Why mistakes are you friends
If you are not making any mistakes on the guitar, either you are amazing or, more likely, you are playing material that is well within your current level of ability. Playing well within our abilities is desirable when performing live or recording. These situations require good performances that are free from mistakes for obvious reasons.
The practice room however is where we should strive to improve our abilities. This could mean developing our technique, correcting timing issues, practising guitar licks, applying music theory, improvising over a difficult chord progressions, etc.
It is alone in the practice room where we make the most progress. And if we are working on material that lies outside our current capabilities, this inevitably means making plenty of mistakes along the way. What is crucial is that we must be aware of these mistakes as they occur and identify the causes.
To take an example
Say you keep catching an open string with your pick at the same place in a particular phrase. If you ignore this, it’s very likely that it will continue to happen. You will effectively be practising and reinforcing the mistake each time you play the phrase.
This is of course a terrible outcome and one that must be avoided. Many mistakes such as this do not just go away over time; they require a concerted effort to fix them.
Fix your guitar mistakes
Instead of ignoring this clanging open string, try to find a solution to the problem. Isolate just the few relevant notes and observe closely what is happening.
- Is your pick trajectory too flat?
- Are your pick movements too big?
- Should you adjust the angle of your pick relative to the strings?
- What exercise could you create to overcome this problem?
The solutions are not always obvious or easy. But each time you correct a guitar problem such as this, you become a slightly more polished player.
Over to you
Take a close look at your own playing. Record yourself if you can. What could be better about what you just played? Was your timing really accurate just then? How cleanly did you play that last phrase?
It takes discipline to admit some of these flaws but spotting them – and fixing them – is fundamental to developing our skills as guitarists.
It’s for this reason that I say mistakes are your friends. Spot them and embrace them. Don’t ignore them.
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photo credit: Joaquin Villaverde Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Cayusa via photopincc
About the Author:Stuart Bahn is a professional guitarist and guitar educator in London, England.