Guitar Practice Lesson: How To Eliminate Mistakes In Your Playing

Author: Tom Hess

Author: Tom Hess

Every guitar player shares the same fundamental goal: ‘To play it correctly’. If you do practice guitar the right way, you will eventually be able to play anything precisely how you want. When this happens you will feel a lot of excitement, which is great except… Over time, the excitement you have will often change into a fear of making mistakes or embarrassing yourself in front of others. This is when the trouble starts…

It’s weird how so many guitarists become much better players than they were previously, yet become fearful of making mistakes instead of inspired to keep getting better. These guitar playing fears and anxieties impact the musical lives of all guitarists. They keep intermediate players from taking action to become advanced players and sabotage the future careers of guitar players who are highly talented.

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As a real world example of this, one of the students in my music career mentoring program recently had the chance to become a member in a band and tour throughout Europe. He had been dreaming of doing this ever since he was a kid, but almost didn’t take the opportunity because he thought he would be ‘good enough’. After I talked with him about this, I helped him understand why he was feeling these fears and coached him to practice guitar much more effectively than ever before. Only a short while afterwards he overcame his fears and toured with the band – having the time of his life in the process.

How was he able to move beyond his fears? More importantly, how can you do the same to become a better guitarist and take your musical skills to the next level?

Guitar players frequently feel ‘more’ insecurity in their playing as they become more advanced because they continually practice in order to ‘get it right’ rather than ‘never get it wrong’. Here is the difference between these two types of practice and how it affects your guitar playing:

Practicing Guitar To ‘Play It Right’ – this is the step everyone must take when they begin learning to play something for the firs time. Your first task is to play the notes correctly, gain confidence in yourself and play whatever you are trying to play. A lot of guitarists stall at this point (after making mistakes) and assume that their playing will just get better on its own. This is NOT how it works! Mastery will ONLY happen after you’ve begun a higher level of practice, such as:

Practicing Guitar To Never Play It Wrong’ – Once you’ve learned to play something on its own in the privacy of your own room, you need to practice it ‘for the real world’. There are three main ‘real world’ situations you must practice for: playing on stage, recording music and integrating all your musical skills together. After you can ‘play it right’, you must answer this question: “what is the scenario in which I will use this item in my guitar playing?” This will tell you precisely how to practice in order to fully master the material and ‘never play it wrong’.

Here are some examples of this:

Practicing Guitar For Playing Live:

To practice guitar for live performance, you need to prepare for the scenarios that occur most during your live shows by simulating them in your practice. Some of the most common things to prepare for include: playing while walking around, playing in dim/no lighting, tuning out distractions, playing while others watch you, playing outdoors and playing on with various types of guitars and amps. Of course, there are more things that can be added to this list. Once you’ve made your own list, incorporate it into your practicing time.

When you take anything that you’ve merely learned to ‘play right’ and played it in the scenarios mentioned above, you will often begin making mistakes. This is a good thing, because it helps you understand what you should be working on in your playing to ‘never play it wrong’ in any given situation.

Practice putting yourself into each of the scenarios above and so you can gain confidence playing in them. The more you practice in this way, the better you will get at it.

Practicing Guitar For Recording In A Studio Situation:

Many guitar players are afraid of making mistakes, so they avoid recording themselves. As a result, they never improve their skills in this area. Once you think you’ve mastered the ability to play something right, you go to record it and suddenly can’t stop making mistakes. Hey, we’ve all been there :)

To get better in recording situations, you must do these two things: First, get into the habit of frequently recording yourself playing guitar (on audio and video). Try to play as perfectly as you can using as few takes as possible. By taking this simple action, you will quickly build confidence and start playing more accurately in any recording situation. Second, learn all of the unique subtleties of your guitar playing that require practice in order to make a high quality recording. To pinpoint these things, check out this free guide to recording guitar and practice improving in this area on a consistent basis.

Practice Using Your Musical Skills Together

Regardless of whether or not you plan on playing live or recording, you still need to integrate the skills you learn together with other techniques so you can use them to do things like play great solos, create songs, etc. You must stop practicing things in total isolation (a common practice mistake made by most guitarists), and start creatively combining them together with other techniques. For example, once you learned a new rhythm guitar riff, you should practice using it in combination with other techniques in a variety of musical scenarios (using different rhythms, tempos, harmony, etc.). You also need to know the best way to use this riff in an actual musical context vs. just as an exercise. Learn how to do these things by watching this guitar practice video.

Note: You might have to practice a specific item in each of the above contexts (or possible just one or two) depending on your unique goals with each item in your practicing routine.

How To Use This Information To Get Better:

Apply the information above by following these steps:

Step One: Identify your specific musical goals. Use this article about creating musical goals to get started.

Step Two: Understand how every practice item brings you one step closer to reaching the goals from the previous step. Determine which exercises you should be practicing by reading this guitar practice exercises article. If you don’t know the purpose of practicing something, stop wasting your time by practicing it!

Step Three: Organize your guitar practice as effectively as possible so that you reach your goals fast. To do this, use a guitar practice schedule creator.

Step Four: Constantly ask the question: “What is the main goal or scenario in which I will use this skill or music in my guitar playing?” so you can move towards your goals and go beyond playing something ‘right’ to ‘never playing it wrong’.

Once you have applied the above steps into your guitar practice routine on a consistent basis, your fear of making mistakes will vanish. In its place will be a greater level of self-confidence and enthusiasm as you get closer and closer to reaching your ultimate musical goals.

Learn how to organize your guitar practice using a guitar practice schedule creator and get maximum results from your efforts so you can reach your musical goals faster.

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and international guitar teacher. He also helps musicians learn guitar online and practice guitar more effectively so they can reach their goals. Visit his rock and metal guitar lessons site to read more articles about guitar playing, plus get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.

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