10 Ways To Improve Your Playing Without Even Touching The Guitar
Published: 7 May, 2021

– give the old box a rest. Many things can be learnt in your head while walking down the street –

Given the determined and obsessive nature of most instrumentalists, in which category I include myself too, it may come as a welcome relief to realise just how much you can and should do away from the instrument. All of it can be done from the comfort of your own home. But pause a moment, that is if you can tear yourself away from your practice, to reflect how much dead time you have on your hands: walking to College or to work or to catch a bus, sitting in it, listening to boring old lecturers droning on, coming home to grumpy mum telling you off for not eating your din dins. Need I go on? During all this time you could be filling your head with the following thoughts. Enjoy!

Listen to other players on YouTube. Learn from how they play – well or badly.

Sing or whistle the pieces you are learning. You will be surprised how naturally you phrase without the technical burden of playing the instrument.

Read all you can about the life, musical and historical background of the composer and of his/her ideas about music and interpretation.

Check your memory: name all the notes in sequence of the pieces you have learnt. Reminder- put that guitar away.

Check your memory: visualise all the frets and strings and fingerings. Name them all in sequence one at a time. You may drive yourself potty doing so. This is more safely done while walking rather than driving.

Total recall: visualise the notes,frets, strings and fingerings patterns all at the same time.

7 Fretboard knowledge: call out a note, any note,say g#, and locate it on all the strings. Name the frets in rhythmic sequence. I suggest one per second.

Fretboard knowledge: concentrate on a position, for example the 9th, and name the notes under the 1st and 4th fingers on all the strings. Call them out in rhythmic sequence. I suggest one per second.

Imagine the ideal tone/sound you wish to make. Don’t close your eyes, you might bump into the lamp post.

Imagine how you are going to make the ideal sound – free stroke, rest stroke, over the sound hole etc etc.

You have now reached your destination. Fold up this part of your mind, get on with the rest of the day, and wait impatiently to put it all into practice later today.

This has been my rough guide to learning without the guitar on your lap.

First published 7th March, 2015, Madrid

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