Today’s post is all about on one of most favoured of subjects, and a word I repeat often on this blog – consistency.
What about it?, I hear you say.
Well, it’s the key, the silver bullet if you will, to becoming a proficient guitarist and musician. More so than doing something lots in one go. More so than three hours of “stuff” one or two days a week.
Doing something, doing that something again, and again, and again, and again, and once you’ve got that doing it some more, building it up, doing it again. This is the way to become the guitarist that you wish to be. Sure a little bit of natural talent or aptitude can help, but consistent practice is the true heart of “getting good”, basically!
Yes it does take time – c’mon! Your brain is not some inanimate desktop computer that you can just download new software too. You’ve got to give it a chance to grow the new neural pathways and add your own spin onto things – way cooler. So it’s not so much a quick fire silver bullet, but most definitely a sure fire silver bullet.
Another way to look at things. You’re not going to complete a 100km bike race by doing six hours of training all on the one day in a given week (unless you’ve been doping like half the pro peleton! OK bad example). Narcotic assistance aside, you may get a very limited amount of benefit over a certain, and undoubtedly long period of time, but it’s not going to make you much of a competent bicycle rider or racer either. Your brain and your body are going to forget within the space of that week I can assure you.
This is as applicable to those taking their first forays into learning the guitar, as it is for those of us who’ve been playing for many a year! It is also equally applicable to most other things in our life
The five minute wonder
So if you do anything after reading today’s post, please, please, PLEASE set aside, even on the busiest of days even just 5 to 10 minutes per day to work on something with the guitar. There are heaps of things you can do in that space of time:
- reminding yourself of the piece you’re playing and keeping it strumming along, so to speak in your mind and fingers
- scales relating to the piece or pieces you’re playing
- one or two technical exercises, or study, again ideally relating to a piece you’re playing or learning at the moment
Or a personal favourite of mine in a 5 or 10 minute window is to work on a known niggly spot or phrase in a piece or study. You know the ones. That chord change or left hand movement that isn’t quite as smooth as it should be. Or working out exactly what shape you want a small phrase to be. Or working out, defining and pencilling in the preferred right hand fingering for a niggly section.
You’ll find that you can actually achieve quite a bit in just a short amount of time, provided that work is focused and you know what to achieve at the end of that 5 or 10 minutes.
That said if you’re feeling a little brain dead and zombified after a ridiculous day at work, even just picking up the guitar and noodling on a scale or two for five to ten minutes is far better than a day when absolutely nothing would have been played or practiced. At least the fingers are getting a wee reminder for the muscle memory bank!
30 minutes a day
Check out this blog post I saw only this week on the subject of doing something with consistency. There are some excellent illustrations provided to emphasis the point too:
If you don’t have the time to look at this article, here’s my favourite take-home message:
Find a time span that makes it insanely hard for you to not do it every day. Keep doing it and over time, you’ll be surprised at how much you’re able to accomplish.
Very well said!
*Warning: there’s a naughty word at the start of this article that rhymes with ducked, so if you’re of the easily offended disposition you have been warned! Hah hah!