All Posts by Jamie Andreas

About the Author

Jamie Andreas has one goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to learn guitar is successful. After her first 25 years of teaching, she wrote the world acclaimed method for guitar "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar". She put everything into this method that was essential for success on guitar. Called "The Holy Grail" of guitar books, the Principles has enabled thousands of students who tried and failed to play guitar for years or even decades, to become real guitar players. In 2012 Jamie was profiled in "Guitar Zero" (Penguin Press 2012), a study of how adults learn to play guitar. Jamie was interviewed along with some of the worlds leading guitarist/teachers, including jazz legend Pat Martino and Tom Morello ("Rage Against The Machine").

Jan 20

Why People Struggle To Learn Guitar

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

Why People Struggle To Learn Guitar

Very likely, you’ve already seen many guitar lessons and methods, and perhaps have had a teacher or two. Why have none of these resources given you what you need to build this first level of success on guitar?

Knowing the answer to this question is vital, because it is going to show you what is missing from all those wonderful guitar lessons you are trying to learn from. Whether you are beginning, or recovering, you need to know these things so that you can avoid these pitfalls, and travel firmly on the path to real guitar success that I will show you.

Watch this short video and you will get a good understanding of why the guitar instruction you have had so far has not given you the essential First Level of Success On Guitar!

If you want to build the essential FIRST LEVEL OF GUITAR SUCCESS

You will find everything you need to know, and everything you need to do in

"The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar"

The ONLY guitar training method that sets you up for SUCCESS, instead of failure!

This package is best if you are beginning to learn guitar.

The "Principles" book & DVD will show you exactly what you need to know and do to train your fingers for relaxation & control, and get solid results from every practice session.

PLUS

"First Chords & Songs" to teach any beginner their first chords PERFECTLY!

This package is best if you can already play but are stuck in your progress.

Jan 20

Why Is The Principles The Best Way To Learn To Play Guitar?

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

Why Is The Principles The Best Way To Learn To Play Guitar?

Guitar Tip: You Are Not Learning Guitar, You Are Training Your Fingers!

The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar

The first thing that might come to mind in answering this question is to say “The Principles is the best method to learn to play guitar  because it enables anyone to learn to play, even those who have nothing but a history of failure with all past efforts”. Well, that is a true statement, but it is merely descriptive, it merely describes the results of using the method. I want to look more deeply; I want to look at why it is so effective.

The first and most overarching reason the Principles is the best way to learn to play guitar is directly related to what is wrong with all existing methods, and that is this: all existing methods for learning guitar teach you from the logic of the guitar itself, and not from the logic of how the body learns and develops. And so, even though the hardest place to play on the guitar is the first fret, even though starting to learn by learning the notes down there will absolutely cause moderate to great excess tension throughout the whole body (especially for the beginner), and even though this tension will become locked into the muscles and severely affect all future playing -- still, that is where every method begins, down at the first fret. And why?

Well, because that is called the first fret, so I guess we should start there, huh? That makes about as much sense as learning to type by learning “A” first, then “B’, and so on through the alphabet, rather than allowing the learning method to be dictated by the actual structure of words and sentences.

It is of supreme importance to realize the fact that when we learn to play the guitar, we are not, in fact, learning to play the guitar. We are learning to use our body to create music from the guitar -- that is what we are doing. We are learning to use muscle, nerve, and bone, to create music from strings, wood, and frets. Because this is what we are really learning, we must allow our method to be dictated by the logic and rules of the body’s learning process and operation, not according to the physical construction of the guitar itself. Let the guitar makers be concerned with that!

I have given one example of how this wrongheaded approach degrades the learning process, I could give hundreds more. Because the physical reality of playing is ignored, because the fact that we are really learning to use the body, not play the guitar, is not recognized, all training methods are a torment to the body, and continually violate the laws by which it learns – and those laws are the laws of motor control learning.

All of those laws are recognized in The Principles, and their unbreakable power is used to master the guitar, not become its slave. There is an old saying “you cannot break the law, you can only break yourself against it”. This is what happens for so many guitar students, and it happens because conventional teaching methods remain in the Dark Ages.


