GET OUR GUITAR SUCCESS SERIES! Learn to practice correctly....get rid of tension & bad like a pro!

* indicates required
The Guitar Principles  
The TRUTH about Learning Guitar
The Basics > Practice Theory > Practicing One Thing is Practicing Everything!

Practicing One Thing is Practicing Everything!

The Basic Practice Approach ties together everything in The Principles into a working method for training the fingers to do whatever we want them to do on the guitar. At a recent workshop, I was demonstrating The Basic Practice Approach to the class by sitting there and practicing something I had recently been working on, a passage about one measure long from a piece I had just written for guitar.

I explained that I had to work on this for about two weeks to get it right; two weeks to train my fingers to do what they couldn’t do before.

I began by explaining that the passage contained a major stress point, a spot where great tension was generated in the muscles of the playing mechanism because of a difficult stretch required by the index, while other fingers were also stretched out, and delicate control was required on the right hand. I demonstrated that the first thing I did about this passage was to isolate that part, and “pose” on it for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. (Identifying, isolating, and Posing of stress points is a major technique for problem solving in The Principles, and is contained in step two of the Basic Practice Approach).

Then, I demonstrated moving on to step 3, going from no tempo to slow tempo. I played the passage, which consisted of all eighth notes, at 60 bpm, taking a full 4 clicks for each note. I explained that if I could not do this, including playing through the stress point previously posed on, and then I should not allow myself to go any further; I would be fooling myself if I thought I would be able to bring the passage up to a faster, smooth tempo.

Fortunately, because I had done enough posing on that stress point, I was able to go smoothly through it.
This meant I qualified for the next speed, 80 at 4 clicks per note. I explained that during the time I as waiting for the next note, my mind was extremely active, checking my entire body for relaxation by using Rotating Attention, and making sure all the details of finger placement were precise for both hands as each note was played, and the next note was being prepared.

I then proceeded to work that passage right on up to 80 in eighth notes, that is, two notes per click, which is the tempo it needs to be played at. Now, of course, it sounded like music. (In the beginning, of course, it did not sound like music.) One of the things I explained to the group was that if you are practicing correctly, like a professional, there will be many times during your practice that anyone listening would think you were just beginning to learn guitar!

So, in essence, I had given these students a peek into my practice room, demonstrating for them the REAL process of practice that a professional guitarist would use to solve problems. It was at this point that one of the attendees, Peter, asked THE question! Actually, it was in the form of a statement, and it is probably the statement that prevents many people from using and benefiting from The Principles. He said “Yeah, but if I do that with everything that needs it, it will take me a hundred years to get through all my material.”.

Now, I was tempted to answer flippantly with “yeah, so? What are you in some kind of hurry or something?” But, I decided to take mercy on his soul, and explain the situation.

The answer really is in two parts: knowing how to “compact” your practicing, and understanding that “practicing one thing is practicing everything”. These two concepts, when understood and used, enable us to deal with our playing problems as they need to be dealt with, and enable us to create real, Vertical Growth. 

 Compacting Your Practicing

It took me about ten minutes to bring that passage from no tempo, to slow tempo, to “up tempo”, or performance speed. Now, it must be understood that when I first started working on it, I had to spend a few days ONLY DOING NO TEMPO PRACTICE, along with posing on the stress points. Only after a few days of building into my muscles the correct feelings and reactions, did I test myself by trying a slow tempo.

At this point in the practice process, the metronome comes in. The metronome is used here as a TEST of the efficacy and integrity of our previous practice. In other words, if I can’t do it at the slow tempo of 60 at 4 clicks, PERFECTLY, then I have not done enough no tempo and posing, or I have not done it properly, (which means the bottom of my practice is not deep enough).

After a few days, I tried slow tempo practice, and the passage was holding up. I was getting all the notes, and I was comfortable, and everything looked and sounded good. Now, at this point, I begin a “work up”.
I see how far I can push it. After about six days of practice on the passage (devoting maybe 15 minutes a day to this passage), I find I can do it comfortably at 60, one click per note. That’s good, I am almost halfway there!

