Sooooo, if you guys checked out my previous entries you would have read about how I made the final decision to become a musician, why I picked up the guitar, and my overall approach to being creative.
Now this blog is supposed to be personal and not have anything to do with my work at all whatsoever, but since this year marks 10 years since I first started playing, I thought it would be cool to write some guitar related entries 🙂
To pick up from where I left last time, I thought it would be amusing and inspiring for other musicians if I wrote about my first audition and most importantly some practise tips.
Sooo here we go:
After two months of guitar playing a friend of mine wanted me to audition for her friends band.
My first reaction was that it was waaaay premature, but then I thought…hey it’s rock’n’roll, who cares?
I was suppose to learn some Nirvana tracks, something I did easily, and off I went thinking to myself “how awesome if I get into a band straight away!!!”.
To cut the story short….it was probably one of the worst auditions ever…why?
Because we never got past….
Sure it had been easy figuring the chords out, but I had not been practising to the recording of the song, which meant that I didn’t know how to relate… to the other musicians….
The bass player was looking down at the floor biting his lip, the lead guitarist was just fiddling away in his own world, but the drummer grew increasingly frustrated and eventually took to shouting and seemed like he was serisouly considering impaling me with his drums sticks….(literally)
At a certain point he put his foot down after 30 or 40 min of us …not getting past the God damn intro…
Needless to say I didn’t get the gig.
The whole thing was embarrassing to say the least.
Nobody likes to hear that they suck ( unless they are very, very strange…) so what do you do when your peers tells you you aren’t good enough?
You can either give up right away and burn or sell your guitar or you can go home and practise.
Which is what I did.
One of the most valuable things I read during the spring of 2005 was an interview with Turbonegro guitarist Knut Schreiner.
One of the many things he said was that ” he knew many great guitar shredders who couldn’t for the love of God function within a band“.
The interview threw light on Schreiner’s role in Turbonegro and his overall approach to songwriting and lead guitar playing.
To be honest, the interview was of such quality and what he said of such importance and relevance, that the interview should have been made into mandatory curriculum for any aspiring guitarist. I feel lucky to have read it.
Around the same time I also read a quote from Anthrax’s Scott Ian, where he said that the best thing to do practise-wise was to play along to recordings.
I figured that my practise method had been completely off.
I went out and bought myself Guitar World and Total Guitar and emigrated into my grandpas attic and later on into the isolated Norse mountains, practising like mad.
What I have compiled below are 20 practise tips from me to you based on my own guitar-experience.
Since the majority of my fans play guitar, I hope that these can be helpful. Keep in mind that musicians who play other instruments might find them useful too 🙂
1- Practise to recordings. It doesn’t matter if you can play the tune if you cannot relate to other musicians or function within a band. Few things can prepare you for playing live, but this is the closest you’ll get.
2-The harsh reality is…that people will judge your technical skills from how well you can play other peoples music. It’s sad, it sucks, but unless you have a number one hit on the billboard or an underground following, nobody will care much about your original music. People might think you technically suck when in fact you are great! Sorry 😦 Also keep in mind that when you do your first gigs, release your first demo’s etc…you will have to “win people over“. Hordes will not come running out of nowhere to worship you the first time you set foot on a stage, you will get fans gradually and unless you are seriously deluded or in denial, you will appreciate every single one of your fans as they come along. ( Thanks people \m/ I love you all \m/ )
3- If you jump in and start writing music right away….things will either go stale after some months or you’ll just repeat yourself into eternity because you don’t have enough knowledge to make things interesting for yourself or express yourself fully. If you feel like you need to extend your musical vocabulary ,either – listen to lots of music and find your own way of playing it… ( thats what I did and still do) or – sit down and study other playing styles profoundly ( this is something I never did, but something music education promotes).
4- Know what you want. Are you a creative songwriter or do you want to play other peoples music? Are you just looking for your own voice or do you want to copy-cat your favourite guitarist? If you are looking to be original and “do-your-own-thing” bear in mind that producers might find you annoying as you haven’t developed your sound yet. It’s easier to go into a recording studio and give the producer someone else’s album as a reference than to enter a studio with nothing except your own crazy ideas and no previous releases of your music as a guide. Embrace yourself and prepare to fight! Take some advice, but don’t let someone in the industry change you into something you are not! If you are a teen or in your early twenties beware of people who’ll try to hijack you in a musical direction you don’t want to go. There might be opportuneties that are very tempting, but don’t work with a famous guy just because he is famous and you hope he’ll make you a star if he isn’t right for you. There are no guarantees in the music biz, so you can might as well stay true to your own musical vision. There are plenty of pop-stars and indie stars that never made it. You’ll hear plenty of stories from seasoned veterans in the industry telling you of how they were told to do such and such and did what they were told, ditching what they stood for only to be let down by the very same industry people who told them to change. Take those stories as a warning. Don’t sell your soul based on nothing but hope. You might end up standing there with nothing. Just because something works for artist such-and-such, it doesn’t automatically mean it will catapult YOU into stardom. Stay true to yourself, people like and remember things that are different! I don’t regret turning down the people I did. I had to make this musical journey my own and I’m happy I did things my way.
