The Magic of Mastery

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Making economy picking more versatile

If economy picking is the only picking style you master, you have to be very careful with how you structure your licks. You have to have an uneven number of notes on each string in order to be able to make the string shifts happen. Also there are a few things that are practically impossible to play with economy picking only, because of this mathematical limitation. But there's a quick and easy way around this and it even has some nice side benefits to it: Mix economy picking with legato (Hammer-ons and pull-offs). Because economy picking and legato have a more soft sound to them compared to alternate picking, they go very well together.

Frantic Rush 01

Play impressive stuff faster and have more fun

Today I have included two downward economy picking runs that include pull offs. Notice what this does to the sound of the lick and to the level of skill it takes to play it. The pull offs give you a little break from picking. Though it is a very small break it can mean a lot to how fast you learn the lick. Previously I've touched on the effects of having a large enough pause between the more challenging parts of a technique and integrating some legato techinque into your picking actions can help you play faster and have more fun. Also the the legato mixture gives you a more loose and easy playing style and a change to reposition your picking hand or the pick itself. Though it's a tenth of a second we're talking about your brain will use this little break to readjust and prepare for the next challenge. That's why it will feel easier to play when you have it down.

The trap you don't want to fall into
(Though most people do)

I'm posting quite a few licks and runs on this blog in my hope that they will inspire you to try new things. But there's a trap that I wouldn't want to see you fall into and that is this: Taking on too much a one time. It sounds so basic and simple, yet it is the secret to getting what you want. You can practice ten licks for ten weeks an accomplish almost nothing, but you can also take on each one lick, each week and make massive progress. You practice exactly the same amount of material during the same amount of time, the only difference is the sequence in which you take on the challenges. Everything at once, will make your brain act like a child with ADD. One challenge at a time will make your progress soar.

But that doesn't mean you can't try out new things and practice a lot of different licks in a day, you just have to decide on what one or two licks you are working on 80 % of the time. If you start every practice session by working on those one or two things and you measure your progress, you'll carve through the clutter of an overloaded mind and create results fast. It's amazing how many things become so much easier when you master just that one thing to perfection. Most people dabble with too many things and never get to master any of them. So they never experience the exponential growth that comes with mastering one little thing at a time.

Frantic Rush 02

Planetary mastery in eight weeks

When I started out I intuitively decided on one single little simple challenge that I would practice to perfection (I did somethings right after all) "If I can just play this as fast as Gilbert, then I can play as fast as him right?" I said to myself - And then I focused my entire energy on that one lick. I had a lot of other things I dabbled with on the side, but 80 % of my focus was dedicated to that one particular lick. It took me eight weeks to play that thing as fast as anyone on the planet. That's the power of focus!

From then on I could say with complete confidence and conviction "I am one of the fastest guitarplayers in the world!" And no one could argue with me :) But bragging wasn't the coolest thing about that particular achievement. The consequences of mastering one small thing are the following:

1. You create proof that you really can learn anything you put yout mind to
2. You build unshakable confidence in your own abilities
3. You quickly develop a reputation of being ultra fast

(which makes you want to live up to that reputation and practice more!)
4. You now have something to build on, which speeds up your progress radically.

The Magic of Mastery

If you move from mastering one thing to mastering another you accelerate your progress more and more. You learn faster and faster until you wont believe what happened. This is why the pros sometimes look like they have some kind of magical power. You look at them and think "I've been practicing for a year and I can do 1 % of what he can do, so I'll need another 99 years to become that good?! He must be extremely talented..."

I used to believe that until I experienced what exponential growth means to your development. When you really master one thing, and then another and then another, instead of taking on one hundred things and do them "OK". You activate what Einstein called the greatest force in the universe: Compound interest. It's growth doubling it's own value all the time. Here's how it looks:

Kill the challenge

In the beginning it's like watching the grass grow, but as you build on what you master already, you progress faster and faster, until you literally take of completely. And that's when people are going to point their fingers at you and say "He must be born with that talent". The way to activate that kind of growth is through mastery. Kill the challenge. Eradicate it. Disintegrate it. Focus your energy and go for it.

Well I hope you have a lot of fun with today's lick. Mixing economy picking with other techniques really makes it so much more valuable. In my next article I'm going to show you how to integrate economy picking and alternate picking into a third picking style that has immense power.