How to super charge yourself

Scroll down for tabs

Loving the practice guarantees results

There is one thing that determines whether or not you reach you goals, more than perhaps any other factor. I know you love to play the guitar if you're reading this article, but do you love the practice? Do you look forward to building your chops, doing endless repetitions and building your alien-like ability to play that instrument? If you're answer is a big YES! Then I congratulate you. If you're not 100 % what to answer, please read on.

My point is this: No human being capable of doing extraordinary things on any instrument, hated the practice. Or to put it in another way: Every single master out there loved the practice. You can't find anyone out there with terror skills that says "I really didn't like the practice but I did it anyway"  If you hate practice, the only way to become good is to use tons of self discipline. And that never lasts. Self-discipline is defined as a conscious effort to do something you really don't want to do. You do it so that you'll get something else in the future. You  sacrifice the now in return for a future reward. It's an insane thought. Wasting your time by consciously inflicting pain on yourself is known as insanity.

"Losers have tons of variety. Champions just take pride in learning to hit the same old boring winning shots"

Vic Braden

In this article I'm going to show you simple, quick and easy ways to turn practice time into a pleasurable exciting element in your life. People who love to practice do specific things in their head that allows them to enjoy something that most people would find extremely boring.

"Liking it" isn't good enough

Most people who congratulate me for my skills do so because they think I suffered hundreds of hours of tedious practice in order to get those skills. But nothing could be farther from the truth. I would never had gotten to where I am now, doing something I hate and neither will you. "But how can you love practice so much that you want to do spend your entire weekend doing nothing but that?!" - I hear somebody shout in the background of my mind.

The secret to loving the practice is simple, provided you really, really, really want to become a pro. Nothing works if you don't want it badly enough. But even if you believe that all you ever wanted from life will come through you getting better at playing the six string. Even if you're convinced that it is your destiny to become the guitar overlord of the world, you still wont get there if you're not in love with the process! And I'm not talking about "liking" You've got to love it...

How to absolutely super charge yourself

So let's get real and specific here. I've created a list of elements that you can incorporate into your practice sessions in order to go from "hating" or "liking" to loving it. So here's the first one:

1. Make it a game

Imagine a baseball game with no goals, no points, no winners and no loosers. Just two teams who likes to throw the ball around. Can you imagine anything more boring? It's like Disney Land after closing time. Also imagine having to play a whole game of baseball in that way. Using the same amount of physical energy but without the aim of winning the game.

Suddenly what used to be an exciting match becomes hard, hard work. This is what it feels like to do endless repetitions of the same lick or pattern: It's boring beyond belief. If it's not a game you play, it's just boring (period) You might be able to do it for 10 or 15 minutes but then your whole body is going to want to get away from that.

Measure your progress, set a goal for yourself and a timeline. Just like in any other game. It actually becomes a game when you have a goal, a strategy and a timeline. you have to know when you're winning and loosing otherwise you'll loose the passion. The metronome game is great for this purpose by the way (Please refer to the articles under "The ultimate guide to alternate picking" on this website.

Two great alternate picking licks

The two licks are both in the key of E-minor. Practicing alternate picking on a nylon string acoustic can be a very good idea. It's like running with extra weight on your feet: You develop strength and precision when you practice and when you return to your electric guitar everything seems easy to play.

2. Adopt the behavior of the best - and know you will become one of them

Another way to inject yourself with the passion for practicing is to constantly think about how what you are doing will give you what you want. Think about how thousands of guitarists are practicing this very minute. And how you are the one who keeps on keeping on when others put their guitar down hours ago. Know that you are virtually guaranteed to become one of the best if you act like them. but it's not enough to know it, you have to think about it while you practice. See yourself as someone very special because you are very special when you do what others wont do.

Strap your guitar on in the morning and see if you can spend a whole day without taking it of. The guitar around your neck will remind you constantly to practice on every occasion and you will. Then think about how far you are willing to go to become great. Imagine telling your grand kids about how crazy you where back in the old days when you practiced like a maniac :-)

I used to draw fretboard diagrams and scales all the time. I used this as a way of practicing without the instrument. I filled hundreds of pages with drawings of the same major / minor scale until I could place the dots with my eyes closed. Why did I do that? Because my thought was "If I do things most people wouldn't do, I must become better than most people" So every special effort I did to learn more and faster became proof to me that I was actually going to reach my goal.

"I know a lot of people think it's monotonous, down the black lines over and over, but it's not if you're enjoying what you're doing. I love to swim and I love to train"

Tracy Caulkins

so ask yourself "What can I do to show the universe that I really want this? To what extremes can I go (Without hurting myself or others)" You might not be able to spend 8 hours a day on weekends practicing but maybe you can design exercises that you can do without your instrument, from the minute you wake up until you go to bed? I used to do left hand finger exercises tapping my thumb with the other fingers, like I would the frets on a fretboard. And this brings me to my next point:

3. Be as interested in how you learn as you are in learning.

The one who looks upon the learning process as an interesting element in itself will progress much faster than the one who doesn't. Think of new ways to get results faster. See if you can cone up with different ways of understanding the fretboard, of understanding music theory. Discover how you learn the best. I used to create all sorts of learning tools for remembering scale shapes. I even created a complete puzzle resembling the entire fretboard with all possible scale shapes. Then I mixed all the pieces together and put them in a bowl.

Then I drew one out and tried to quickly identify what scale it was and what tonality. you can try to come up with different ways of learning more rapidly. This will of course increase the rate at which you learn, but more importantly it will turn your practice environment into a laboratory. When you practice you won't just be praticing, you'll be testing new methods, new strategies. This was how I came up with the metronome game, and many other ideas. Some of them lousy but the all contributed to me getting inspired and passionate about practicing.

If you seek new and better ways to learn more quickly, and more and better ways to turn waiting-, TV-, or talking-on-the-phone time into valueable practice time you will love to practice, because practicing becomes a way to test your new exciting ideas.

4. Ask "I wonder what will happen if I..." questions

The last point is a simple one. If there's one thought pattern that drove me to practice and made me enjoy the practice more than most people it was definitely the phrase "I wonder what will happen if I..." I constantly asked myself this question. "I wonder what will happen if I practice 5 hours each day for a week" or "I wonder what will happen if I draw this scale a thousand times over the next week" or "I wonder what will happen if I play this one lick 500 times each day for a month, I wonder how good that will make me at that particular lick" These questions drove me crazy with excitement. I was always testing the relationship between any given effort and the result it yielded. Always looking to see if I could establish a formula that would give me absolute certainty as to how long it would take me to reach shred heaven.

So my focus moved from becoming better to figuring out what happens if I do X. And the result was the mysterious unknown. So I could imagine every good thing in the world. Asking this question enough and coming up with more and more ideas to how I could practice more efficiently answered all of these questions. If you ask this question enough in your mind, you will become one of the best. I'm not writing that to congratulate myself on my skills, but to, once again remind you that anyone can learn to play insanely fast an accurate. Musical ability might take some talent but speed does not. So to recap here are the 4 ideas that will turn your practice time into pure pleasure:

1. Make it a game
- Games with goals and timelines are fun.

2. Adopt the behavior of the best
- and know you will become one of them

3. Be as interested in how you learn as you are in learning

4. Ask "I wonder what will happen if I..." questions

Have fun with it and apply what ever sounds reasonable to you and throw the rest away.