If you are fairly new to music – less than two years of being a musician – then you may have the issue of not being able to play the music you’ve practiced consistently when you go to perform it for someone else. If you are over two years into your development as a musician and are still having this issue then you need to pay extra close attention.
Play a part of a piece of music that you know, try it right now… without warming up or starting over… I want you to try and play it the first time and make it all the way through.
Were you able to play the piece without making a mistake? If so, that’s great! Try it again, and again, and again. Can you play it without any mistakes 9 times out of ten (no cheating!)? Great, then you can close this article. If you couldn’t, then keep reading.
If you couldn’t play your piece correctly nine times out of ten, then you need to work on your consistency. That is, working on making sure you can play that piece correctly 90% of the time. You don’t need to focus on making sure you can play it ten times out of ten only 9 times. To get to the point to where you can play a piece correctly over 99% of the time – especially as a beginner – is a huge amount of effort. It is not hard to get to that point, but the effort would be tremendous. Invest your time into getting something right 90% of the time; that extra 10% will take at least twice the amount of effort as it took to get to 90%. So, if you are a beginner focus purely on that 90%.
How does one work on getting themselves to play something correctly 90% of the time?
Well, the most obvious answer is to just practice it again and again until you hit that magic number, but that is only some of the answer. The rest of the answer lies in how that practice is carried out specifically. You can just play and play and play and play and eventually you will get it, but it will have taken much longer than if you do the few things I will show you today.
Many of the students I have can become consistent at all the parts of a song, but once they go to play the song in its entirety they have to play each part a few times or have to stop and restart to keep going. This is because they practice each seperate part over and over to get it right (which is a good thing), but they never practice integrating the whole song together. It is only until we do it together that the song really starts to come together.
So what you need to do to learn a piece really well and play it consistently is:
1) Memorize the entire song.
2) Practice and be able to play each part/lick/melody/progression of the song correctly 60-90% of the time.
3) WHILE YOU ARE PRACTICING THE PARTS OF THE SONG SEPARATELY don’t forget to practice integrating the parts together as well. Take some time each practice session playing a few of the licks you were practicing and playing them together, one after the other, just like in the song. You may think this is an easy thing to do (and it is), which is why it gets overlooked so often. Get a few parts down and then get them down together!
About The Author:
Bryce Gorman is a professional guitar teacher and musician living in Lethbridge Alberta with a passion for helping his students learn to play guitar they way they want to. If you are looking for lead guitar lessons In Lethbridge then get in touch with Bryce right away!