Here is where I begin to “compact my practice”. I begin to leave out some of the intermediate speeds during my work up. I move the metronome by larger increments. I rely on the muscle memory that I have already built in during the first phase of practice to work for me. So, here is what I do:

Every day, I follow the first two steps of the Basic Practice Approach. I think, and review what I have previously discovered about this passage, so that I can apply it to today’s practice. Then, and this is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, I re-visit the bottom of my practice, and make it deeper if I can. In other words, I do powerful, no tempo practice on the passage.

This is key. Most people, in learning music, stop doing their slow practice on a passage after they feel they know it. They begin to only play it fast. If you only play your music fast, it will, after awhile, begin to “deteriorate”. You must always clean, renew, and rebuild the reflexes and muscle memory by visiting the bottom of your practice. It is the intermediate speeds that can be condensed and compacted in order to save time as the amount of material to be covered gets larger.

This particular passage I was using as an example was in a piece I had planned to play at the workshop. So, since I knew I was going to perform it, I had in the last few days “compacted my practice” of the passage. I did good no tempo practice on it, and then my workup consisted simply of playing it at 60 4 clicks, then 2 clicks, then 1 click, then eighth notes. I did the same at 80, and I was good to go! All of that only took about two minutes on the passage, not a bad investment of time to make sure I didn’t mess up that passage. And guess what, I didn’t! I am happy to say the passage held up nicely when I played it.

Now, let me explain the “practicing one thing is practicing everything” concept. Many people, when told what real, correct practice is, still don’t do it because they feel that it would take too long, they would never learn to play all the music they want to learn, and so forth. Of course, the truth is the exact opposite. If you don’t do this slow, careful, and methodical approach that you think takes so long, then, you will never learn all that music. You will just convince yourself that you have learned it. But, it will be hard to convince other people if you happen to play for them!

It became clear to the workshop attendees who sat and watched me do real practice that my fingers were benefiting far beyond that particular passage. In fact, it became clear to them that my practice did not involve merely training my fingers, but rather, I was training my whole body. It became clear that this training would show itself in many other things I would attempt to play that had the same difficulties that I overcame here in this passage.

It became clear that my entire “playing mechanism” was being up-graded by the practice I was doing. And that is exactly right. That is why I get better all the time. That is why anyone who practices like this gets better all time.

In fact, at an earlier time in my development, I would have had to work on that passage for maybe a year in order to get it. Actually, at earlier times in my life, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it at all, no matter how much I practiced. It is only because of the level of playing ability that I presently enjoy because of years of correct practice that I got it so reliably in just two weeks,working on it about 15 minutes a day. The rest of the piece came rather easily, although at another time, I would have found it difficult to impossible, but again, because of years of correct practice, it came easily and did not offer me resistance.

Please realize this. If you can’t play one scale correctly and cleanly, then, you can’t play ANY scale correctly and cleanly. So, if this is the way it is for you, there isn’t much use, from the point of view of technique, to practicing a ton of scales. It would be a much better use of your time to pick one scale and examine it minutely, and practice it correctly and intensely until you begin to get it clean. Then, you will see ALL your scales improve.

This is the meaning of “practicing one thing is practicing everything”. Correct practice opens the door, slowly, one inch at a time to the world of music you want to play. Please realize that the opposite is true as well. Bad practice closes the door, slowly, one inch at a time, to the world of music you want to play.


