>> Saturday, February 14, 2009
Everybody knows that practice makes perfect, right? Of course they do, but one of the things that I am learning in my journey as a guitar player is that it is truly the QUALITY of practice that matters and not necessarily the quantity of it.
Now, I am not saying that it doesn't take a lot of practice to become good at something, because it does. But it takes a lot of QUALITY practice. I have recently become aware of this, and discovered that in addition to learning to play the guitar, I also needed to learn how to practice. Whoa, did he just say that you have to practice practicing? Yes.
Any of our friends will tell you that we have sort of dropped off the face of the planet in the last year or so because we spend all of our time practicing. I often play for an hour before work, I play for an hour during my lunch break almost every day, and we try to play through our whole list of songs each night after dinner. This means that some days I play for more than FOUR HOURS! But, even with all of that practicing, I still screw up the same parts in the same songs night after night. Hmmm...
I don't claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed, and while I might not become aware of things (even obvious ones) as quickly as some people, I eventually figure things out. What I have figured out lately is that I need to stop mindlessly playing through our list of songs and calling it practice. I need to identify the parts of the songs that give me trouble and focus on those parts.
I can play 95% of the songs we do really well. This means that when I play all the way through the songs, only 5% of the time is spent working on the stuff that really needs work.
I have changed my ways. In the past two weeks, whenever I practiced by myself, I only worked on the stuff that needed work. I still played all the way through the songs each night with Sara, but just the hard parts when I was by myself. So did it work?
We played a show this past Thursday at Linneman's on Milwaukee's East Side and I feel it was the best show I have ever played. Perfect? No, but I made far fewer mistakes than I usually do. I think I was able to hide them from the audience better than I have in the past too. Because I had spent so much more time working on the hard parts of the songs in practice, I played with more confidence than normal, and I think it made the whole performance feel better than ever. To both of us on stage as well as to the people listening.
So, does practice make you perfect? Well, I don't think that you can ever be perfect. I don't think that I would want to be a perfect guitar player, as a matter of fact. I think it would be kinda boring if you could play everything perfectly every time. So I guess that means that my motto is: Practice can't make you perfect, but perfect practice can make you pretty damn good.
Keep on practicing your practicing,