The Visible & The Invisible

When we follow the correct path in learning guitar, the path that understands, respects, and works with the body’s own laws, amazing things happen as time goes by. What are these amazing things? Well, there are two parts to them, the inside parts and the outside parts, the invisible parts and the visible parts.

The visible parts are on display anytime you see a great player. You watch the great player, and you cannot believe that all of these wonderful sounds are coming out of the guitar, and it looks so effortless! You say, “My God, when I try that it is so difficult to do, and it feels difficult. How does he do that and make it look so easy!?” The great player truly appears to be one with the guitar, and all sense of struggle is absent. Quite the opposite, there is a palpable sense of equanimity, even joy.

These are the things you can see. The reason they appear the way they do, is because of everything you can’t see.

Those who have found and followed the true path to instrumental mastery have achieved a profound state of communion between their physical body, and the body of the guitar. They are not doing what most people do on the guitar. Most people play ON the guitar, and play ON the strings. The great player has seen the uselessness of that . The great player has learned to play WITH the guitar, and especially WITH the strings. The difference is as great as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug (apologies to Mark Twain!).

What does it mean to play with the string instead of on the string? It is quite simple really, and the essential phenomenon is within the experience of most people. Most of us have, at some time in our lives, dived off a diving board. Or, perhaps you have played basketball. In both of these circumstances, we are directing our body to interact with a flexible medium, i.e. the diving board or the basketball. Both of these flexible mediums, like the guitar string, are sources of potential energy, they both contain “spring”.

The good diver or basketball player, like the great guitarist, has learned to play WITH the board or ball. This means they have learned how to bring their body into an active relationship with the flexible medium so as to USE its potential energy, not be used by it. If you walk to the end of the board and start bouncing up and down, you can do it in such a way that you are able to bounce incredibly high with great ease. This happens if your body is in sync, or is entrained properly to the flexible medium; both of you are moving in tandem, moving with each other. If it is done wrong, it feels terrible, and you get no bounce because you are not tapping the energy of the board, you are in opposition to it instead (this oppostition will always include rigidity, tension, and the inability to relax after efforts). Likewise, if you dribble the ball without having your body in proper communion with the ball, well, you will look like me every time I tried to play basketball!

This is what it means to play WITH the strings, and not ON the strings.

Everything found in my methods for guitar promote the ability to play with the strings, and there are many ways to foster this great sensitivity of the hands, arms, and body that is the prerequisite for this exalted state. Unfortunately, there are even more ways to ruin the body’s sensitivity to play with the strings, and many of those things, to some degree, happen to virtually every guitar.player.

Transformation

Although The Principles may seem complex to someone on their first encounter, at its heart, it is simplicity itself. All of the specific methods that we employ are based upon seeing certain fundamental truths, and the seeing of these truths is called understanding. Once these understandings have taken firm root in a players mind, that player is equipped to embark on an endless journey, a journey of transformation of their life as a guitar player.

Many long time users of The Principles are living testimony to this process. The difference between their guitar playing before The Principles and after is like the evolution of a helpless infant into a capable and functioning adult. They watch themselves go from a state of complete inability to “get anywhere” with the guitar, to a position of firm confidence in their power to move anywhere they wish on the guitar playing continuum. They experience a complete transformation as guitarists; they have been empowered , and the power is now inside them, theirs to nurture and increase. They have learned to align the power of their own minds with the truth of how the body learns, and thereby dominate the guitar and its possibilities.

At some point, users of the Principles realize that these truths have been sitting there all along, waiting to be noticed and understood by anyone paying attention. They begin to realize that the attitude of mind by which they have now learned these things is the most important thing of all, and the most powerful. The power of Attention and Intention, the necessity for maintaining the complete openness to each moment of experience that we call Beginners Mind, is seen as the key to their own process of growth.

Very often, a person who has reached this point begins to use these same inner powers in other areas of life endeavors, and discover a greatly enhanced ability to learn anything. They realize that the same things that prevented insight and ability on guitar are preventing insight into life’s other challenges as well. In the ten years since The Principles went worldwide, we have had many letters from students thanking us for that.

