Tag: practice Archives - Jim Bowley

May 5, 2014

Three Practice Strategies for Serious Guitar Progress

by jim — Categories: Beginner, Being Awesome, Intermediate — Tags: 11 Comments

It’s always satisfying when you find an article or some research that confirms for you that what you’ve been doing is legit.

This has happened to me before with particular techniques (the pinky power chord, for example). But recently I’ve run across a series of excellent articles in a favorite site of mine – The Bulletproof Musician – that lends some credence to drills and practice suggestions I’ve been making to my students for some time.

And make no mistake, having a strong concept of HOW to practice – not just WHAT to practice – is the key to consistent gains in the practice room.

So, in conjunction with The Bulletproof Musician, I’ve put together three basic practice strategies that will help you to make some serious progress in your guitar playing.

These strategies are especially helpful for translating your work in the practice room to the stage or bandstand. But of course, they’re money even if you’re just a hobbyist wanting to be an all-around more awesome guitarist. (more…)

October 12, 2011

Reverend Jim, Yellow Lights and You

Reverend Jim Ignatowski

Dear Guitar Student:

I like you.

You’re pretty cool and you sometimes say funny things. You’re also typically happy to see me, which is always nice. And more often than not, you’ve put in some decent practice time in the days since our last session. For this I thank you, because it makes our lesson much more productive and moves you forward nicely.

You will cheerfully tolerate my lame attempts at humor and only a small minority of you will show up to your lesson in something resembling pajama bottoms. Some of you turn me on to great new music. And for all of these things, I thank you as well.

But for the love of God, slow down.

In the name of one of the greatest Taxi episodes of all time, slow down.

(If you’re over 40, you’ll remember that when the Reverend Jim asked the group, “What does a yellow light mean?”, they replied – you guessed it – “Slow down”. If you’re under 40, just watch the video below.)

I’m asking you to consider taking your foot off the accelerator and tapping your brake a little. Treat your guitar path as if it’s littered with yellow lights and slow down. You’ll thank me later.

Your humble servant,
JB (more…)

September 9, 2011

Status Update, Part Deux: The Intermediate Student

Guitar black and white

Greetings, current and future rock stars!

In our last installment, we covered JB’s criteria – the Beginner Fundamentals – for passing from guitar newbie to advanced beginner status.

Guitar playing is based on physical skills AND musicianship, so we included in our criteria some basic theory (understanding simple rhythms, the musical alphabet, common symbols) to go along with foundation technique (good posture, basic chords, making a good sound).

I would also suggest that these fundamentals include miscellaneous-type stuff, such as knowing the parts of the guitar, effective use of a tuner, and even simple use of a capo. For the full list, check out Status Update: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

In order to consider yourself a late beginner, you should demonstrate clear mastery of this material. Someone of late beginner status should also be able to play in a way that “sounds like music” to the average person. (more…)

September 6, 2011

Status Update: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

FB status update

Let’s play a quick game of make-believe, young rock and rollers!

It’s time to update your Facebook status, but that darn Mark Zuckerberg and his evil minions have “improved” your FB experience with yet another change.

Now they will only allow you to enter one word – beginner, intermediate or advanced – to describe yourself…as a guitarist.

No song lyrics. No complaining about what a bad day you’re having. No pics of your dinner or your vacation. Just straight-up, honest guitar assessment.

So what level guitarist are you? Are you a beginner or intermediate? Have you graduated to advanced status?

Good questions. (more…)

July 12, 2011

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Kevin Bacon paddle

This post is all about repetitions, or “reps”, for the cool cats.

You need more of ’em. When you think you’ve done enough, do a hundred more.

I’m not kidding.

I get the impression that most folks trying to learn a skill – say, how to play guitar, for example – think a couple repetitions of a new phrase or chord or strum or scale is enough.

Then you move on to something more, you know…fun! Apparently, to some guitarists, getting your reps in is akin to torture… (more…)

Jim Bowley is a professional guitarist, teacher and blogger. A native of Baltimore, he has over 30 years of playing experience and an advanced degree in Music Education from Towson University. Jim lives in Bel Air, MD where he maintains a thriving private lesson studio and performs with his band, Remains of Radio.

© 2012 Jim Bowley All rights reserved.
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