, that’s why it is easier to make mistakes and you will progress very slow, you could get frustrated and waste time. But, if you practice slow, you will have more time to think about it and you will be able to avoid making too many mistakes and you will progress faster and have more fun.

If you want to be able to play faster, you must be able to do it slow and right first and then increase the speed gradually. Don’t forget that if you play fast, you would need to concentrate more and think faster.

My hand hurts especially under my left thumb when I am practising bar chords. Please advice.

Try to put your hand on different angle.Stop if it hurts too much, STOP and practice again later. Don’t play bar chords constantly one after the other like F to Bm or F to Bb for too long.Combine bar chords with open chords, eg; Em to F, Bm to Em and C – F instead, so your hands and thumb have time to relax.

You should NEVER press with your thumb, but grip with your fingers instead. If the problem come again or gets worse, talk to your doctor.

My fingertips are sore when I am practising, is that normal?

Yes, it is normal. Everyone experiences the same thing, but later on you will get used to it.

I keep making the same mistake and I can’t help it. Please advice.

Stop and think about “Why” you make the same mistake. Slow down and think about what you are doing. Check your right hand and then left hand. Think about about the notes you play and feel it.

The faster you practice, the more mess you  make and the more frustrated you will be. So, SLOW DOWN and think ahead at all time.

I have been practicing but I am getting bored and frustrated because I don’t feel like I am going anywhere. Any advice?

It takes not only practice but also thought and focus. We need to teach our muscle memory to remember what to do and this takes time and discipline, so be patient. Everyone has to do the same as you are doing.

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS NATURALLY GIFTED, EVERYONE HAS TO PRACTICE.

Our brains are very clever, but our muscles are NOT very clever. They have to be taught so many times until they remember what to do and what not to do.

So, muscle memory is practiced by repetition. Repetition of mistakes will make the practice not fun, it will only make it worse as you will get frustrated, progress very slow and maybe give up.

How should I practice and how much should I practice?

Practice smart and focus. Avoid making mistakes as much as you can and keep thinking about what you are doing and MAKE SURE that you notice straight away when you make mistakes and try to not repeat the same mistakes, because you would be wasting too much time.

One of the most important things to remember is never repeat the same mistake because you will get frustrated, the whole practice session will not be fun and you will progress very slowly.

Give yourself time to think about everything you learn, especially when you learn something that you have never done before.It doesn’t matter how smart you are, your hands need some time to practice and remember how to move and hold the right notes.

The more often you practice, the better you will be. You don’t need to practice for a long time, but you do need to practice as often as you can to make your hands remember what to do and to synchronize your thinking, listening, feeling and playing.

For beginners, I would suggest practising between half an hour to one hour a day (minimum). For experienced players, you will know when you need to stop and I would suggest not to practice more than two hours in one go. Have a break and start again.

Some people say that good guitarists are the ones who know when not to play. Others say that you shouldn’t play fast because you’d lose the feel and are showing off. What do you think about that?

I would not say that because it takes a lot of practice and discipline to be able to play fast and there are many guitarists who play fast but still melodic and are great to listen to.

For me, a good guitarist is one who knows how to play as required.

You should be able to play slow and simple when required but you should be able to play fast too when it’s needed.

How much should I practice?

As I mentioned before, you don’t have to practice hard if you practice “smart”. It’s a great feeling when you are learning and progressing and it’s a great joy for me as a teacher to see my students grow. I would suggest you practice a minimum of one hour every day.I used to practice up to 6 hours a day but I was a music student and working full-time as a musician. If you work outside of music you will not have time to practice that much. Instead,

  • Practice in the way I teach you and copy me 100% until you understand the basics. Once you master the basics and have a strong foundation of knowledge about playing guitar, then you could develop your own style by adding and improving the material with your own ideas.
  • Identify your weaknesses or bad habits then fix them so you can improve your skill.
  • Be patient and prepared to work hard. There is no one in the world who can teach you to be a great guitarist overnight but if you practice hard and smart, you will progress very fast.

Don’t wait until you have time to practice, because it will never happen as we all have a hectic lifestyle these days. You just have to make time to practice or don’t bother learning.

What kind of pick should I use?

We would recommend Dunlop from 0.88mm to 1.00mm as they are used by most famous guitarists and they seem to produce the best sound.

We also sell strings and picks for students and the prices are the same as in music shops.

What’s the most effective way to practice?

Some people say you have to practice hard to be a good player but we teach our students to practice “SMART”. When you learn a science such as mathematics, chemistry, computers, economics etc you work with your brain (thinking) more than anything else. When you learn music, you use your hands, your brain, your ears, your heart (feeling), your feet to feel the beat and your whole body to express what you’re playing. Some people might say that they have been playing guitar for 20 years or more but that means nothing.

How they practice and how they play means a lot more to everyone who listens.Some people might have been playing guitar for many years but only practice once in a blue moon, while other people could have been playing an instrument for three years but five hours a day, six days a week. I would choose the later. Practising smart is better than practising hard. If you could combine them together, it would be even better.

When I look for musicians to play with me, the first question I ask is: “How did you learn to play music?”, then see how well they play. Of course, the more experience you have the better you will become. You need to be constantly checking yourself and remember what TO DO and what NOT TO DO. You only have me watching you 1 hour per week, so you have to make sure that  you catch yourself when you make a mistake and then fix it.

If you make a mistake and you don’t feel it, then your practice would be absolutely useless. If you make a mistake, fix it straight away before you get used to it and it becomes a habit.
If you have a bad habit, you will find it very hard to fix. On the other hand if you have a good habit, you’ll become a better and better player and you will surprise yourself and you will have a bigger and bigger smile on your face.