How to develop insane shredding skills
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4 keys to getting better fast!
In this blog, and in the next to come, I’m going to show you specific ways in which you can speed up your learning curve. I will take you through each and everyone of the principles I developed and used to build my own level of playing skill. I’m also going to show you a way to predict the future. Let me explain: When ever people are super motivated to practice, it's because they have a clear image of where that practice will bring them. They know what they're doing and they know exactly why they are doing it.
When ever people don't feel like practicing they don't have a clear and compelling idea of where they want to go, and more important: they don't have any certainty that their practice will give them anything great in a short period of time. So every time they see someone playing at a skill level far above theirs, they get discouraged instead of motivated, simply because they immediately see in front of them, a vast field of practicing time that goes far into the horizon. So the brain goes: "I'd really like to play like that but I'm not willing to endure all the practice time and wait for that long before I get it".
You’ll be able to predict the future
This course will show you a way to precisely predict exactly how much time it will take you, to learn any lick or run - and why is this important? Because when you can take anything you'd like to learn, analyze it, break it down and come up with a precise prediction of the amount of hours you need to spend to learn it, you will no longer have the demotivating uncertainty inside. I started creating this system twenty years ago and when I made this particular discovery my level of enthusiasm went up explosively.
I practiced like a maniac for two years. All though I had six to eight hours of school to attend to I managed to practice six to eight hours a day anyway. I didn't push myself to do it, it just came naturally because I knew what I wanted, AND i could predict exactly how much effort I had to put in to get it. The uncertainty was completely gone and the road was clear in front of me. When passion flows freely, practise becomes fun. There is no "have to" anymore. And there is no discouragement.
"Mastering the fretboard has very little to do with hours of tedious repetitive practice"
The passion to learn and practice
When you follow this system you will make so much progress in so little time, that it will astound you. Back then I literally took licks that looked completely impossible for me to play, and within four weeks I played them, as fast and as precise as humanly possible. I kid you not: Mastering the fretboard has very little to do with hours of tedious repetitive practice, but it has everything to do with programming your brain to work wonders for you. Back then I had to practice AND I also had to come up with the right way to practice.
So you don’t have to spend that much time getting better but we’re going to come back to that. Practicing super effectively, cutting your practice time in half, being able to predict when you'll be able to play what you want to play and having the constant passion for practicing and learning will ultimately make you a true master of your instrument. So let's get going!
The four key principles
We're going to start this series of blogs by getting the right tools for practicing effectively. My system consists of 4 basic practicing tools and they are:
3. Isolating Challenges
4. The Metronome Game
In this blog I’m going to cover the first principle of the four. As if there where not rules enough in this world I’m creating one more - Rule number one:
The more practice the more progress
This is still king, but if you think practice alone will get you there, you are mistaken. I’ve heard people recommend ten hour practice sessions and I promise you - If you practice ten hours in a row, you won’t be that much better at the end of the day. The whole idea of practicing is to make very complex and minute movement of the the body a part of the normal patterns of movement in the brain.
"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence"
You want to make monster fast guitar playing as easy as getting in and out of bed. (Well getting out of bed isn’t always easy but you know what I mean) Practicing is communication. This is the first point that we must understand. The brain already has the ability to do whatever you ask of it. It is already able to play super fast. But you have to convince it that the pattern of movement you want, is important enough to implement as an automatic response. I’ll explain with an analogy:
Practicing is programming
When you program a computer the first thing you have to know is the language in which you will have to program the computer. It crucial that you know the nature of the machine and how you program it most effectively. The more skilled you are as a programmer, the easier it is to create whatever you want. The better you are at speaking the language of the computer, the easier it is to communicate with it and get results fast. Practicing is a matter of programming your brain to do what you want it to do, and fast! So it’s worth spending some time to understand how the brain works. When you are practicing you are basically sending three messages to your brain:
1. What?: What pattern of movement you want it to be able to perform
2. How?: How fast you want it to perform it
3. Importance?: How important it is to remember the pattern.
I'm going to cover all of them in this blog.
The first thing the brain is asking for is a precise definition of what you want it to do. Exactly what is it supposed to do specifically? The first important point here is that you have to practice slow what you want to play fast. Sounds pretty obvious but it isn’t. Most people start of practicing a run or a lick, using a pattern of movement that will not work a higher speed. They play the notes slow but they use a pattern of movement that they would never use at high speed. For example, circular pick movement will only work up to a certain speed then it fails to deliver. Picking fast is a radically different pattern of movement than playing slow.
Time for a break: The diminished triad fits nicely with the blues scale, giving you those nasty sounding notes to play with
When you play slow, you tend to use much larger movements with much more detail than when you’re playing fast. Using these movement will program the brain to play slow, not fast. But using minute, robot-like picking movements will teach the brain what to do when the speed increases. If we tell the brain to adopt a pattern that cannot be played fast, it will want to change to another pattern of movement as the speed increases, but it can’t, because we haven’t shown it how! So we hit the upper limit of what is possible with the technique / pattern of movement we have – and we get frustrated and tell ourselves that we just can’t play any faster than that.
"Everyone can learn to play super fast - it’s a matter of mechanics not talent"
Because most people practice a pattern of movement that they will never be able to play very fast they hit a wall at a certain pace because the pattern of movement they practice won’t take them where they want to go. When they hit that upper limit they get discouraged and conclude that they don’t have the talent or what ever to play that fast. Let me assure you that while musical ability might require a little talent, speed does not. Everyone can learn to play super fast it’s a matter of mechanics not talent. You can play the right notes with the wrong movements and never get any faster!
The second thing the brains want’s to know is how fast you want it to play the pattern. And there’s only one way to communicate that: By playing faster than you can. While it’s important to practice the pattern slowly, it’s crucial that you hit your upper speed limits frequently to tell the brain that you want more. The rest of the body work sin the same way: When you want to build a muscle you have to lift heavy weights. But it’s in the moment of “muscle failure” when all the growth happens.
It’s at the point where you cannot possibly do another rep but you go for one more anyway, that all the growth happens. Simply because the brain receives the signal that “the current level of strength isn’t sufficient, we must build more!” and then it goes to work. That’s what happens when you 1. teach the brain specifically what to play by playing slow what you want it to play fast in every detail. 2. Frequently challenges your own speed limits and deliberately try to go beyond them by focusing and concentrating intensely on it.
The brain has a special place for things like riding a bike or playing the guitar. When it decides to put a pattern of movement in that special place, it locks it in for good. When you practice playing fast, your only goal is to get the brain to put those licks and sequences in that part of the brain. Have you ever experienced returning to a lick you thought you where pretty good at, only to realize that you’d almost forgot it? This is the brain getting rid of what it thinks is useless information. Any information that isn’t used regularly it disposes of, and any pattern of movement that you don’t use regularly it will forget.
"Though it is necessary to practice quite a lot to build speed, it is equally important to not practice"
So what happens is this: You learn, and you forget it partially again, then you relearn it and forget it partially again, right up until the day where the brain decides to put that pattern of movement in that special place it has. Then you won’t forget it ever again. That’s the most powerful place in the brain there is. It’s the place of automation. And high speed picking and playing has to come from that place. My next blog is about how to use this process consciously to shorten the amount of time you have to practice radically. We are approaching a paradox here: though it is necessary to practice quite a lot to build speed, it is equally important to not practice. I hope you’ll tune in next time. Have a great time until then and remember to play with power!
Tags: free guitar lesson steve vai paul gilbert yngwie malmsteen