Monday, 8 November 2010

Workload and Awareness

As ever, there are times when workload can have an impact on guitar playing and guitar practice, and the last few weeks have been a good example of that for me. Rehearsals and recording sessions have been the priority recently and at the end of these kind of days, the last thing anyone wants to do is sit down and actually 'practice'. It can also feel like it isn't necessary when playing a lot, but the actual impact that rehearsals have on playing is almost always 'reinforcement' of what you can already do. It is only on rare occasions that skills will be developed in these circumstances, and new ideas and concepts introduced to playing when undertaking heavy rehearsal and recording workloads.

What this brings me to is the importance of awareness as to how your playing is developing, or rather, how your playing is being shaped by your actions. There is actually nothing wrong with spending a period of time rehearsing and recording and it's often a necessary part of being a professional musician but to remain aware of where your playing is at, and where is it is going is imperative if you don't want to lose the skills you've worked hard to develop. For example, if you are aware that you have a lot of playing to do which will be using one technique exclusively for a period of time, it may well be worth developing a short, concise, but highly focused practice routine which exclusively explores other techniques and commits a period of time to reinforcing those, just so that you don't end up losing them to the commitment of time to only one thing. Similarly, if you are going to be playing a lot of single note soloing, devising a similar routine to explore rhythm playing techniques and chordal work would help balance out your playing. Reading notation is another skill area which can suffer if rehearsals and recordings are for a bands original material (where it will be rehearsed and recorded without the aid of notation), so it may be worth devising a practice routine to reinforce those, especially since this skill can be one of the most difficult to develop because in the practice of reading skills there is little in the way of immediate rewarding guitar sound!

In conclusion, remaining aware of how you are working with the guitar is affecting your skills and ability to play it is imperative if you are to guide your playing in the direction you want to take it. Look at what you are actually doing with the guitar and ask yourself how much that is affecting your playing and how much it is reinforcing certain skill areas, and more importantly, try to identify where you could improve this situation by devising short, concise, and focussed little practice routines to directly address this.