The Principles will change your relationship to the whole thing you think is “playing the guitar”. You will learn, over time, that it is nothing like what you thought. You will find that more is asked of you than has ever been asked before, and you will discover parts of your self you did not know were there. If you meet the challenge, you will be transformed as a player, and very possibly as a person.


Endless Discovery

When this new relationship with the guitar has taken root and had time to grow, your guitar playing life will become very exciting, and that is because you will be in a constant state of discovery, change, and improvement. When The Principles are understood on a deep level and your entire relationship to playing and practicing guitar has been turned around, you are ready to make another discovery.

You are ready to realize that The Principles can never be learned, they can only be done. Learning is always in the past, the next truth you need to see is always sitting in front of you waiting to be recognized in the present moment. And so, the heart of my teaching is not merely a body of knowledge to be learned and a set of procedures to be performed in a generic fashion. It is rather an insight and an understanding that leads you not merely to a way of doing with the guitar, but ultimately to a way of being with the guitar. You will “be with” the guitar differently than ever before, and that way of “being with” the guitar will constantly reveal the path of growth, and provide the power to travel it.

Getting to Now

The Principles is an open system, not a closed system. Every discovery you make will be the doorway to the next. The Principles is your guide on the path that leads from one door and through the next. As you travel from one doorway of insight and ability to another, you will often travel on paths that are unlike any you have seen before, and that is why you must practice Beginners Mind, otherwise, you will be looking for something you have seen before, and miss the new truth in front of you.

Long division is a closed system, you learn the rules, you apply them, and you solve any problem that can be solved by this set of rules applied to this set of relationships between numbers. When it comes to growth as a guitarist, we are primarily dealing with the process of becoming aware of our unawareness. In this process there is an infinite number of variables, and there is no set of finite rules by which it can be done. It can only be done by the introduction of something outside the system, and that something is a part of your being that is outside the limited awareness from which your present limitations, or “problems” are arising. The power to bring about this expanded awareness is always determined by the intensity of involvement in your personal present moment, not in someone’s rule, which is by definition, a past artifact.

The Principles will teach you how to “be now” every time you are with the guitar. They will release you from your prior state of ignorance and inattention. They will release you, in the mind as well as the body, from the destructive forces that have taken over your relationship with the guitar. Movement will occur.

As you move along your path of development, everything you have learned up to the present moment will bring you to the jumping off point from which you can reach a new place.However, at the same time, you must be free of everything you know, and everything you think you know, in order to leave where you are and arrive somewhere new. Your next discovery, your next truth, is never in the past, it is always waiting for you now, if you can get to now. Whatever you are holding on to cannot be the ultimate truth, because truth cannot be caught, it cannot be held on to and made to stay in one place. If it could it would not be free, and if there is one thing every artist in search of truth knows it is that the truth is free. And it gives itself to who it will, to those it finds deserving.

It is not that one truth is replaced by another. Rather, it is that each truth realized previously is brought into a higher context; it is subsumed in a “higher truth”. You now look down upon the lower truth and realize that it is still there and valid on its level, but now you see it in a larger set of relationships. That is because truth, for a human being, is an ever expanding, ever becoming Reality. It is a tapestry, and as you gather the threads, the picture is ever greater, and clearer. The process of “realization” is the process of making it real for you personally, and bringing yourself into relationship with that greater vision. Then, your power increases.

Only by being completely in your now moment, with your complete self, can you be led to the new. And so, the now is the doorway to the new. Now is always new, and new is always exciting. That is how you know that you really “get it”; when your practice is like mine: exciting, moving 100 mph, always interesting and fulfilling. If it is not, you have not yet learned to be free.

The Method of No Method

In the final analysis, this is why the principles is superior to every other method -- because it is not a method -- although it looks like one on the outside. When you have truly “gotten the point” you will realize that methods are stationary, methods are dead. Understanding, seeing the truth, creates endless methods, and this understanding is the real prize.

“The Way To Do Is To Be” said the great sage Lao Tzu in his classic of wisdom the “Tao Teh Ching”. When you fully grasp this method that is no method, when your doing on the guitar proceeds from the intensity of your being with the guitar, you will be more than a guitarist, and more than a musician. You will be an artist; and you will truly be able to claim the guitar as your own.

