Guitar Practice Tips from Mr. Satch (Part 1)

I am a fan of guitar magazines and has been buying printed copies of them since my high school days. My very first guitar magazine was Guitar World in 1990. And since then, got a habit of buying them. With today’s technological convenience, magazines can also be bought as digital copies and I dig that very much, thank you.

Okay, back to the subject.

There was this interesting article which has Joe Satriani (a.k.a Satch) sharing his guitar practicing tips to the Guitar World readers in the 2004 July issue. Back in the early 2000s’ I was a practice junkie. But I believe most of the time I was not practicing correctly and sometimes I felt that I was not getting to where I targets to achieve. So, came this article. I shared this because it added value to my guitar playing and not just some ordinary article. And, we are talking about Satch here who is a legendary guitar player. So, when he shared something about his guitar stuffs, it is of course best to listen and absorbs as much as you can.

In his article, he shared 5 general tips on practicing. Here were those things summarized with my own commentaries:

Tip 1 – Don’t Spend More Than An Hour On Any One Thing

Drawing from the scientific facts, the brain can only holds so much new information before it says “enough”. It need to recover before it can process any new information.

I used to feel frustrated every time when attempting a new technique. Why? Since it is a new thing to me, I always thought I would require hours of purely dedication to learn it. Well, sometimes it went well and sometimes it did not. And, when it did not that is when you feel really bad about yourself which obviously resulted in a bad-ass frustration.

So the takeaway from Satch here is to take it easy every time you are learning something new. Be fair to yourself and remember even Einstein didn’t get it right the first time.

Tip 2 – Keep It Fun

This is a common one which we all failed to see. This is closely-tied with Tip no. 1.

Satch mentioned that wen he was a kid, he would practice an hour before heading out to school, and during that hour he would do all the boring stuffs just to get it over with. So when he came home, after doing his homework he would then jam with his friends.

At first read, I could not really get what he was trying to explain until after some rereads. What he meant was that he would do all the boring fundamentals routine runs first an hour before school. So when he got back home, after his homework, he can have a jam with his friends, which is the enjoying part. I believe he did this routine daily while he was still attending school.

I knew that I was really missing the big picture whenever I was doing my routine practices. I misinterpret the whole concept. I used to think that I need to shed blood whenever I practice. Of course if you do this, you will stressed out more which will tire you down with boredom and, eventually your mind will trigger you away from practicing.

So taking the tip from Satch, I would plan out my practice regime in a friendlier package. Say if I have like 2 hours to practice for the day i would spend an hour going through the parts which I have been struggling to nail down; either a technique or part from a song I am trying to learn. Then, I would take the other hour to do what I love e.g. jamming along with backing tracks or perfecting any of my favourite techniques or licks. Usually, the latter would extend its intended time duration because it is that fun. With this, you will get the best of both world; the boring and fun stuffs in a single practice session.

I will stop right here for now while you digest these 2 tips and see if they make any sense at all.

Comments? I do love to hear from you. I meet you there in Part 2.

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