Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
If you are going to start developing your chops (guitarist slang word for technique) then there are a few Golden Rules you really ought to be aware of and follow wherever appropriate - bearing in mind that there are ALWAYS exceptions to EVERY rule :) so use your good judgement and logical thought!
• PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT
Not perfect as the old adage would have you believe. Do not let yourself make any mistakes while working on technique. Do things very carefully, because there is no point in working a lot on developing a bad habit into a perfect bad habit! If you do something sloppy a hundred times, why do you think it might suddenly come out perfect on the 101st time? It won't. So don't!
• START NEW THINGS VERY SLOWLY AND ONLY SPEED UP WHEN IT'S CORRECT
Speed comes with time and a little help from a metronome and fast runs must be played smoothly, accurately and clearly or they sound rubbish. The amazing thing about the really technical guitarists like Steve Vai or Eric Johnson is not just how fast they play but how cleanly they play. Slow it down to half or quarter speed and you can hear every note clearly - that is what you should be aiming for. Clarity.
When you start playing something you are 'writing the code' for the technique (or song or whatever). If make make mistakes in the code it's going to be very hard to come back and fix them later, so start slowly, get the code perfect and then it's relatively easy to tell your brain 'that thing I've just played perfectly 10 times, well lets start speeding it up' because it knows what moves to make and when. Then it's just a physical thing improving muscle speed or dexterity and your brain can take a break!
• KEEP ALL MOVEMENTS TO AN ABSOLUTE MINIMUM
Try and keep all movements as small and accurate as possible. Try not to let your fingers fly too far away from the fingerboard, or to 'point away'. Also try and keep your picking under control using only the tip of the pick and not moving it too far from the string. You’ll want to check out the Minimum Movement Exercise for sure, nearly everyone gets benefit from that one!
• UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF THE EXERCISE
If you are doing a technical exercise, make sure you know the point of it and then focus on that one thing and don't let yourself get distracted. If you are working on your time, stay focused on that, the notes are not the point. If you don't understand the 'essence' of the exercise, stop and think about it until you do, or don't do it!!