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"How To Analyze, Memorize, And Retain Guitar Music"
What you are about to learn
are the same secrets that
Aaron Shearer revealed to me when I was one of his students at
Peabody Conservatory of Music. They are the most powerful learning techniques that exist
and if you use them consistently they will change your guitar playing forever! What you
are going to learn, very simply stated is "How To Learn"! Think about this, when
someone has given you a piece of guitar music to learn, did they ever tell you
"how" to learn It? Probably not. Most people learn by rote repetition
which is repeating something over and over again until it finally gets beaten into their
head. This is very time- consuming and usually falls apart if the performer gets nervous.
The "mental imagery / visualization" techniques you are about to learn are very
time-efficient because you will be using your brain to it's fullest extent. Remember, your
fingers only do what your brain tells them to do. Clear things up in your head and you'll
stop making mistakes when you play guitar!
The "mental imagery / visualization" procedure you will use consists of 5 steps. All 5 steps must be completed for each measure of the piece of music before going on to the next measure. The first 4 steps must be done with your guitar in it's case. This is important! Keep your guitar in it's case for the first 4 steps!
Step #1 - Count and clap the rhythmic structure of the measure. For example in 4/4 time you would count quarter notes as 1-2-3-4. eighth notes as 1+2+3+4+, sixteenth notes as 1a+ah, 2a+ah, 3a+ah, 4a+ah. etc. You would clap the side of your leg with your right hand whenever you would strike a string or groups of strings. This will let you determine and hear the rhythmic structure of the measure - which is the most basic part of music.
Step #2 - Determine the left hand fingering for the measure. Using the palm of your left hand as the fretboard, actually press down the finger or fingers you will use to play the notes and chords in the measure while at the same time picturing or seeing the strings and the guitar neck in your mind's eye as if you were physically playing it.
Step #3 - Determine the right hand fingering for the measure. If playing with a pick, you would have to decide whether you are picking up or down for each note. If playing fingerstyle you would have to decide which fingering sequences you would use. At this point your right hand fingers or your pick would actually be picking the air while in your mind's eye you are picturing or seeing the string or strings that you are playing.
Step #4 - Do steps 2 and 3 at the same time, really striving to see the string and frets in your mind's eye as you are playing them in the air, while at the same time counting out loud.
Step #5 - Take you guitar out of the case and actually play the measure you were working on. If you can play it 3 times in a row with no mistakes, then you understand and know that measure. Now you can proceed to the next measure and use the same 5-step process for it. After you have completed the new measure, be sure to actually perform the new measure with the old measure. This way you are building the piece of music by attaching each measure to the one before it - much like you would build a chain by attaching each new link to the one before it.
This "mental imagery / visualization" procedure woks so well because it allows you to focus clearly on each hand separately. If you understand the fingerings for each hand separately, combining them together isn't that difficult. The problem for us guitarists has always been trying to do too many things at once! If you need additional help in understanding fingering possibilities, I would recommend the Aaron Shearer method books for classical or fingerstyle guitar - on the "Classical" page of our website, and the William Leavitt method books for pickstyle guitar on the "Jazz Books L-Z" page of our website. I've used these with my students for years with excellent results.
In closing, I know that this "mental imagery / visualization" procedure can make you a more competent and confident guitarist in a short amount of time if you just use it consistently. Nothing has benefited me more. Like anything else, you'll get better and better at it as time goes on. You'll also have an advantage over other guitarists because now you know "How" to learn!
P.S. If you ever have any questions, or just need some help choosing the right book or DVD to help you become a better guitarist, I'm personally available for advice at 1-800-913-9477 so don't hesitate to call or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.P.S. Also, you might want to join my Free internet "Guitar Lesson of The Month Club". Each month I'll e-mail you a hand-picked guitar solo from my personal collection along with valuable technique tips and pointers on how to play and memorize it. Just e-mail me and I'll be glad to sign you right up!