One of the worst habits I’ve developed is sitting down with the guitar and noodling on things I have played a million times before, not really trying to work on anything new or fresh.
This is the ‘Unproductive’ way to practice.
I can try to justify it by telling myself ‘Any playing is good…’ or something like that, but hit the gong, that’s a tired old routine.
How to fix? Find something new to practice. Usually it is just a matter of being brutally honest with yourself. And I mean BRUTALLY honest. When you come across something that is hard to play, that you just can’t get through cleanly, take a moment to figure out WHY it’s hard. Usually it boils down to something simple like the picking or the choice of fingering, etc… Once you narrow it down, isolate the problem and spend some time tackling it.
Well, here are some ideas to get you going, the rest is up to you.
1. Keep a journal of things you can’t play. When you practice, use it to ‘remind’ yourself what you need to practice.
2. Transcribe something from your cd collection. Anything you have to ‘think’ to figure out. Pick out little pieces and really explore the techniques involved, whether it’s picking, bending, sliding, slurring, whatever. If you find a bunch of tricky things, write them in your practice journal.
3. Try to play a common lick backwards. Sounds silly, huh? Try it.
4. Transpose a major-sounding lick to a minor sound. And vice-versa. Often as easy as flatting or sharping the third.