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Why Technique Practice Is Important, but often overdone!

Justinguitar.com on Technique

Understanding why you should do something well help you stay focused when you practice.

I am not a fast guitar player. I can't play 1000 notes a second but I am still very interested in developing my technique to allow me to play new and interesting ideas or concepts that I find. To play very fast takes a lot of practice, a lot of repetition and a lot of focus.

Playing super incredible fast guitar is not my thing, but I can show you how ;)

I think it's important to develop your technique to a higher level than where you need (want) to play, that's always been my main goal and so I often get stuck into technique exercises when I discover something I would like to play but don't have the technical ability to make it happen. When talking to Tommy Emmanuel a few years back, he told me that he developed his technique by playing around and finding anything he couldn't do and then practicing it over and over until he could.

Lets assume that you want to play Dave Gilmore style solos. He doesn't play crazy fast, but it's really smooth and fluent. He's playing within his technical ability. If you are pushing your technique to the limit your playing will never sound smooth or cool, and you will make mistakes.

Better to be playing within your limits and sounding good, having the time to plan ahead a little and leave some gaps to let the music breath. Playing within your technical limits will let you work on more expressive outlets such as dynamics, touch and phrasing. These things are much more important than playing lots of notes in my humble opinion.

Remember too that the faster you go the further ahead you have to look!

That said, if you want to play full on metal, jazz or fusion, you should push yourself to the max or it will sound lame. One of the things I love about Jeff Beck's playing is that he is always on the edge, about to fall off and you wonder if he will make it or not… he usually does pull it off, but not all the time. So the above discussion is aimed at the 'general player' not the technical monster!

It should also be noted that guitar players that get lost in technique most often end up making very mediocre at best music. Music that just shows off technique I find incredibly boring after a minute or so, sure it's pretty impressive to see Paul Gilbert shred so perfectly (and I have massive respect for his ability) but after a few minutes of that style I'm left feeling pretty cold - I much prefer people who play less and mean more, like say Mark Knopfler or Robben Ford, both whom have incredible technique but also posses taste and touch that touches deeper than 'look how fast I can play'.

So please remember that Technique should only be one part of your practice and not all of it! Without knowledge, ear training, learning solos, licks and good songs, you might play fast but you'll struggle to make music with it that you feel really expresses yourself!

Now you should check out the 'Golden Rules'.



Lesson ID: TE-001