5-Practise when you are ill. You want to be a professional musician? Well then you can might as well get used to practising no matter how you feel!!!
6-Practise way more than what you need. Build your stamina.
7-If someone ridicules your passion, see this as your will-power and strength of character being tested. Something you are not willing to fight for is not something that is right for you.
8-If you start late, look up to guitar players who started in their 20’s. Age is just a number.
9- Pick up the guitar with joy. Don’t pick up the guitar when you are mostly miserable. Music might ease your pain and have a therapeutical effect, but you can easily find yourself in a situation where you only associate playing guitar with negative feelings. I was happy for the first time while playing guitar when I started playing classical music, because the majority of the music I have written is extremely negative and was conceived when I was in a negative mindset. This negative association with your instrument might also kill your motivation for playing when your personal life is good. You might find yourself wanting to do anything that has nothing to do with the guitar, just because of the association you have with the instrument.
10-Focus on what you can, not on what you can’t! If you approach the guitar with a ” the glass is half empty mentality” you will become depressed about your playing, you will never be happy. Only later when you listen back to old recordings will you realise that you actually were quite good, you just never realised it at the time, because you were stuck in a negative frame of mind. Don’t do this to yourself. If you do this, try to stop.
11-Compete with yourself. Looking at those behind you will make you a worse player than what you can be, looking at those in-front of you will sow a feeling of inadequacy. If you compete with yourself and track your own progress you can only win! Be better than what you were 2 months ago, if you think like this you will all of a sudden find yourself among the good players, without even knowing it.
12- If you develop skills quickly, it can become hard for the mind to adjust to the fact that your hands can do something that is quite incredible. You might actually get a mental protest reaction, where your mind hasn’t fully accepted what you can actually do. Seek out help so that this doesn’t get in your way and ruins your live playing.
13-Don’t sugar-coat things for yourself. If there is string noise, don’t hide it, solve it. This takes more time and will drive you slightly insane, but trust me, it’s worth it.
14-Don’t let lack of gear get in your way. See this as your determination being tested. I didn’t have an amp until I got an endorsement. I used a Tascam slow downer plugged into a cassette player, that was my speaker. I had to write down music by hand because I couldn’t record it. I was happy when I could record my music on cassettes, because that was the only option available. I made myself a paper piano to practise chords ( I’m not kidding). I boiled my guitar strings like blues players used to, because I was in a place where there were no music stores and I was broke. I used a Norwegian-English dictionary to understand the explanations in the tutorials in Total Guitar and Guitar World, because my english was terrible. I didn’t let anything get in my way when it came to learning guitar. I’m a guitar player because of my attitude.
15-Don’t count the hours you practise in the beginning. I always felt that I didn’t practise enough, this made me feel like a total looser. Remember is all about your focus. Focus beats quantity anytime. 1 or 2 hours of hyper focus is worth more than 8 hours of non-focused practise. Practise whenever you have the time. You can start timing and keeping a practise diary when you are ready for it and your schedule evolves more around music.
16-Don’t be afraid to walk away from bad teachers. If you know what you want, stop kidding yourself. If your teacher cannot teach you want you want or if a teacher argues with you and pepper you with sarcasm, tell him you think he is an ass and WALK OUT!
17-Stay true to yourself. This is the most important thing. Don’t feel like you have to be a super shredder, find what makes you happy and promote your strength. What are your strongest assets?
18-I like to arrange and plan things but I know that the number one tip guitar players always come up with is: Jam! Jam with other people! This is something I still need to get down :0
19-Keep in mind that you are entering an overcrowded field. Everybody plays guitar, nobody will see you unless you are clever. Be creative or start playing drums. Everybody is looking for a drummer or a bass player. You will be more in demand as a metal drummer than as a metal guitarist.
20-If theory doesn’t do it for you don’t despair. We all have our strength and weaknesses. Some are good at memorising, some are good at doing things by ear, some players suck technically but write cool music and are just cool characters, some players are like a music-theory- encyclopaedia. Do your thing, learn what you can from others and give credit where it’s due.
I hope you guys enjoyed these tips! Again this is based on my experience with the instrument! I give guitar lessons on Skype and in person if you live in the UK 😉
For guitar lessons go here: Guitar Lessons!!!
In my next entry I will talk about my first band \m/ Keep an eye on this blog or subscribe to it!
Take care people & never give up \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/