Mistake #10

Mistake #10: Trying to Figure Everything Out Yourself, Rather Than Getting a Teacher

A teacher is crucial to learning a complex skill like guitar playing and are the ultimate time saver for your practice time, for the following reasons:

  • They are a filter, giving you what you need to know at the right time. Avoids information overload
  • They are an authority: a teacher who is knowledgeable will simplify the learning process by providing correct information right from the get go
  • They give you accountability and a way to measure progress
  • They give valuable feedback and help adjust and improve your strategy
  • They give a clear path to improvement so you don’t need to endlessly wander around wondering if something is correct or not.

A good guitar teacher is the most valuable thing you can do for your music. And when you have found a good teacher, make sure you listen to and implement their advice.

This is what inspired me to build Fret Dojo, as I wanted to build a resource that has boiled down for you the most important points in developing the skills to become a great jazz guitarist. A website that provides the most essential tools you need to free that music inside you that you know is in there. A resource that gives you a clear path to getting better at your instrument, so that you enjoy your music more and then share it with others.

Connecting with others is what we need most in the world right now. And music is a wonderful way to do this.

Congratulations – You Have Completed the Guide!

I’m so glad that you’ve joined me for the journey and you are now an official Fret Dojo jazz guitar initiate! If you haven’t already, subscribe to my Youtube channel, like the FretDojo Facebook Page here or follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions about this Guide or need help with any aspect of your guitar playing, I am more than happy to help in any way that I can. I’ll also let you know when my latest posts and videos come out so keep your eye out for those.

Well done! You did it – this concludes ‘How To Avoid The Top Ten Mistakes That Guitarists Make In Their Practice Session’. Thanks very much for reading this series. I sincerely hope you found this useful and you had some meaningful takeaways as a result. I wish you the very best in your guitar journey.

I’ll see you in the Dojo!

Greg O’Rourke

Founder, FretDojo

World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education

 

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Mistake #9

Mistake #9: Thinking Hours = Progress

This is a big one. Nearly every pro musician I’ve met has this mindset. And nearly every amateur musician complains about not having enough time to practice.

But there is good news! I’m here to tell you that ‘Hours = Progress’ is misleading. In fact, it is totally deluded.

Let’s consider the other topics we’ve covered in this guide. Creating a routine. Having clear outcomes. Having focus. Becoming self aware in various ways. Not wasting time on superfluous exercises.

These are what generate progress. Time, in itself, does not.

Of course, someone who practices for 6 hours will probably make more progress than someone who practices for one hour.

However, the relative amount of progress for the extra 5 hours will be far smaller than the first hour. The law of diminishing returns will apply.

Focus and consistency and the other points we have covered in this Guide are far more important than simply tallying up hours spent. The ‘hours = progress’ mindset is too simplistic and can be damaging. Damaging to your health. Damaging to your sanity. And ironically, damaging to your productivity in the long term.

If your goals are to be one of the best musicians in the world, yes it is true you will need to spend many hours each day refining your craft.

However if you want to be 80% as good as a world-class musician, you can spend 20% the amount of that time (remember the 80/20 rule?). And being 80% as good as a world-class musician is still pretty darn good in my books.

Your Assignment:

  • Take the focus off needing to neglect everything else in your life so that you can fit x amount of guitar practice hours in your day. Decide on a timeframe that is whatever your schedule permits and stick to that. Focus and consistency are the key.
  • Adopt the other strategies covered in this Guide and optimize whatever time you have, to get far more results in a shorter amount of time.

I’m glad that we had a chance to mythbust that one.

Last but certainly not the least, in the upcoming final topic of this Guide, I’m going to share with you the Number 1 strategy for ensuring that you make rapid progress on your instrument and use the time that you do have in the best possible way. See you in the final instalment!

~ Greg from FretDojo

 

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•  A step-by-step guide on building core improvisation skills

• Fundamental comping techniques to be a hero on the bandstand

• Make cool sounding improvised solos straight away WITHOUT confusing music theory

• The ultimate fast path for establishing a foundation in jazz guitar

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Mistake #8

Mistake #8: Not Thinking About Posture and ‘Feel’.

It is absolutely crucial to consider posture as a guitarist. After all, it’s our fingers, arms, and nerves that form the pathway from our brain to the guitar. If these are out of kilter, you music will suffer; it will hamper your technique and could cause long term damage.

Remember that old tune?

“Hip bone connected from the thigh bone

Thighbone connected from the knee bone

Knee bone connected from the shin bone…”

Every part of the body affects every other part of its functioning. So if your posture is not good when you play, it is like putting traffic lights on a highway – it will drastically slow the speed and ease at which your hands can move as the ‘traffic’ between your brain and muscles will slow down to a snail’s pace.