Jan 18

A look inside The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

A look inside The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar

From Chapter One...

One of the biggest myths and misunderstandings that I would like to dispel is the idea that a lot of time spent practicing is the key to playing guitar well. It doesn't matter how much time you spend if you don't know the correct things to do, and the correct way of doing those things. Fifteen minutes of correct practice will do you more good than 5 hours of incorrect, unintelligent practice. (Actually, bad practice doesn't do you any good at all. It just makes you better at playing badly!

Understanding: There are no "mistakes", only unwanted results

In order to practice effectively, we must change our idea of what the word "mistake" means. When a mistake happens in our practice, there is usually an immediate emotional reaction. Some annoyance, some feelings of inadequacy, and probably the feeling that it shouldn't have happened, or probably won't again. It was some act of God. (This is especially true when playing in front of someone else, when all the weak spots come out).

The fact is there is always a reason for mistakes. They always have a cause. Usually, the cause is not even that difficult to uncover if you know how to look. If we have allowed our first finger to be held stiffly, sticking up in the air, in reaction to what our fourth finger is doing, we shouldn't be surprised if that first finger misses it's next note, especially in a fast piece.

I have learned over the years that we deserve every mistake we make. In fact, we have created and guaranteed them by the way we practice. They are simply the result, or effect, of our practice. Our practice is the cause. This is good news, because if we change the cause, we will get a different effect, or result. This means we can figure out how to get the result we want.

So begin to replace the word "mistake" with a much more accurate and useful phrase. A "mistake" is just an unwanted result. No emotion attached to it. Our job is to know the result we want, and figure out how to produce that result by working according to our understanding of the mechanics of playing.

From Chapter Two...

Muscle Memory: Understanding: How The Fingers Learn

Our fingers have this amazing ability, as does every muscle in your body, to "remember" anything they do. We all use this ability of the muscles in different ways in various things we do in life. We’re all familiar with how a carpenter will take a few practice swings with a hammer before striking a nail. He will slowly bring the hammer to the nail head, guiding his arm and the hammer along the path he wants them to take when he swings fast and with force. Then, after a few practice swings, he’ll let it fly. The muscles "remember" the path they took at the slow speed, and have no trouble repeating the exact movements necessary to take that path again, and hit the nail accurately.

The same process occurs in practicing an instrument. The person practicing performs various movements with the fingers, directed to a certain result. If the movements were done slowly and accurately, with no extra tension in the muscles involved, the fingers would have no trouble reproducing them at a faster speed. Why slowly? Because that is the only way to have the mind control the fingers and make them do what is desired, and keep extra tension to a minimum, or eliminated entirely. That’s why the carpenter does his practice swings slowly, so he can control the path of the hammer. What he’s really doing is allowing his muscles to experience the exact movements and adjustments that are necessary to hit the nail accurately. Remember this: Whatever your fingers experience doing slowly, in a state of total relaxation, they will be able to do very quickly.

This ability of the muscles and nervous system of our body to remember and repeat movements they have already experienced is the foundation of how we learn to play the guitar, or any instrument for that matter, and is called muscle memory.

It’s important to realize that this is not some special secret thing only some people have or some people use. We all do it already, but you must understand it and respect it when you practice, in order to be able to practice effectively, that is, get results. The great players understand these things, and they practice like they understand them. You can too!

For You or Against You

Finger memory is a great thing, but it can work for you or against you, because if you do the right thing once, than the wrong thing, and then various combinations of right and wrong, you end up with some pretty confused fingers. This is what most people actually do when they practice, and why they experience little or inconsistent results, and a lot of frustration.

When they practice, they do not make the fingers do the right thing. They are allowing the fingers to make haphazard and inaccurate movements. In ten repetitions of a passage, the fingers may actually do it ten different ways (resulting in various mistakes, wrong notes, or "oops" moments). Usually, the person practicing is not aware of the fact that he was doing it ten different ways. It may be something relatively obvious like using slightly different fingerings, or something more subtle like tension in various muscle groups. The person practicing is not aware of the differences, but the poor fingers are! When the player then tries to play that passage for someone, well, how will they ever know which of those ten ways the fingers might decide to do it?