article 1
Playing Plateaus - How To Get Off!
Every guitar player gets stuck on a plateau from time to time, unable to get better on guitar. Here is what the great players do..................
>
article 2
Guitar Practice and Building Speed: Vital Info
Here is an excellent question about building speed on guitar that is a great area of confusion for guitar students. It shows how careful we must be when listening to the advice of great players!
>
article 3
Creating Coordination with Coupling
Coupling is the bringing together, into one playing moment and motion, of two or more events necessary to produce a note. It is done by intense focus on the tactile sensations of fingers on strings.
>
article 4
Measuring Your Progress On Guitar
Guitar students practice every day, but often have no idea if they are making any progress. There are ways of measuring your progress on guitar, and we have to know them, and use them.
>
article 5
Guitar Speed Exercises: Are They Working For You?
You can find guitar speed exercises all over the web, and in thousands of books. Many guitar students have a pile of these books, but no speed in their fingers. Here's why!
>
article 6
It's Not A Problem, It's A Process
Attitude is everything when it comes to learning guitar. Learning how to see every problem as a process is the key to becoming a great guitar player. In this article, I explain how to do this.
>
article 7
9 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Practice
Here are 9 critical things you MUST be aware of when you practice guitar. Lack of awareness of these things is the root of endless problems.
>
article 8
Perfection & Guitar Playing
What does "perfection" mean for a guitar player. You'd better know, or you could be causing yourself a lot of agony!
>
article 9
Playing From The String
"Playing From The String" is one of the secrets of the masters of guitar. All good players are doing this, even if they don't know what it means! Here's what it mean.....
>
article 10
The 5 Minute Practice Session
Finding a block of time for guitar practice is sometimes difficult. Don't go for days without touching those strings you love! Learn how to make solid progress in just 5 minutes!
>
article 11
Am I Too Old To Learn Guitar?
A lot of "grown ups" want to fulfill their lifelong dream of playing the guitar. But. one nasty, nagging doubt holds them back. Cheer's the good news!
>
article 12
Natural Talent - Do I Need It?
What is "natural talent" for guitar? Few people know, yet many people are sure they don't have it when it comes to guitar! Here is what "natural talent" really means......
>
article 13
The 2 Types of Growth On Guitar: Horizontal & Vertical
There are two kinds of growth we can experience on guitar. I call them Vertical & Horizontal Growth.Both are necessary, but Vertical growth is hard to come by!
>
article 14
Agressive Guitar Practice
Many guitar students make little or no progress because their practicing is not aggressive enough. When you practice, your mind must have the energy of a hurricane and the tenacity of a pit bull!
>
article 15
Review Is Required
Reviewing material we have already worked on, and applying our new and improved skills is essential for reaching our full potential on guitar.
>
article 16
Guitar Principles Recommended Metronomes
A metronome is necessary for guitar practice. Some metronomes are better than others when it comes to doing powerful and correct practice.
>
article 17
Why You Should Use A Metronome For Guitar Practice
Knowing how to use a metronome when you practice guitar WILL make you a better player! Here's why...
>
article 18
Double Trouble
Sometimes the way to make something better on guitar is to make it worse first!
>
article 19
The Importance Of Repertoire
If you have played guitar for more than six months and you do not have a few things you can play from beginning to end, something is seriously wrong!
>
article 20
Changing Bad Habits On Guitar
Virtually all beginners on guitar unknowingly form bad habits. They can last for decades, making you less of a guitar player than you can be. Here is how to get rid of your bad habits.
>
article 21
Guitar Practice Organization
Here's how to find the time for guitar practice and how to organize it. There are 4 essential categories of practice you must organize in your guitar practice they are...
>
you might also like
Technique vs. Musical Feeling
Guitar Foundation Exercises
Play "Day Tripper"!
Finger Rise: A Disease of the Left Hand
Playing Plateaus - How To Get Off!
Guitar Practice and Building Speed: Vital Info
Creating Coordination with Coupling
Measuring Your Progress On Guitar
We Never Email More then Once a Week.
The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar-Hard Copy
Why Is The Principles The Best Way to Learn Guitar?

156 - Why Is The Principles The Best Way to Learn Guitar?

All other guitar methods have serious flaws that leave you struggling on guitar. The Principles is different....
Learn To Play a Guitar by Learning HOW to Practice!

16 - Learn To Play a Guitar by Learning HOW to Practice!

Everything that happens when you play is the direct result of what you do when you practice. Learn to train your fingers EFFECTIVELY when you practice guitar.
Your First Perfect Guitar Lesson

18 - Your First Perfect Guitar Lesson

Many guitar players carry for a lifetime the mistakes they learned when first learning how to play the instrument... Tips to avoid this can be found here!
What Are The Principles?

15 - What Are The Principles?

Those who know "The Principles" know that there is no other guitar method like it. It is the key to using every other method! Find out for yourself.....