To Improve Your Practice Routine, Try Getting Physical
I’m sick of practicing. I’m in a rut. Nothing I do is original. I’ve played this a million times already. I don’t seem to be getting better. Where do “THEY” get all those good ideas, anyway?
Welcome back to article No. 5 in “The Art of the Practice” series of articles, where we seek to interject your practice with some variety, novelty and fun. Which is exactly the way it should be.
Today were gonna talk about something that can make a huge difference in your playing. It's a little something called "getting physical." Before we get started, some harsh truths:
01. Your guitar is a piece of wood. That's right. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it's the God's honest truth. It's a toy gun slung over your shoulder waiting to fire. Sure, you may have given it a name, you may spend time glancing at it longingly from across the room, and you may miss him/her when he/she isn't around. It's still just a piece of wood. Think about it for a sec. Now let's work with that notion ...
02. Practicing can mean a lot of time sitting around on the couch, and that's how a lot of us conduct our practice routines -- running scales, doing exercises, learning licks, etc. A recent report likened sitting too much to the health risks posed by smoking. Get up with your guitar on. Practicing standing up and moving around is crazy important; it’ll help you out when you’re on stage and performing.
03. Before you're really going, allow me to suggest investing in a good strap. Something comfortable, flexible and, of course, cool-looking. Strap locks are easily one of the great guitar innovations and are a must. Your focus has got to be on playing and performing, not on whether your guitar is gonna take a trip south. It's happened to me before I had locks on all my guitars and it really, truly SUCKS! Buy strap locks. They're easy to install and aren't expensive.
04. Now that our instruments are secure, let's move on. Move around your place with it strapped to you. WATCH THE NECK! Get used to the weight of it and adjust accordingly. Think of it as a baby in a baby-bjorn or a papoose or something. The instrument is a physical extension of your being ...
05. An important part of this whole process is to introduce playing the guitar while standing up (as mentioned in No. 2). There is a physical difference between sitting and playing vs. standing and playing. A lot of us tend to hunch over the instrument when we're sitting, which puts the guitar higher up on our chest. But once we stand, the guitar is closer to our waist, which means our arms and hands are positioned quite differently. The fix for this is either to make sure you sit up (back straight) when you're sitting and playing, or to adjust your strap so that your guitar sits higher when you're standing. I know it's part of the "rock look" to have the guitar slung low, but that position doesn't necessarily do wonders for your playing. Experiment. If anything, start it higher and gradually lower it. See what works best and looks cool.
So there you have it. Practice your playing while standing and moving around. It's one of those things that'll totally make your playing and presentation better. See you next time!
Brian Wetherby is the guitar player in the rock band Captain Decibel, whose second independent release, The Dream Logic, is now available on iTunes, CD Baby and via the Captain Decibel Facebook page. Check it out! Spending 20 years learning the guitar has resulted in more than just unique riffing. For more information, check him out at captaindecibel.com, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CapBriDecibel.