This leads to a very useful definition of good practice. Good Practice is knowing the right thing to do, and then making sure your fingers do it. This means you must know what the fingers should do, and then you must make them do it over and over. This is another way of saying, "do the right thing and do enough of it".

The key to knowing how to do good practice is to realize that your fingers are your faithful servants and friends. They have great memories, but they have no conscience, that is, they will remember and repeat whatever they do, but they don’t know the difference between right and wrong. So, they are just as happy to do the wrong thing as the right thing, they just do what you have taught them (actually, they are happier doing the right thing, it’s just that they really have no choice, since they can only repeat what they have already done). Since they don’t know if what you just had them do is the right thing or the wrong thing, they leave that up to you. It’s your job to make sure it’s the right thing.

I hope you are intrigued by what you have read so far. There are many more vital Understandings in "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar", as well as the Tools and Exercises which are based on them. Taken together, they will enable you to see why you have had trouble learning to do certain things on the guitar, and most importantly, what to do about it!

From Chapter Four: The Left Hand

The Light Finger And The Firm Finger

We have discovered the Floating Arm, and later we will work with the Heavy Arm. Before that, we need to discuss the two states the fingers will assume when we practice and play: The Light Finger and the Firm Finger.

The Light Finger is the completely relaxed finger brought to the string and touching the string with only the weight of the finger. It does not press the string down until told to do so. We will discover the sensation of the Light Finger in the following exercise.

Foundation EXERCISE #17: Finger Flapping
Discovering The Light Finger


Raise your arms in front of you without the guitar, and take hold of the index finger of your left hand with the thumb and index finger of your right hand. Completely relax the left index and wiggle it around with your right hand. This is the “Light Finger”.

Touch the palm of your right hand with your left index. Raise the left index two inches from the palm. Now let it drop by its own weight back to your palm, touching it very lightly with no pressure. This is how the finger feels when it first touches the string.

Now hold the guitar and do the Balloon, again bringing the hand up so that the index finger is lined up with the ninth fret. Have your fingers in a relaxed curl over the 6th string. Allow your Light, relaxed middle finger to fall to the 6th string, behind the 10th fret, so that it touches the string but applies no pressure. Look at the string under your finger and see the distance between the string and the fingerboard. Make sure the string does not move at all down toward the fret.

Raise your finger an inch, and then bring it back to touch the string again in the same way. Do this over and over, touching the string with the Light Finger, bringing it away, and touching it again. This is called “Finger Flapping”. Do this a few times with each finger every day. Make sure you keep the inactive fingers as relaxed as possible while touching the string with the active finger. This will get you used to the feeling, and over time, very sensitive to the feeling of complete relaxation.

This light feeling is how your fingers will be when they first touch the string to play a note, and it is the feeling they will return to when they release from a note. It enables them to be prepared for their next job. Many people never have this light feeling,  and play with tense fingers all the time. Their playing suffers greatly because of it.


There is a world of wisdom and one​​​-of-a-kind training waiting for you in "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar". You must know and use the information in "The Principles" in order to play guitar well, and keep making progress without constanty running into probems. Get your copy today!

The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar

Jan 18

What You SHOULD Have Learned In Your First Guitar Lesson!

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

What You SHOULD Have Learned In Your First Guitar Lesson!

In this lesson, I tell you the 2 most important concepts a guitar student must know in order to teach the fingers how to move in a smooth and relaxed way. They are:

  • Muscle Memory (YOUR FRIEND)
  • Sympathetic Tension (YOUR ENEMY)

There is a best way for beginners to start to learn guitar so that you do not get all the bad habits most people get. These bad habits will make you struggle to play, and stay stuck and not be able to get better! If you know these secrets from the beginning, it will save you years of struggle! 

The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar by Jamie Andreas

This Method for guitar will start you perfectly, or solve your playing problems.

Dec 27

How To Practice Guitar: The Principles Of Correct Practice

By Jamie Andreas | The Principles

How To Practice Guitar For Maximum Results: Using "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar"

When you know how to practice guitar correctly, you will get maximum results from every practice session. this is the key to playing favorite songs on the guitar easily, with no struggle, and always getting better!

