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OTHER ITA SITES:
Practising Guitar - The Sneaky Person's Way To Get Better
People taking up the guitar generally fall into one of two categories: the first just want to learn to play a few chords so they can accompany themselves while singing their favourite songs. Or maybe they want the social life and perks that come with playing in a band. For them, practising can be a pain.
The second type is the person who from day one knows they want to be as good as the best in their chosen field, whether it's rock, funk, jazz, or classical. In other words, they want to emulate their heroes. And practice is the pain that leads to the gain.
If we're honest, most guitarists will admit to starting off with approach one and ending up on the road to approach two, simply because no matter how good you get, you have a nagging doubt that you could do better. You also feel that anyone listening to you knows this too, and they're wondering why exactly you don't sound like a profesional. (Although that's just paranoia--they aren't thinking that at all.)
Fortunately, the guitar is an instrument that will cater for both approaches. Someone once said it's the easiest instrument to play sloppily and the hardest to play well.
Personally, I'm not so sure: a church organ, (think of all those pedals) and the bagpipes have got to be at least contenders for the title.
No matter, there is some truth in the statement.
But who cares? If your intention is to make your delivery of your favourite songs sound fuller, does it really matter what standard you are? Of course it doesn't. (As long as you aren't really, really terrible and inflict it on other people, that is.)
And besides, every time you pick up the guitar (or anything else), you improve. You build up muscle memory, for one thing. Practice really does make perfect.
And that's the important thing: it is necessary to practice.
Only ever playing while you sing those faves of yours does count as practice, if that's all you want to accomplish. And the good news is you can get to play pretty decent pretty quickly, just by learning the necessary chords, persevering, then learning how to play rhythm with a little variety.
If you want to be more versatile, though, practice will probably mean learning moves before being able to apply them to something meaningful--a bit like the wax-on-wax-off sequence in the movie The Karate Kid. And just like Daniel-san, you're going to get to the point sometimes where you wonder what the point of it all is, and whether you can take it without losing your sanity.
Or maybe you'll start to feel it's taking up too much of your life, that you could be doing something more useful or enjoyable (because, let's face it, practice is always dry and unenjoyable, isn't it?)
But should you ever get into the position where you feel you just can't face those exercises, there's a sneaky trick you can play to fool yourself into doing it.
(It works for other things, too, like exercise, and research).
It's this: tell yourself that you're only going to practise for two minutes. One hundred and twenty seconds, maximum. After that, no matter whether you're enjoying it or not, you absolutely have to stop. No carrying on. No excuses. And make yourself put the guitar down.
Try it. See what happens. You'll be a better guitarist in no time.
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