UK guitar virtuoso Guthrie Govan once said in an interview that ‘Great technique is often about making something feel easy’. No Truer word was spoken about playing guitar. A lot of people think that having great technique is about being able to play fast. Whilst speed can certainly be the result of having great technique it is not the ultimate goal. The aim of practicing great technique is to have total physical control over what you are doing on your instrument so that you don’t have to think about how to do something and so can focus on the music being made.
However, technique is an all encompassing aspect of guitar playing and when practicing for great technique you need to make sure that it infuses every aspect of your practice, right from fretboard knowledge all the way to improvisation and jamming. If you focus on developing good technique on only one area of your playing you can develop what I call a practice mindset restriction. So for example, if you were to practice scales whilst working on your technique and nothing else then your scales practice would benefit greatly but there would become little crossover with other areas of your playing. That last example is what basically happened to me and a few years ago I made a conscious effort to change this.
The first thing I did was create a reminder for myself that I had to be watching my technique. Whenever I had a guitar in my hands at home I set a timer on my phone to go off every 5 minutes. That way I was constantly reminded to check my technique. At first this proved very frustrating as I almost always had forgotten what I was meant to be doing but over time things slowly changed in every aspect of my playing as I started to pay attention to how my technique was in every aspect of my playing. The only times that I didn’t do this were in band practice, recording or gigging. That would have been very impractical but my practice started to affect these things as it became more second nature have good technique in the first place.
Of course my technique isn’t perfect now but it’s a damn sight better than it was and as I’m learning new techniques this is still the strategy that I go to once I know what it is that I need to do.
Whatever your technical challenge is you can form the habit of doing things right with this strategy and a little persistence. If this article has been helpful to you then please get in touch and let me know. Alternatively if you have anything to add or would like to see a blog post on something that you have observed when learning guitar or need help with, please get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you!