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The Number One Practice Mistake In Music (And Life?) And What To Do About It

The Number One Practice Mistake In Music (And Life?) And What To Do About It

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

The Number One Practice Mistake In Music (And Life?) And What To Do About It

I like to read and to listen to Audio Books. And when I listen to Audio Books, I typically use the “speed up” feature to listen to them at double speed–or 1.5 if I’m feeling mellow.

“Daaaad,” my daughter, Neoma tells me when she gets in the car. “That super fast talking is stressing me out. And it is stressing you out. You’re so uptight! You need to SLOW DOWN.”

So I decided to think and write about the benefits of slowing down in a series named after the Simon And Garfunkel lyric “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast.” This is written from me to myself–and to you, too. Enjoy!

This Is:

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast Blog #1

(I Diagnose The Disease–And I Prescribe The Cure!)

Harder, Faster, Wronger?

The Mistake You And I Are Making In Music (And Life) And What To Do About It

As a guitar teacher, I consider myself a kind of doctor–a doctor of rock. People come into NYC Guitar School with goals, dreams and challenges and I have the super-fun responsibility to diagnose their condition and to prescribe a good route for getting to where they want to go.

One of the most common afflictions I see is “teenage metal guitarist syndrome.” The ailment is characterized by making mistakes at high speed–and then trying to correct them by playing even faster.

The problem with this approach is that when you practice incorrectly, you are locking those mistakes into your body and mind! That’s why Vince Lombardi famously said “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Trying harder works best if you are also trying smarter.

Trying to overcome mistakes by repeating them is an example of the “insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results” mistake that you and I both make way too often! In fact Teenage Metal Guitarist Syndrome is just one example of the underlying disease called “The Mistake Mistake”, and it is one of the biggest barriers to improvement for guitarists at all levels, from beginner to elite.

So what we tell teenage metal guitarists–and everyone else–is that they should practice at a tempo where they can play correctly. You do need enough mistakes to provide resistance so you can get faster and stronger and better, and to inform your continued improvement–but science shows that progress is fastest when you practice at a level where you can be successful around 80% of the time with full focus. That’s the SWEET SPOT. (I wrote an excellent blog about it which you can read here.)

That’s an RX right there:

What “mistake mistake” are you making in guitar or life? Where are you trying to solve a problem by literally repeating the problem harder or faster?

(Even If You Are A Head Banger, Sometimes Banging Your Head Against A Door Doesn’t Work As Well As Opening It.)

On to Greatness,

Dan Emery

Founder & CEO, NYC Guitar School

Dan Emery is dedicated to Coaching Personal Greatness, One Lesson At A Time. He is the founder of NYC's friendliest and fastest growing guitar schools, New York City Guitar School, Brooklyn Guitar School, Queens Guitar School and NYC Guitar School, East, and the author of the Amazon best-selling Guitar For Absolute Beginners and six other books on learning guitar and deliberate practice. He coaches new entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurs Organization Accelerator program and especially enjoys helping other Educational Entrepreneurs. He has a Masters in Education from Columbia University Teachers College, extensive performing experience as songwriter and guitarist for The Dan Emery Mystery Band, a wife, three kids, a cat and some juggling equipment.


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