Learning an instrument is all about repetition. We need to practice and repeat the lessons or piece of music to enable our hands to get used to new movements and positions, and our minds to develop familiarity with a the mental process. It is like learning to tie your shoelaces, difficult at first and only repeated attempts can enforce the new routines in your hand and mind. Now you can probably tie them without thinking about it.
When athletes prepare for a major event they will use a visualisation technique that involves picturing the event in their mind. They will run the event from start to finish imagining the feeling from the starting line, hearing the noise of the crowd and seeing the stadium around them. They will then run the event step by step and imagine themselves winning in front of the cheering spectators.
This method has been used in many sports and has been proven to produce tangible results and it is also a method that can be utilised by musicians.
Some of the top musicians have become as good as they are despite relatively little practice room time. Of course, I'm not advocating using only a visualisation technique for learning but it is a useful tool and, as tests on musicians have shown, likely to develop your playing in a comparative way to traditional practice.
We are not just talking about daydreaming here. To be effective it must be vivid and systematic. It must also have self-evaluation and mistake correction exactly as if you where playing normally.
Put yourself in the right state of mind first. Close your eyes and breathe easily through your nose and release all the tension throughout your body. Mentally see your practice room as vividly as you can. Feel your instrument in your hand as you go through your usual warm-up routine. This may be difficult at first so stick with shorter segments while you get the hang of it. What are your hands doing? Hear each note. If you make a ,mistake or feel you have not played well enough simply pause and rewind and move forward slowly repeating the sequence properly again and again until you feel confident at normal speed. Then carry on.
While you are doing this the neurons in your brain are sending signals to each other in the same way a normal practice would. As these signals get sent for this new skill they form a new network between the neurons and the more these signals are fired the more familiar this new pattern becomes. Some people call this memory muscle.
This is not daydreaming.
The imagination often gets overlooked as we grow up but visualisation is the true language of the mind, even before we learn written words. All our thoughts and ideas come, at first, from imagination and only from our minds can these ideas come.
It is therefore possible to practice your instrument even if you don't have the time to set it up. Maybe you are away from your practice room, or even your instrument. The only limitation with this method is that you have to at least know the piece you are practising and know what it is supposed to sound like. But once you do you now have a proven method to accelerate your development.
For more help and advice learning the guitar visit my website here.
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