1. Perfect Repetitions
Throughout my many years of teaching, I’ve observed that the number one progress killer is sloppy practice. Which leads to what I call “adverse muscle memory.” If you want to optimize your progress, the first step is training yourself to execute slowly in meticulous repetitions. One excellent way to facilitate this goal is to practice with a metronome and gradually increase the BPM as you achieve greater proficiency.
2. Embrace the Fundamentals
They may not be exciting or sexy as learning a hot Van Halen riff or an SRV lick, but dedicating time to the basic concepts like scales, music theory, or even the names of the notes on the fretboard will strengthen your foundation and make skill acquisition more attainable. It also allows you to internalize the techniques you observe and use them creatively.
3. Intervallic Learning
One breakthrough that I’ve had is a learner came to me while studying languages. It’s the concept of intervallic learning. When attempting to learn a new skill, you’ll need to revisit it in a series of expanded intervals. First, thrice daily for maybe a week, then once a day, then twice a week, then once a week, and so on and so forth. Throughout this course, we will be continuously revisiting the same theoretical concepts, scales, chord changes, and melodic ideas to trick your brain into accepting these concepts as crucial to your survival.
4. Don’t Overdiversify
One common pitfall of beginner and intermediate players is the tendency to bounce around from lesson to lesson or practice a wide range of techniques simultaneously. I strongly recommend practicing just a single goal and seeing it to fruition. Consider the famous Bruce Lee quote: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
5. Composition is Key
The number one driving force behind all my progress on the
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