If you play with poor posture, you really must sort this out. You will quickly notice some very positive changes in your technical ability. Playing with a good posture can also really help with confidence on stage – body language is everything after all.

Have I convinced you? Good! Now that we have sorted that out, there is an important concept I want to introduce to you that I consider the best way to improve any piece or technique.

The ‘Feel’ in the Hands

The Number One thing I always think about in my practice is: ‘does this passage feel good in my hands? Does this fingering work for my hands? How is this feeling right now?’

This is a higher priority whether a particular fingering pattern or solution makes logical sense. If it simply doesn’t feel good in the hands after I play with it for a while, I reject it.

This simple tip, given to me by the great classical guitarist Tim Kain, has been my most effective strategy for getting music to flow and expressing myself easily on the instrument.

So try to cultivate this type of self-awareness. Ask yourself – how does my hands feel right now? How does my body feel right now? How is my posture?

The results will speak for themselves.

In the next instalment of this Guide we’ll cover a mindset issue that has a long, and deluded tradition across the study of most instruments. I look forward to blowing this myth out of the water for you – see you in the next one!

~ Greg from FretDojo

 

Join The FretDojo 30 Day Jazz Guitar Challenge

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•  A step-by-step guide on building core improvisation skills

• Fundamental comping techniques to be a hero on the bandstand

• Make cool sounding improvised solos straight away WITHOUT confusing music theory

• The ultimate fast path for establishing a foundation in jazz guitar

• Instant access – find out more and sign up by clicking the button below:

Mistake #7

Mistake #7: Having a Lack Of Focus In Practice Sessions

The guitar master is kind of like a yogi really. Because he’s learned the value of single pointed concentration.

Focus.

Focus is the thing that allows truly great things to happen in the world. The truly great artistic, architectural, and spiritual achievements by the luminaries of mankind are a result of this simple, but unbelievably powerful skill.

And it is this skill, my guitar apprentice, that you will need to cultivate.

Turn off that iPhone. Banish social media updates. No more Youtube videos of cats pulling faces. Your guitar practice time is just for that: mastery of the king of instruments, the guitar.

Whenever you notice yourself straying off the topic, bring your mind back to the present, back to your goals, and back to that task that will achieve your goals.

Cultivating focus is one of the highest leverage things you can do for your guitar practice. It will mean you can get 3 times the value from the same amount of time you spend on your instrument. Through being focused and consistent you can achieve unbelievable results even within a short space of time.

I have found the practice of meditation to be very useful to cultivate focus, see this article for more. However, if that sort of thing isn’t for you then think about this idea of focus every time you practice. Think about your task for the session, and single mindedly work towards that without fail.

So many people complain about ‘not having enough time’.

What they should really be saying is ‘I haven’t made a routine, I haven’t got clear goals, and I’m not focused when I do make time for practice.’

Don’t be one of these people!

Your Assignment:

  • Find the way that works best for you to cultivate focus. Whether you try meditation or otherwise, use your guitar practice as a focus training session. Cultivate awareness to check that what you set out to do in a session is what you are actually doing.
  • You can use other opportunities throughout the day to cultivate focus, not just your guitar playing. When you wash the dishes, just focus on that simple activity. When talking to a friend, are you really focussing on listening or are you talking to someone else?
  • If you are looking for a bit of technological assistance for cultivating a mind that can stay in the present, I would recommend the website Headspace. It’s a great resource and an interesting contemporary look at the ancient practice of meditation.

Ok yogic master, well done for attaining the seventh stage!

In the next topic, it’s time to look at the body beautiful…see you in the next one!

~ Greg from FretDojo

 

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•  A step-by-step guide on building core improvisation skills

• Fundamental comping techniques to be a hero on the bandstand

• Make cool sounding improvised solos straight away WITHOUT confusing music theory

• The ultimate fast path for establishing a foundation in jazz guitar

• Instant access – find out more and sign up by clicking the button below:

Mistake #6

Mistake #6: Not Giving Enough Time To Creativity

In my pre jazz guitar days, I fell victim to this insidious mistake, and now realise how stifling not enough giving time to improvise can be for any musician.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where it is more suited to playing a pre-prepared arrangement, however if you don’t spend time on improvising in the practice room you can not only stifle the ability to play with other musicians easily, but actually hamper your technique as well. More on that later.

