Overcoming Obstacles Playing Guitar

Overcoming Obstacles by Marc Ferrara

1. Obstacles and Frustration should be a welcome addition to your every day practice. Having said this, let me also say that practicing your instrument every day is an absolute must. Because playing your instrument and practicing your instrument are vastly different, you're more likely to encounter obstacles and frustrations during your practice time. Back to my first statement, this should be welcomed and expected. It just means you're doing something right (usually. Consult your Instructor for this answer). If you're always practicing and running into brick walls, practice harder! This is the difference between a great musician and a complacent, mediocre musician.

I highly recommend practicing harder. Always remember that when you're practicing something over and over, and you hit that obstacle and become frustrated, you're on the verge of accomplishment. When you're at the end of your patience and it seems as though you're never going to get it; it's usually right there that you're on the edge of a break through. For example: I have a student who's just a monster about practicing. He practices any where between 5 and 10 hours each and every day. His determination level is unbelievably high. I like this about him. Anyway, one of the things I like to do is teach both, inside and outside picking. Well, when he was ready, I introduced inside picking. He had outside picking down cold and now he's learning a whole different technique. His entire way of thinking had to change. If you don't already know, these techniques are very unforgiving of each other. You have to stay on top of your practice time with each. Here's my point, it took him months to conquer the second technique and still have complete control over the first. He went through obstacles and frustrations that would make most give up on the second technique. He stuck with it and now he's just a mad man with both the inside and outside picking techniques. It's really cool to hear how he utilizes each one.

Here is something that will help you reach your goal. Relax; don't try to force any thing. Keep this in mind, you're building muscle memory, so if you tense up, you're just making things harder on your self. One of the biggest keys to having a break through in your playing is controlling your practice techniques. Practice slow, practice consistently, and certainly practice your technique, not just the exercise. Practicing in this way will help you achieve a much higher goal. Now, I'm going to say something that a lot of players cringe at. Metronome, metronome, metronome!!! A metronome can be your best friend. Set your metronome at a speed where you're comfortable playing 4 notes per click, then raise the speed just to a point where you can play 4 notes per click, but it's a little uncomfortable. Practice until it becomes comfortable, then bump it up a couple of notches. Repeat this process every day. Pretty soon you'll be blazing through licks you thought were impossible just weeks before.

Focus more, practice harder, and turn your determination up a notch or two. Just remember, if some one else can do it, so can you! Be sure to ask your instructor for constructive criticism. Be sure you're practicing the way you are instructed. Will you be great or will you be complacent/mediocre?

©2006 Marc Ferrara. All Rights Reserved

About The Author

My name is Marc Ferrara. I'm first generation born in the USA. My home town is Chicago, IL. I've been playing guitar since August 26, 1986. My influences were and still are guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Michael Angelo, and Tony MacAlpine. That list can go on for a while. I also dove in head first into the Baroque era. I started taking classes from Tom Hess in December of 1995; a wonderful instructor as well as friend. I currently live in Alabama with my wife Pamela, three cats and one dog. I own a small guitar school called Genesis Guitar Studio and I also teach guitar classes at a local school to 1st – 8th graders.

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