How to gain an extra 4 hours of practice time a day

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The art of Practicing while watching TV...

It's no joke... When I first started playing guitar I needed tons of practice time because I didn't have the luxury of practicing effectively (You don't have that excuse anymore) I had 7 hours of school to attend to and I had to get some amount of homework done in able to survive the next day. (My teachers where lethal) But I managed to put in 6 hours of practice a day anyway. This blog isn't just about how to practice while watching TV - it's also about practicing tedious repetitive patterns in a fun and relaxed way.

How much time can you gain?

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co. the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. That's 2 full days of non stop TV watching each month. So when you reach the age of 65 you will have spend fully 2 years in front of the tube. Anyone who uses that amount of time to watch TV AND practice the guitar will progress so fast it's a joke! Here's how to do it:

1. Break down the lick

Break the lick down (if neccesary) into 12 or 8 note patterns that you can play without shifting position too much. This way of practicing is perfect for small repetetive patterns like the ones you see in this blog.

2. Memorize it

Memorize the pattern so that you can play at a slow pace, but without looking and without having to think too much about it.

These two little licks are excellent for building alternate picking speed. In the first one notice that you play the licks starting with different pick strokes. Also you will tend to play the fast parts much faster than you otherwise would. Because the slow parts of the licks provide such a nice foundation for the fast parts. Try it and you will see what I mean. Playing the same notes in half and double tempo makes it up for practicing with a metronome and gives you excellent timing.

3. Identify tough spots

Play the lick as fast as you can and figure out where the tough spots are. In other words: What parts or part of the lick will need the most attention. Remember this spot and develop a little exercise to deal especially with this part. (Like playing only that part of the lick)

4. Start practicing

Find a TV and put on a good movie and prepare for 90 minutes of the most tedious repetetive practicing ever seen on the face of the earth. (It wont be for you ofcourse, because you'll be watching Arnold Swarzenegger lose it on a bunch of innocent cyborg assassins)

"If it weren't for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we'd still be eating frozen radio dinners"

Johnny Carson


Speed up the learning process

It's a good idea to have two licks that you can shift between. This will give you a chance to take a break from one pattern to another - and this will greatly speed up the learning process (As I've touched on in a previous blog)

How to avoid getting hate mail from other TV watchers

When you play, be sure to mute the strings with the fatty part of your right hand palm. You can almost silence the strings completely and if that isn't enough then turn up the TV! I've used this method not only to get more practice time, but also as a way of getting through those rather boring exercisies that build incredible speed and accuracy. Use this method for 2 hours a day for the next 10 days and you wont believe what it does to your basic skills!