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"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good - Malcolm Gladwell

FOCUS ON TODAY'S WEAKNESS The first thing I do when I sit down is a devote a few minutes to a singular technique practice. Which technique practice varies from day to day, and will be based on which technique issue is my "Personal Weakest Issue" at that moment. I typically choose just one of the many technique lessons laid out in the PFM that addresses the issue I am having. I have been playing for 60 years, and everything in the Course is what I have stored in my muscle memory.

Let's say that today I recognized that my blocking slipped on Monday night with the Time Jumpers. To work on that issue, I would choose to run through each of the Picking Permutation two or three times (Always Slowly) to refresh my muscle memory on the various shapes of blocks. Side note: The PFM course has lessons on all of the technical issues I focus on on any given day. The technique issues are highlighted as singular lessons. I typically work on one singular issue per practice day because over time I noticed I get more mileage that way.


For the rest of my remaining time I will practice on whatever my goal is that day. Mostly my goal is to keep the phone ringing! I love playing as much as possible, and I mostly play sessions or work in band situations where backing a singer and serving the song is the mission. My musical goal is to get better at those skills.


The last two or three minutes of the practice session is a repeat of the day's first few minutes: going back over the day's chosen technical practice. I include all of the nuances as my options for technique practice: Vibrato, Bar Accuracy, Honing the Volume Pedal, Pedal Squeezes, Picking Dynamics, etc. Technique practice is the same as hitting a bucket of balls before tackling the golf course. If you practice being accurate, dynamic, and expressive, that is how you will sound.


Tomorrow I could decide I am weakest at "playing from Amin7th to C#dim7th". In that (and many other cases), I don't need to be sitting at the guitar to work on it. Much of my practice is done without a guitar: I think about intervals over chords all of the time, especially during any idle time I may have.


When I am at the guitar, my most productive time is spent composing and gathering little personal musical or harmonic nuggets for later use. There are loads of lessons on the concepts I use to create/compose new ideas to memorize in the PFM. Composing is my favorite focus, as it is usually the most beneficial time spent. I am always composing short ideas to store in my muscle memory. Once an idea is composed, I will immediately record it and then I play it over a progression repeatedly until it is memorized and internalized.

INSTANT RECALL I want everything I learn to reside in my "instant recall" region of the brain. I never want to think about anything as I play my various gigs. To accomplish that freedom, I must not lose any new or old ideas. If I think a move sounds cool for various musical situations, it eventually comes out in my playing due to this memorization practice. My reality is this: I may not use any new composed idea on a record for a year or more, yet, I could use it this afternoon on the gig. I have to be ready, so I anticipate where I want to go and focus on getting there.

VARIETY This approach was taught to me by my teacher, Wanda Breuning, and it is the outline I have always used. The middle parts of any practice session always change. Once the fundamental playing skills and theory concepts were internalized, I never practiced the same content the exact same way at practice time.


The quickest way to spin my wheels is if I try covering too many technical issues at once. That would make me a "jack-of-all-techniques and a master-of-none". I always say I am an "Eternal Beginner". Focusing on one issue at a time is my personal direction on any given day. I believe strictly following this outline defines who I am as a player.

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