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I’ve had many successes and failures in learning a new song on my guitar. I don’t necessarily have a set procedure when learning a piece. It depends on how much I like the song and/or how difficult it is. I do make mistakes in my routine and in trying to address this, I have compiled a list of my top five. All of these tend to create bad habits that impair my ability to learn and put the whole thing together into a successful performance.
Top 5 Mistakes:
- I don’t sight read the whole piece when initially getting to know the song. This keeps me from getting the full picture and I tend to have trouble putting it all together. I can’t tell you how many songs I learned where all I could perform was the first minute or so.
- Try to play it at full tempo too soon. This tends to create mistakes or bad habits like poor fingering or timing issues. I’m getting better at playing slower tempos and then working my way up but still “fall off the wagon” every once in a while.
- I don’t give it a rest when needed. I get so obsessed with the song, I think the more I practice, the faster I learn and the better it will be. I have found that the opposite can be true. Sometimes stepping away for a day or two gives me a fresh perspective and I tend to play the piece better when coming back.
- I focus on the “fun” or challenging parts or a piece but neglect the rest. The result is that I might be able to play certain parts well but the rest of the piece is sub par and in turn, the performance suffers.
- I don’t warm up properly. I sometimes jump into the song without any warming up which can result in me playing like crap. This is especially true when the song is technically difficult.