The world's most neglected art form is practice. Your ability to excel at anything springs from the power of repetition; repetition is the mother of skill. The fundamentals serve as the cornerstone of every player’s game, whether they're a beginner or an advanced player. In this post, I want to offer you four key practice fundamentals that will significantly enhance your overall playing.
1. Warm-up before you start your session:
It is crucial to properly warm up and get your fingers ready before diving into playing. Warming up allows for a thorough assessment of your technique through slow and patient movements. Consider stretching your fingers to extend tendons and muscles, making them more flexible and ready.
Your warm-up exercises can include ten-minute exercises for both left and right hands, improving stability in the hand, finger independence, coordination, and overall playing. Extending the ten-minute limit can overwhelm the fingers before the actual practice or performance of the piece begins. As a right-hand warmup, I incorporate E major scale arpeggios using PIMAMI, PAMIMA, and PMIAIMI, and the chromatic scale on the first four frets combining IM fingers as a left-hand warmup.
Treat warm-up exercises as an integral part of your practice routine to prevent stiffness and potential injury when playing challenging pieces.
2. Divide your playing into parts:
The saying "consuming the elephant" advises breaking a task up into manageable chunks rather than doing it all at once. This method is applicable to all learning. My teacher Alberto explains this to me through the "play it 10x" method. This philosophy challenges the player to play one measure ten times slowly and accurately, aiming to play the piece exactly as it sounds in their head before moving on to the next measure.
Dividing individual measures before combining them helps you hear each part independently and allows for the identification and correction of mistakes without being overwhelmed and unsure where to begin.
3. USE Correct repetitions:
Improvement hinges on correct repetitions. Playing a measure ten times defeats the purpose if the incorrect technique is used for every repetition. Practice with proper technique every time to avoid developing bad habits that hinder progress.
Understand that correct technique stems from correct practice. Consistently working on fundamentals with precision is essential for long-term improvement in your musical journey. We should always be aware of our right hand and arm. Ensure your right arm touches the guitar just in front of the elbow, your right wrist is straight with a relaxed arch, your right hand plays above the rosette, and your right-hand fingers move into the palm rather than up and away. Keep your right-hand thumb in front of your fingers.
4. Less is morE in practice fundamentals
The purpose of practice is not to do many things, but to do a few things many times. I must constantly remind myself to avoid the common mistake of over-practicing, with the belief that more practice leads to mastery. Instead, we should focus on mastering fundamentals and ensuring their solidity before progressing to more advanced pieces.
Quality practice is more effective than quantity. Each practice session should stand alone as a testament to your progress, allowing you to gauge how far your skills have developed.
Don't forget, You've got this
Successful practice relies on mastering these four fundamentals. Each element builds on the others, so ensure proficiency in each before advancing to more advanced repertoires. If you encounter challenges with a particular piece, don't hesitate to seek feedback from your teacher until you reach your desired level of playing. Consistent commitment to these fundamentals will pave the path to greater refinement and achievement.
Light Pierre, BA, is a student and content creator at Alberto Puerto Music. She has been studying classical guitar at the studio for over one year, and is excited to continue the path as a musician and member of the studio production team.