Fast & Effortless Fluency – Part one

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I used to believe that if I kept practicing the picking techniques and the sequences, it would eventually come together into this effortless and fluent playing style. But it didn’t happen. Quite often I hear guitar teachers say something like this to their students – and with some amount of pride:

“I can teach you all the tools, but you have to figure out how to put them together and what to do with them because no one can teach you that”

And then we believe that the reason we can’t be taught the last bit is that it’s so magical and mysterious that we have to wait for it to come from above. It never does.

DOING THE RIGHT THING – ACCIDENTALLY

Some people are lucky to do the right things when they “fool around” with their guitar with no agenda or focus on what to practice. They intuitively practice integrating several different techniques and putting multiple sequences and licks together, simply by playing around with them on the fret board. ( I will show you exactly how in my next post)

And the not-so-lucky-ones like myself never knew how to get there. Eventually I got tired of waiting for heavenly powers to fix my playing and started developing insights and exercises that brought about this effortless way of playing.

integration01INTEGRATE: “to put together parts or elements and combine them into a whole” 

INTEGRATING TECHNIQUES

One of the things you must be able to do after having learned a particular technique is to mix it with other techniques as you play. Until this is mastered there will be an invisible fence between the different techniques you use. Going from sweep picking to alternate picking will require you to “shift gears” and you will be forced to take a tiny break when going from one to the other.

They way out of this is to practice all the sequences and licks you know already using as many different techniques as possible. Throw in as many hammer-ons and pull-offs as you can into the alternate picking sequences you already know and practice going from one technique to another in real-time.

You might want to select a simple loop-able sequence that doesn’t go anywhere for this in the beginning. Practice playing it with alternate picking, then with hammer-ons and pull-offs. Then, practice going from one technique to the other without stopping at all. If you can’t, slow down and spend five minutes playing it at a tempo where it is more than possible for you.

ONE RUN USING MULTIPLE TECHNIQUES

The video gives you an example of a decending run in E-Harmonic minor that you can play using multiple techniques. In this case we are looking at alternate picking, hammer-ons and pull-offs and directional picking. The more ways in which you can make the sequence happen, the more relaxed and free you will be when you play and the more effortless fluency you develop.

In my next post I will show you an enjoyable way to work on this while you watch TV. It’s a little “practicing game” that I have refined over time and it will absolutely change the way you play.

“Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune”

Kin Hubbard


Fast & Effortless Fluency – Part one

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