How to nail this challenge in two months

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If you fail to plan - you plan to fail

This article will show you ways to master all the things I've talked about.  And the first and most essential thing is the concept of planning. This doesn't have to take more than a couple of minutes but it's essential to your success. Planning is deciding what you will do and for how long you will do it. Here's what happens when we don't plan:

  1. We decide on something we'd like to master
  2. Then we go ahead and practice it
  3. After some time it becomes a little boring to play the same thing over and over again
  4. Then we go on to another thing
This process produces amateurs. It's not my intention to insult anyone with this statement. It's just the truth. The process of deliberate and effective planning goes like this:

  1. Decide what you want to master
  2. Estimate how much time you'll need in order to master it
    (If you have no idea, reduce the size of the challenge until you're clear on this)
  3. Decide for how many days or weeks that this challenge will be your primary focus
  4. Schedule it so you don't forget it
  5. Go for it

This process takes me seconds. Every time I come across a new idea I instantly decide on how many weeks that this will be my primary focus. Then I practice that every time I pick up the guitar. When ever I have a chance to practice for two or three minutes, I practice this specific lick or run. I usually decide to do it for a week - and when I come to the end of that week, I sometimes decide to extend the period with another week. Practice making and keeping these commitments to yourself and you'll quickly develop a new habit of thinking and acting.

"The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become"

Harold Taylor

Use the metronome game

This is a very effective strategy. Set the metronome at an even tempo and decide to play six notes for every one click that the metronome makes. Then improvise your way through the pattern that you've decided to practice. It's important that you play the same amount of notes for every click you hear, while wandering around the scale pattern. Choose as many different "paths" as you can find inside the pattern to make it harder on yourself. Decide on doing that for two minutes. Then increase the speed on the metronome and do another two minutes. Proceed like that until you've hit your upper limit. Then just follow the rules of the metronome game from there.

Driving a car with no breaks

Here's the most important add on rule to the game: when you "crash" and have to stop because you couldn't find your way around the scale, stop! Reorient yourself and find out how the scale looks right around where you had to stop. Then play in that area of the scale for a minute and continue. Make sure that you wont crash the next time you visit that "neighborhood". It's like driving in a car with no breaks only you don't die when you crash! You can use this method to methodically build your skills to the level of total mastery. You can measure your progress and predict when you will reach the Nirvana of fretboard vision.

7/16 Paul Gilbert Variation

This is such a usefull lick and it feels really nice to play it at high speed. Practice slow with precision, create a plan and nail it!

Using the then day breakthrough strategy

This method is also perfect for this kind of challenge. In fact, I would recommend that you start with this in order to get a head start on yourself. You can go through the entire process described in these articles and come out on the other side a different guitar player. Then decide to refocus on one challenge per week from then on. If you do this with enough commitment, you can develop instant fretboard vision in as little as two months.

Use several challenges

When this is your focus during the ten days it's very important to have several challenges to shift between. When you practice for two hours in a row, you must change the pattern you practice at least every 30 minutes. When it comes learning patterns, learning, forgetting and re-learning is vitally important. And playing in a different scale pattern will actually make you forget more of the one you practice done hour ago. Because these patterns look similar in many ways, going from one pattern to another will confuse the brain and make it look for differences rather than similarities, which again will make you learn them so much faster.

"Sometimes an artist is driven to do things without the financial or moral support of a super power such as a record company or backer. The only thing they have is the vision and drive to make their imaginings a reality"

Steve Vai

Make a decision

So make a decision and a plan right now. How are you going to master these patterns? What will you focus on the first week? Will you use the metronome game and measure your progress? Will you use the ten day breakthrough strategy? If so, when will you start? It's not important whether or not you keep your commitments to yourself, as long as you don't stop trying. Every plan clashes with reality at some point, when that happens, change you plan! Don't stop using this strategy, just keep on making commitments to your self and do your best to keep them. This one thing will make you, at least, twice as effective.