Don’t Play Tennis With Your Guitar

I came across a great article from Griff Hamlin of Blues Guitar Unleashed that I thought all of the readers of Six String Madness could relate to.

Check it out-

You know those tennis matches when the ball goes from one side to the other and back again…

And you see the crowd turn their collective heads from one side to the other and back again too.

Well I want you to imagine that your guitar is one side, and the printed music or on-screen video is the other side… and you're going to have a hard time fully concentration on playing a piece of music if you have to keep looking to the other side to see what to play next!

So when you start practicing something, really work towards memorizing it as quickly as you can… and here is a method I use to memorize pages and pages of music (or lyrics for you singers) quickly for a gig.

1. Obviously at first you need the music… so get to where you can play through the piece poorly but at least get all the way through it. Don't make mistakes, but don't worry about playing it fast or super clean.

2. When you think you might be able to start trying, play the piece without using the music (or DVD or whatever) and go as far as you can go… but when you get to a spot where you don't know what to play next DON'T START OVER!

3. Instead, refer back to the music or the DVD and find what note comes next and then continue as far as you can.

Repeat that process until you can play the whole tune without looking at the music. THEN you can really focus on playing it better because you're not looking away from your guitar all the time.

As your technique gets better and your brain gets better at remembering the songs (yes, that gets better with time too) you'll be able to start this process earlier and earlier in the learning curve which really speeds up the process of learning songs and exercises.

Give it a shot this weekend with a song or exercise you've been working on but you keep looking back at how to play that one little section… you know the one 🙂


Griff is the author of the HUGELY popular 4 Note Solo lesson and has put together some of the best blues guitar courses out there.

Check out some of the favorites-

Blues Guitar Unleashed

Beginning Blues Guitar

52 Rhythm Fills and Variations

Hendrix Little Wing Lesson