Author Topic: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice  (Read 562 times)

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Offline Indigo

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« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 07:40:42 pm by Indigo »

Offline TLT

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Re: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2015, 02:38:32 pm »
I am wondering about Justin's thoughts on "fixing bad habits"  -- a process of "unlearning" or "re-learning" -- in relation to technique practice. 

I have not played guitar in over 30 years and when I did, I was self-taught or taught by friends. Going through Justin's courses from Beginner through Intermediate and  Fingerstyle, I realize that I have a number of basic, mostly hidden bad habits that I learned a long time ago.  My worst bad habit is the thumb positioning of my fretting hand: I tend to "hold" the guitar with my palm, resting it on my palm.  This causes my thumb to lie flat against the back of the guitar and my fingers to slant sideways, such that I clutch the neck between my fingers and the base of my palm, rather than squeezing the neck between my thumb and fingertips.  This results in both a cramping of my hand, and muting of the first high E string.

I have a lot of other bad habits - everything from posture and hand positioning, to strumming, picking, string muting techniques, keeping the rhythmn, tensing up - so many! And they are things that pervade all my playing.  I feel like because I learned things way back when "fast and dirty" and without a teacher to correct me, I carelessly built motor memory over and over again, and ended up being really good at repeating my mistakes!

I just spent some time looking at Justin's Technique and Practice sections, and the "Golden Rules of Technique Practice" caught my eye as relating to fixing bad habits.

1.  PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT: Focus first on changing basic bad habits starting now and practice until it is learned.
2. START NEW THINGS VERY SLOWLY AND ONLY SPEED UP WHEN IT'S CORRECT: Go back and relearn songs, scales, exercises very very very slowly.  Focus on quality, not quantity or speed.
3. KEEP ALL MOVEMENTS TO AN ABSOLUTE MINIMUM: Economize on the new muscle movements that I'm learning; exaggerated movements are a bad habit, too!
4. UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF THE EXERCISE: Focus on fixing one problem at a time and really hone in on it until it is fixed in a comprehensive way. So I first noticed that my palm was hitting the high E string and either muting it or making a buzzing sound against my ring. I figured out that it was my hand positioning that was the problem, That then became the focus of everything I was doing; my hand positioning had to be good on every song, every exercise. I'm still working on building different muscle memory and strength in relation to that one, and not automatically going to the bad neck grip!

It would be great to hear Justin's thoughts on the best way to fix bad technique habits and how we can use his courses to do that.  I'm sure he has many ideas up his sleeve for those of us who did not begin learning guitar his way! Tips, how he thinks about fixing bad habits, the most common bad technique habits, etc.

Best,
Theresa
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 02:55:24 pm by TLT »

Offline mike42

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Re: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2015, 12:55:32 am »
I can't speak for Justin, but I think some keys to fixing bad habits is to:

- Go slow
- Make a conscious, focused effort to use the correct technique and not revert to the bad habit you're trying to fix
- Don't try to fix them all at once. Work on something specific until you feel comfortable with it, then move on to the next thing

It's going to take some time to 'unlearn' all of these things, so take them on one at a time and try not to let yourself slip back to your old ways. As Justin says, "practice makes permanent," so make sure you are practicing things the right way and the results will come!


Offline KasperFauerby

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Re: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2015, 08:32:50 am »
Hi TLT,

Good post and also some good thoughts you have on Justin's points! I'm kind of in the same boat as you - I've been playing for a long time but are also completely self taught. That has lead to a number of bad habits as well and as you say, having played in a certain way for many years have have made those habits permanent.

But just to encourage you, it is possible to fix, and your "plan of attack" seems solid to me.

As an example, one of the things I had to fix was how to hold the pick. For some reason I had ended up holding it with three fingers (thumb + first AND second finger). This caused the angle to be completely wrong and held me back during fast passages.

I decided to try and fix this a couple of months back, doing it just as you describe. Focus on fixing that one thing first, taking it really slow - and, of course, sticking with it! ;)

However, there is one thing that I did slightly differently and probably not all will agree it was the best approach... but it worked for me; In the beginning, changing how to hold the pick felt like a huge step back! I basically couldn't play anything for a while and this was quite bad for morale and overall enjoyment of the instrument. So I decided that I would only focus on correcting the technique while doing dedicated technique practice! So when playing songs for fun or playing live gigs I was "allowed" to hold the pick the old and incorrect way.

Anyway, this was just a few months back and now I'm always holding the pick correctly without even thinking about it. So bottom line - it is indeed possible to fix technique mistakes, even for "old dogs", and the approach you're thinking about should work... even if you maybe will doubt it is possible to change in the beginning ;)

Offline TLT

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Re: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2015, 06:43:32 am »
Thanks mike42 and KasperFauerby for your words of encouragement and support, and for the specific tips.

I empathize with the dip in motivation/morale that having to fix a (or many) pervasive problem(s) can have. It was very encouraging to hear, Kasper, that allowing yourself some free time to just "play freely, if badly" didn't interfere with your new goal for practice time, and that eventually the focussed time practicing the new motor movements did eventually carry over into you free time playing. Seems like you are suggesting pairing some behavioral wisdom about not killing the motivation with some motor learning wisdom about practice makes permanent.  I find your suggestion very powerful and useful. It would be interesting to see if there is any good science on that; seems like the basis of a good dissertation research project, actually!

I found some very good ideas also in Justin's  "Effective Practice" section. As mike42 says, set specific focused goals, work on one thing at a time, go slow, once you have comfortably learned the new technique, move on to the next. I also liked Justin's idea of using visualisation to practice in your head.

But also his video about observing your own mistakes.

PC-107 • Observe Your Mistakes

http://www.justinguitar.com/en/PC-107-ObserveYourMistakes.php

Beyond these tips on how to approach finding and fixing your own bad habits, it would be great to hear something from Justin about the most common bad habits he sees and his suggestions for how to fix them. I guess that we cannot always see our own bad habits. Of course at some point it is perhaps good to study with a teacher who can point them out to you. But until then, a list of common bad habits and mistakes could help alert us all to areas of our technique we may need to pay closer attention to.

It would also be great to hear from other community members about bad habits and how to fix them. My community forum searches led me to several different sections, but no one area in which to share on this topic.

Maybe I'll suggest a lesson on "fixing bad technique habits"!

Thanks again to all for the encouragement and concrete suggestions! Great community here.

Best,

Theresa

Offline bradt

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Re: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2015, 03:22:03 pm »
Good stuff!

TLT, Justin has a Q&A thread that he is using to make a new series of posts. You should check that out, and maybe add your question/suggestion there.

https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=37353.0

Offline TLT

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Re: TE-002 • Golden Rules Of Technique Practice
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2015, 02:31:53 pm »
Thanks, bradt.  It took my a while to respond, but I will look at this now.

I have found it much easier to implelent Kasper's idea of allowing myself to have fun once in a while, and then regularly sitting down for ten minutes several times a day to play the new correct way.  Changing the way I hold my hand has taken more than just building up muscle memory -- it has taken building up muscle strength, getting beyond the point of cramping, etc.  It's like starting all over again -- well, almost like it.  After 10 days, I am getting the hang of it.  Still slipping sometimes into the wrong hand position, but only about 10% of the time.  And I don't feel the need so much to "allow" myself to play with my old incorrect hand posture.  Kasper, you were right!  My fingers just start going to the right place by themselves most of the time.

I will keep you all posted.

Best,
Theresa
« Last Edit: July 01, 2015, 12:25:14 pm by TLT »