Practising well on the guitar does not come naturally and goes against what we instinctively want to do. Teaching people how to practice becomes very difficult as you ask people not to do what they have done all their lives when learning anything. It goes against that taught in schools and other learning environments, yet the foremost experts on learning state these methods are the best way to develop a skill. These experts also say that students who learn the quickest way and see great results would prefer to learn by the usual methods.
One of the critical points of learning is variation in learning. An example is learning chords and chord changes. It is instinctive to focus on the one set of chord changes to develop this skill before moving on to the next, yet we are trying to learn to change between ALL chords. Therefore, we should use different chords each time we practice our changing skills. Very frustrating as we feel like we are getting nowhere, yet the skill gained significantly faster and more adaptable to chords we have not learned yet.
The next critical point is time spent learning. Learning is a different skill from making a task instinctive. The first five minutes of learning is long term memory. After that, it becomes short term memory, so we need to limit our time spent learning a new skill. A timer is essential when learning a new skill to ensure we do not waste time. Most people have experienced this without realising it, “I managed to get this yesterday, and now I can’t do it again.” Sound familiar? The work and effort have gone into short term memory, and success is made and disappears as the skill gained is only short term.
A frequent question then is how do these people spend more than 5 minutes on a technique? The answer is by isolating the various aspects of the technique, working on each part for 5 minutes or less, with a brief interrupt exercise in between to refocus the brain and restart the clock. Learning how to do his part will make you a better guitar player. Unfortunately, it is the hardest part of these examples. Various aspects of any technique (not limited to this list) are left hand, right hand, synchronisation between each hand, the tension in each hand, efficiency of motion, accuracy. That’s 30 minutes on the one skill, excluding the short interrupt exercise between each 5-minute session. However, there will be a long-term improvement on each aspect, leading to a massive improvement overall.
This last skill of focusing on one aspect of what you are learning is challenging as we want to correct the other mistakes we make at the same time. Learning this focus creates a massive increase in learning ability