Practicing – how we can improve

Really passionate about something? Doing your best to be better and eventually become a professional? The key is to be constant and to practice, not to be hasty or plunge into things that are way too advanced for you (no matter how much you like it).

I’ve more than once been very interested in doing something really good, and usually this came from seeing the professionals at work. Whether it’s music, sport or computer programming, being fascinated with ‘what’ and ‘how’ they do it has led me to jump to some advanced topic and not take it gradually.

I like music a lot, and was lucky enough to get to know a few professional guitarists and ask for some guidance in my study of the instrument. And I was a bit surprised (though in a pleasant way, because this made things accessible to me) when they showed me some simple exercises and asked me to take them very seriously. Of course after practicing you must start to play them faster and then add more complex exercises on top, but the main lesson seemed to be that playing correctly and ‘in tempo’ (rhythmically, no faster and no slower than the metronome) is the key, and speed is gained with time. Seems simple enough when you think about, but I don’t think I could have figured it out by myself.

I’ve started taking tennis lessons for some time, and one of the most important things i’ve learned is to be relaxed, train at my own speed and practice correctly. When I rush into hitting the ball too hard I usually employ bad technique which makes the ball take off and land far away, and it also my strike look ugly (which correct tennis doesn’t, it looks elegant and is pleasant to watch).

After over a month I have resumed my tennis lessons with my teacher (I have played/trained a little during this time, but with less efficiency) and he is helping me strike with less speed and better technique. I really feel that this helps.

So, from time to time, I need to remember that being good doesn’t always mean playing that cool-sounding guitar riff at amazing speed, but taking things gradually so that you have the technique and knowledge needed to back it up. If your guitar hero does a fast and difficult solo, he can surely play chords, notes and understand the melodic line behind the solo, and so should you before you play the riff in front of your friends or on stage. So I just take my guitar and practice (study), instead of strumming over some good-sounding mp3 songs all the time.

Maybe it’s a little odd to write about tennis and guitar playing in the same post, but the practicing idea just applies to both (and surely many other areas like computer science or math where it is necessary to understand the basics before you can learn any advanced topics). If you are a novice guitar player and, besides the songs you can easily find on the Internet, would like a few ideas on exercises/stuff to study/practice drop a comment or e-mail me. And remember: a guitar player must practice as well as listen to music and talk to other players.

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