Practicing Guitar Is NOT Supposed To Sound GOOD!

Practicing Guitar Is NOT Supposed To Sound GOOD!

Tommaso Zillio

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guitar practice sound

What would they say if they heard you practicing your guitar?

(… because if anybody heard me practicing guitar, they would run away screaming at the horrible noise…)

… but let’s do things in order. So let me ask you first: what do you sound like when you practice your guitar?

More importantly, what should you sound like when you practice?

Most people give a default answer like: “Why, I should sound as good as I can. What else?”

We can turn this question to: what do the absolute best guitar players sound like when they practice? If you were to be able to hear what Jimi Hendrix sounded like when he practiced every day, what would you hear?

Well, I think I have a pretty good idea. Most great guitar players sound very similar when they practice because they are all focusing on the same thing.

Because yes, there is pretty much just one thing that great guitar players focus on when they practice.

(And no, it’s not how to dial in the gnarliest toan on their brand-new BOSS(TM) Metal Zone)

The pros are focused on how to improve the fastest.

Instead, most average guitar players focus on “sounding good”.

And so, paradoxically, pro guitar players often sound worse than average players when they practice. And this is also why you will never see the pros actually practice - they will not be caught with their pants down.. pardon practicing guitar in public.

(Instead, they will fake practice in public, so people will say that they sound good “even when they practice”… but don’t be fooled, that is still a performance)

Guitar players from Jimi Hendrix to Yngwie Malmsteen wouldn’t sound 1/10th as good as they do (or did, sorry Jimi) if they weren’t completely dialed in on how to improve as fast and as much as humanly possible.

And this means that there are moments when they sound positively horrible

But what do those players do to improve so much, and why does it have so much to do with what they sounded like when they practiced?

You’ll just need to click on this video to see what that is.

Now, after you watch this video, you might be finding yourself in need of some new things to practice on your guitar so you can try this method out.

If that’s the case, check out this FREE eBook, giving you some tips on making your pentatonic solos sound professional

Video Transcription

Hello internet, so nice to see you!

I have an interesting question that reveals a number of great things about playing guitar that I want to address with you.

Painful to watch. Also went from writing a song to soloing?

This is not what you expected. But I think this comment is incredibly interesting. Why? Because he tells you exactly how things look like in reality, let me tell you, let me show you.

So this video where this comment was on was a video of a lesson of mine when I explained a student who asked about how to write melodies in her songs. And I explained to her a little bit of ear training and the way I explained the ear training is that I have her improvise a few lines on the guitar, okay, simple stuff like just pentatonic scale, and have her sing around. Okay, along the lines of the guitar.

And, by the way, she’s also a singer, she’s much better than me. I’m horrible at singing and singing in tune, but that’s a great exercise. Okay. And if you just try it for a few minutes, you’ll see what I mean. And I again, I linked the video, so you guys will see exactly what I was doing and why.

But this comment, this comment says two important things. It only said it in a negative way. So you just are tempted to dismiss it, because it’s a negative comment. But this is really, really important.

The first thing is that it’s painful to watch. Yes, exactly. Whenever you practice, if somebody was there watching you, that will be painful to watch, if your practice is not painful to watch, if you’re not ashamed of how much you’re failing during practice, how slow you’re going to be, how many mistakes you make, and all this kind of thing you are not actually practicing. Okay?

That’s the important thing. That’s why we practice by ourselves in the privacy of our own our own bedrooms, or studios or whatever, and not in public. Because we want to be allowed to make all the mistakes, okay?

The optimal I mean, it’s gonna be, if anybody will see how I practice, they will cringe from beginning to end. But they see that’s the point, the optimal amount of cringe is not zero, okay? If you never cringe while you’re practicing, you are not trying hard enough. And in that video, in that lesson, we were trying hard enough.

So of course, it’s painful to watch. That’s kind of the point of you’re breaking new ground, we’re doing something different. We are trying some stuff for the first time, you cannot expect yourself to do stuff right the first time.

This is incredibly important, because I have a number of people that write me in the comment, in YouTube, via email, that they don’t think they have the talent, they don’t think they can do this. And they tried exactly once. Guys, the first time you’re gonna fail, period, that’s it. Okay. So, yes, it is painful to watch. That’s kind of the point.

The second thing, the second thing that is common says is that we go from writing a melody, to improvising, to lead playing, I think the comment says, But you see, so that’s another point. It’s writing a melody and improvising a lead, are very closely related activities. Okay.

Every musician who is able to write a great melody is also able, at some level to improvise. Because when you write a melody, that’s what you do. You try, you hear, you try again, you hear again, and you keep refining the melody until it sounds the way you want.

The melody does not spring out of your mind completely formed the first time. Okay, so again, yes, it’s painful to watch the first time you write a melody, the first few notes that come out, are typically horrible, you may get lucky every now and then. But then you try again and again and again. And the process is very similar to what we call improvisation.

And that’s why if you want to become a good songwriter, or a good musician, in general, you should study a little bit of improvisation. And we have this myth of the perfect composer who sits down at their instrument, the piano, the guitar, whatever, and write the melody right the first time and this may happen once you’ve made all the mistakes. But the reality is that all the great melody writers of all eras were great improviser.

Bach was a great improviser. Mozart was known more for his improvisation than his actual composition. Beethoven made his fame by improvising better than other people. Okay, Chopin, Liszt, whatever. And this is true until until until right now, people who can write great melodies are typically also great at improvising, okay?

Of course, The level of quality between improvising something in real time and writing a melody and taking all the time, and trial and error that you need, it’s different, the melody is going to be more refined. But it’s important to realize that those two things are correlated. Okay?

And again, so I thank the person who wrote this comment, even if he or she wrote this comment in a very negative way, because they see that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to look horrible. Okay, for 99% of the time, at least, it’s supposed to be painful, okay? Not to be painful, but at least look painful, it will be painful to watch.

And writing melody looks a lot like improvisation when you’re doing it. And that’s important to know. Because when you come here on YouTube, or you go on Instagram, or Twitter or anywhere else, you see only the perfect take, you see only the 60 second, this minute of those great players playing the perfect piece of music and you never see the hours that came before when they sat down, improvise, made a mistake, practice the right technique, got it wrong, corrected. It made it better. Okay.

And again, by design, of course, we want to show off our best side, not our worst side. And I mean, that’s just as it was supposed to be. But if you are learning an instrument know that that’s the 1% of the time. The other 99% is you making a fool of yourself with your instrument and just fooling around noodling, having fun, trying to try new things, putting it together, failing, failing, again, failing a third time, until you can make it okay.

So thank you for that comment, because it was great. And if you want to know more about how to learn these instrument, I recommend you guys check out my courses – hey, it’s the internet, not only are we trying to show you our best side, but we are also trying to sell you our courses. So check out my courses at the link on the top right.

If you liked this video, smash that like button if you agree with me that practice sometimes looks painful. Click on the Subscribe button. I’m going to show you way more many more painful moments and things in this channel. And if you have any comments about this, please write in the comment. I love reading your feedback. I love reading your questions. If you have questions, write them in the comment. I love answering to that. This is Tommaso Zillio of MusicTheoryForGuitar.com, and until next time, enjoy!

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