I would say that most of the time people associate practicing the guitar with sitting down, grabbing their guitar, and then practicing scales, licks, and other things that the person wants to improve on.
However, I believe that you can develop your guitar playing by practicing without a guitar as well. True, there is no substitute for actual guitar playing practice, but many times I think this technique can really benefit you.
So what am I talking about doing? I’m talking about visualizing yourself playing the things you are working on in your head. You see the guitar in you hands, and you see yourself performing these licks, bends, phrases, and solos perfectly just like they should be played.
You should also hear the sound of the licks in your head as well. If you can visualize yourself flawlessly performing these ideas, it will give you more confidence, and will speed up the memorization process of learning these solos, licks, or whatever you’re practicing.
I’m not talking about just casually thinking about playing these things. I’m talking about YOU, looking down at the guitar in your hands and seeing the lick being performed with sound, either slowly, or at full speed, just the way you want it. For this to happen, you will need to be able to sing the part in your head that you are working on, and know where your fingers are supposed to go on the fretboard. This is where your physical practice should take place first.
Ex. Seeing your 3rd finger slide into the 10th fret of the b string, then your first finger playing the 8th fret, and then your 3rd finger bending and applying vibrato to the string.
You can also try to improvise around what you are learning as well. I find myself doing this all the time before a show. If there are songs I need to learn, I will first sit down and learn the songs, then throughout the week I will think about myself performing these songs, playing the solos, and trying to improvise around certain parts If I need to.
I find that by using this technique, it really improves the speed at which I can learn new songs and licks. Sometimes I like to envision myself on stage playing the stuff I am learning and watching it go really well! This may sound a little weird, but I find it really gets me excited about what I could do for that song in a live performance setting!
What’s good about this technique, is that you can do it anywhere.
- Waiting in line at the grocery store.
- Sitting in your car at a red light.
- Relaxing on the couch. Caution, this will require you to put down that smarthone and forget about Facebook for a little while. 🙂
- While you are taking a walk.
- Cooking something to eat.
- During commercials
You get the picture.
I have been doing this for many years now and I really feel that it works great. Usually I am constantly walking around creating new licks in my head and trying to figure them out without even thinking about it. Sometimes it can get aggravating and you have to learn how to turn it off!
Well, that pretty much sums up what I wanted to say about this topic. I highly suggest that you give it a try.