Your Three-Minute Pre-Practice Ritual
Your first guitar is going to have a story. What's yours going to be?
Brace yourself. We're going to drop some very helpful knowledge on you right here right now.
The first part of it is that guitar playing is very habit-driven. Very ritualistic. Guitar players from all genres and sorts have their own little quirky warm-up routines. And I'm willing to bet that if you didn't allow them to complete that ritual, they'd go berserk!
Rituals are good here. Warm-ups are necessary. Practice is vital. So it's your job to combine them. You want one warm-up ritual before you practice. That's your duty.
And it's our duty to teach you how.
We've settled on three minutes because it makes things manageable. You can always spare three minutes. It's quick, easy, painless. It's like sitting through one round of commercials.
Clear Out The Clutter & Kick Out The Jams
Alright, here's your first step. Get rid of everything around you. Well, not everything - just anything that may be distracting for you. Put your remote far away and power down a laptop. Put your iPod on rest for now - it's your turn to play music not it!
Practicing is methodical. You want to "get in the zone" as some might say. All of these things will only make it harder to focus and practice the things you'll want to get down.
Pick a place to practice and make it your own. Make that space your practice zone. Practice this everyday. The familiarity with using the same place for practice will help you get in the zone faster - it's proven!
Unlock Your Finger Power
Next step, your fingers. Your fingers are the delivery drivers of everything guitar. Bringin' the noise, bringin' the funk - no matter. Your fingers gotta be able to play!
So you'll have to warm those guys up. Loosen them. Crack 'em, bend 'em, stretch 'em - whatever you gotta do. Make them as nimble as possible. You don't want any cramping up!
My personal routine involves squeezing a stress ball and a large 10-finger crack (webbing them together and pushing out). For me, this is how I unlock my finger power.
The same goes for your wrists and arms, in general. Remember guitar playing is an exercise, especially for these muscles. If you haven't played before, or haven't played much before, these muscles aren't going to be used to an immense amount of use.
Muscles are going to gradually take to you playing guitar. That's just how these things happen. So while you may only have to stretch out your hand for 15 seconds when you start, you may need 2 minutes when you start playing for hours.
In this way, your pre-practice ritual is much like your playing. Start slow, earn the trust of your fingers and mind and increase your focus. StringNinja is designed like that, which makes it so effective. It will take you through the process of your pre-practice ritual all the way through the practice session.
So check it out. For now, though, we have one more tip and it has NOTHING to do with your fingers. Just your lungs.
Breathe Before You Rock
It sounds funny but I'm super serious. You gotta breathe before you rock. There's been a whole slew of science recently about how important breathing is. It's a great way to get focused on your task at hand. It's settling.
In other words, breathing is exactly what you need.
You don't have to be a monk for breathing techniques to work. You can even try now. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Now keep going, slow pace. After about 20 slow breathes, do 20 mediums. Now do 20 fast.
Keep your eyes closed. Think only about the breathes, nothing else. Open your eyes when you're done - or if you'd like to get more focused, do another round.
I can't guarantee this will help. It works for me - and not just for guitar playing. I try to do this before everything. If it does anything at all, it will at least calm you a bit. Or just take you away and bring you back, which is always fun.
Just try it. No matter how silly you think it is. It helps, I promise!
Whatever your ritual is, make sure you keep it up. Consistency is the mother of rituals, since it's the repetition that really makes them great. Find a pre-practice exercise and stick with it. If you need to make changes, that's fine, but try and incorporate the old things along with the new.
Your ritual is going to the key to starting practice sessions off right. But you'll want to know what to bring along for each session too - and OF COURSE what you should be practicing. We got those answers for you in StringNinja and everything else you'll want to know about learning how to rock on your own!