Here are some of the key benefits of improvisation:

  • Improvising helps you to learn to match your ear with the sound of the guitar very closely. This means that you have a much greater chance of recovery if you happen to make a mistake while you are performing. Someone who does not have these skills will really struggle to recover a performance if things go wrong (which at some point will happen – so it’s best to be prepared),
  • Being confident with your improvisation gives you the ability to perform or jam with others at short notice. This is not only good socially but could lead to more work as a guitarist if you are a professional,
  • Improvisation uses scale and arpeggio patterns and so you get to practice them at the same time doing something expressive and creative,
  • Improvising is fun! It’s a challenging way to think laterally and creatively and is really beneficial for your overall musical skills and your mind in general.

So how do you get your improvisation to the next level? By visiting the FretDojo.com blog (of course!) I will be posting regular videos on the topic to share what I know, both on single line soloing as well as the often sought after advice on chord soloing. I’m motivated to do this as it can be quite difficult to find a good teacher on the topic and I’ve had the benefit of having some great teachers on improvisation over the years.

Improvisation is the fundamental skills of a jazz guitarist, but should be a fundamental skill of any musician, of any style.

In the next instalment of this guide we are going to look at the thing that masters of the guitar and ancient Indian Yogis have in common. Ahah! I see that got your attention. See you in the next one.

~ Greg from FretDojo

 

Join The FretDojo 30 Day Jazz Guitar Challenge

Instant access:

•  A step-by-step guide on building core improvisation skills

• Fundamental comping techniques to be a hero on the bandstand

• Make cool sounding improvised solos straight away WITHOUT confusing music theory

• The ultimate fast path for establishing a foundation in jazz guitar

• Instant access – find out more and sign up by clicking the button below:

Mistake #5

Mistake #5: Neglecting Rhythm.

Rhythm issues are very common amongst guitarists, and can manifest as a gross or subtle problem. As a gross problem it is actually…well, gross in every sense of the word.

Sometimes people manipulate the rhythm in the name of playing with what’s called a rubato feel, i.e. using the subtle stretching and compressing of the rhythm as an expressive device. Do this too much though, and you’ll get comments similar to the following I got in a guitar competition once from one of the judges:

“You are making me seasick.”

More often though, rhythm problems are mainly down to a lack of awareness of rhythm feel. This is tricky though as unless you have an external reference it won’t be easy to develop a good understanding of this. However, help is at hand with the following techniques:

Option 1: Use a metronome

This sounds like the logical choice. A metronome is a simple device that is like a clock in that it ticks regularly however you can set the speed of how often it ticks. This can give a good indication of whether your rhythm is correct or not. They are also very cheap now thanks to smartphone apps. If you want the more traditional physical device, Korg makes this excellent model.

I have found with my students though a metronome is rather difficult to play along to. Especially at slower tempos as the clicks are too far apart unless you subdivide the beats, and that usually sounds rather unpleasant on a metronome. So if you aren’t a metronome fan I would suggest:

Option 2: Use a drum machine

Drum machines are excellent to play along with as they give a much more complex rhythm pattern in the background, which ironically makes it much easier to play to as the beats are subdivided but feels much more natural and pleasant to play along to. These days you don’t need tons of money for a drum machine thanks to handy ios apps (you can probably tell by now I’m a bit of an app junkie). Try Garageband for iPad or iPhone, it has a brilliant drum machine that can create nearly any beat you could need on the fly.

Option 3: A real drummer or other musician

This is probably the best option (as long as they have a decent rhythm feel themselves!). After all, rhythm is a living, breathing thing; it’s not a precise click of an electronic device. So the best (and most fun) way to develop your rhythm is in a group. A drummer obviously would be the best way to go but any other competent instrumentalist will also really help you develop.

Once I have one of the reference points suggested above, I would then record myself playing along with the metronome/drum machine/other person. Use the self-assessment and recording skills outlined in chapter 3 to do this. Problem solved.

Your Assignment:

Record yourself but listen carefully to your rhythm feel. Now try the same thing but with one of the reference points listed above. Any problems? You could really gain some insights into your playing with this technique.

Rhythm is the cornerstone of music. So ensure that you have taken the time to lay the foundations.

The next instalment will touch on a topic that should concern all guitarists – and chances are it is being ignored. See you in the next one!

~ Greg from FretDojo

 

Join The FretDojo 30 Day Jazz Guitar Challenge

Instant access:

•  A step-by-step guide on building core improvisation skills

• Fundamental comping techniques to be a hero on the bandstand

• Make cool sounding improvised solos straight away WITHOUT confusing music theory

• The ultimate fast path for establishing a foundation in jazz guitar

• Instant access – find out more and sign up by clicking the button below:

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