By: William Swanson
There are those days when you just don’t feel like working on that same tune again, days when that song your writing just isn’t coming together, days when your fingers just can’t handle another try at ‘classical gas’ – but you either want to play or need to play.
For most of us if we are playing guitar its because we want to, we love it, we enjoy being able to make good sounds with this stringed instrument and that means as soon as we put ourselves in that place where we ‘have to play’ we already took the best part of it out of the whole experience. We’ve made it a chore!
So let’s look at some options here:
Option one – take the playing out of the studio. Take your guitar with you when you go sit in front of the tv for the evening. Keep the volume down on your playing by either by not plugging in (on an electric) or soft plucking (on an acoustic) so you can sit there and watch your show or movie without it being overcome by your playing, the guitar isn’t your main focus, just a way to keep your hands busy while watch.
Option two – just practice playing clean. Take the time to form your chords perfectly and strum with evenness. Listen carefully to make sure it sounds just right. Hit each string one at a time and make sure each one rings out like it’s supposed to. This is a great way to improve your technique without any pressure of keeping time or maintaining the rhythm of a certain song, its simple and basic and still a necessary part of playing well.
Option three – learn tv tunes, movie soundtracks or stuff people you are around will most likely recognize. Things like the Friends theme, Hawaii five-O, the Simpsons, the twilight zone riff, or even stuff like the final jeopardy theme are a great way to mix it up and when people hear these they are impressed not only with your skill but your ability to take them back to a part of their childhood – or even last week.
This last option is actually pretty cool for a few reasons. You can find simple tunes, medium, or even complicated or tricky versions so you can choose how much effort to put in. You can pick some up immediately or spend more time practicing until you get it just right. It’s also a great way to work on timing and rhythm because they are supposed to sound a certain way and people who know these tunes will be able to tell you how great you’re doing (or give other feedback that maybe you aren’t too crazy about).
Option four – if you usually use a pick in your strumming hand try playing something you know well with your thumb. If that gets easy try playing with your thumb and index finger, adding the middle finger as it feels comfortable. If you’re already a finger player try going the other direction and using a pick. It might seem a step back but it teaches your hand to move differently, and it helps beat the boredom blues.
These are just some options to help break you out of the same old – hope it helps you find a new lease on this wonderful tone trip you’re on.
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