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Identifying Weak Points In Your Fretboard Knowledge Whilst Becoming Well-Read

I thought I would share with my readers a technique that I often employ, although only with the more advanced of my students, that really helps to open up the mind to being able to hear that inner voice whilst playing. It is a bit unusual but it really works. Plus, you can brush up on your knowledge of literature simultaneously.

Let me tell you how I developed this technique. After playing for many years, many hours every day, I realised that although I had initially allocated the entire capacity of my mind reciting and replaying patterns and positions, after what had become thousands of hours, I could actually hear other things in my mind WHILE I was playing scales, sequences or licks. Then the trick is, I found out, to be able to play the sound you heard instantaneously, or even just when you have finished the idea that you are currently playing, so that your playing constantly moves and is full of life.

When you have finished trying to play the sound that you heard in your mind, you can get on with playing the well rehearsed licks, changes and positions until the phantasm in your mind strikes again. However, this technique only works if your knowledge of the fretboard and the key that you’re playing in is so secure that you are able to open a channel to that other part of yourself.

But, how do you recognise which part of the guitar fingerboard, or which positions of scales are your weak points? Well, you just read a book. Any book. But, you have to play the guitar at the same time and read the book out loud as you go. You will soon recognise which areas you stop reading in or stutter, slip or pause or the areas where you make mistakes or are more cautious in improvising, and they are the things to practise more. Your weak points.

Now, I would recommend trying this yourself first. Get a book, open it at any page and read while you practise. With feeling. The more of your mind that you can allocate to reading, the less you actually need to play and thus the bigger the space for ideas to appear in your mind for you to get out of your head and under the fingers.

The next stage is to try it with a student. Take it in turns, a paragraph each. Really read, no monosyllabic monotone stuff but like you were reading to an audience. You’ll soon find out how much better you can actually get.

In the video below, I thought I would start the ball rolling by taking us down the hobbit hole in Lord of the Rings. As you’ll see in the video, I make a mistake around the 12th fret and I am a bit cautious in position 2, so that is what I will practise more of, Ionian to Locrian position and back.

For those who prefer Rumble:

Feel free to record your literary escapades and post them here, that would be a real interesting exercise and I would love to hear your experiences, but be warned, its not for the faint hearted.

My book as always is available here

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