There is a method of practicing guitar that will, step by step, train your fingers for perfect action on the guitar. It is scientific because it follows the laws of "body learning", the same laws your muscles and nerves use to learn new movements. It is called "The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar". 

Virtually all existing guitar instructional material gives you content - not method. They give you notes to learn, chords to play, exercises to do. BUT, they do NOT show you how to practice this content in a way that will effectively teach your fingers to play the music! And so, you are left on your own. You have a go at it. Maybe you will get it, maybe you won't.

Continue reading
Speed on the guitar comes from having
Dec 05

The Secret of Speed On Guitar

By Jamie Andreas | Foundations Of Good Guitar Playing

​What Kills Your Speed?

Many guitar players have trouble building speed on guitar. Until they become aware of a few extremely important facts about guitar playing, they will continue to be unable to build speed and reach a professional level of ability. These factors all have to do with excess muscle tension during playing. This muscle tension comes from these sources:

  • unbalanced sitting with the guitar
  • incorrect hand positions
  • incorrect practice approaches

The first step out of this syndrome is to become aware of this tension. The following information and exercise will help you do that....

Continue reading
Jul 11

Do I Need Natural Talent To Learn Guitar?

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

Many "ordinary" people get the idea in their head that they would like to play guitar. The next thing that pops into their head is "Wait, don't you have to be talented to play the guitar.....umm, I don't know if I am talented or not"....(sigh). Am I kidding myself here, thinking I can learn to play like these obviously talented players I hear, who make me feel so inadequate?"

I spent a lot of time feeling like that myself, before I started teaching full time, saw hundreds, then thousands of people trying to learn the guitar, and then realized the truth.

The Truth About "Natural Talent"

Continue reading
May 25

How Long To Learn YOUR Style Of Guitar?

By Jamie Andreas | The Informed Guitar Student

How Long To Learn  Your Style Of Guitar?

 

3 styles of guitar

Learning the different styles of guitar requires different methods.

What does it take to learn rock guitar? And how long? What does it take to learn acoustic, or classical?.

As important as training the fingers is for a guitar player, there is a lot more to learning guitar. One of the greatest needs you have as a guitar student is to have a guide through the very complex process of changing from an ordinary person into the guitar player you want to be. That process will be different for the various styles of guitar.

There are things that are the same about learning every style, and there are things that are different. For instance, all styles of guitar are played with the fingers! If you do not know how to train the more than 25 muscles that move the fingers so that they gain strength, stretch, and coordination, you will have serious problems learning any style of guitar.Continue reading

May 05

Where Do I Start On Guitar?

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

The PHYSICAL & The MUSICAL: Understanding the 2 Aspects of Learning Guitar

Q: I am 58 old and I am wanting to learn to play the guitar. I do not know where to start!

Hi Jamie,

I can buy all the guitar courses I want but I do not understand the guitar. I am a retired lineman for the power company and I have done a lot of trouble shooting to find out why the electricity went out and find out what I need to do to repair it. In life threatening situations I have understood what is needed to be taken care of first but I can not just jump in and play. I can read music but understanding notes and chords on the guitar leaves me scratching my head. Can you please tell how I can understand the guitar and what do I do first?

Thank you, Christopher

Hi Chris, 

There is ONE very important thing you need to understand Chris. There are 2 aspects to learning guitar, and in the beginning, one is much more important than the other. The 2 aspects are:

1) The PHYSICAL part

2) The MUSICAL part

If you do not have the physical part on guitar, you can never get to the musical part. Think of baseball.....

Continue reading
Apr 25

The Primacy of The Mind In Guitar Practice

By Jamie Andreas | Uncategorized

The title says it all. If you don’t realize that we use the mind to train the body when we practice guitar, you will have very little power to achieve results from your practice.

All of your power to teach yourself to become a guitar player and musician begins with your mind. And you also need to understand that even if you have a teacher, you are still teaching yourself every time you sit down to practice. If you don’t know what to do, and you don’t know how to do it, you will wander aimlessly.

Continue reading