Have you heard the phrase “repetition, repetition, repetition”?
Of course, this means that by going over something again and again you can commit it to memory, which is useful when we want to remember songs, tunes, scales and chords. Sometimes though, ‘brain memory’ just isn’t fast enough and is prone to forgetfulness so we need to employ something I call ‘finger memory’.
‘Finger memory’ is a form of muscle memory, which suggests that your muscles can remember certain actions it performs frequently. As musicians, this means that if we practice something often enough we will eventually be able to start doing it without having to think about it anymore – it’s like our fingers seem to know where they’re going on their own! This can help us with fast phrases, scale runs, chords… nearly every aspect of guitar playing.
I’d like you to meet… your brain
There is a catch – the reality is that because you have done the same movements often enough, your brain assumes that’s how you always want it to be done and takes the path of least resistance, following what seems to ‘feel’ right… even if it’s wrong. It’s not your brain’s fault though, it’s only doing what you told it to do!
It’s important to practice your movements on the guitar slowly and as technically perfect as you can manage. If you make a mistake, slow down and take your time. ALWAYS be consistently correct.
This approach to learning can be very frustrating but can yield HUGE results in a relatively short period of time. I’ve had students who have been playing something the same way for 20 years and never improving at it but after a couple of weeks of slowing down and using ‘good repetition’, they find that they start to make progress again.
Next time you see anybody who is a master of their profession, maybe on TV, watch their technique and how they make it look easy.
This is because with good practice, it is.
Think about a professional chef chopping up some vegetables super fast – do you think they started at that speed?
Until next time…