Nailed a lick but can't perform it? Do this!

  • Download the Guitar Pro file here
  • Backing track here

    Ever spent hours perfecting a killer lick, only to freeze up when it's time to play it live or in a jam session? If you're nodding along, you're not alone. This is a common struggle among guitarists, and today, we're diving deep into why it happens and how to overcome it.

    Understanding the Issue
    When we practice, we often start slow, gradually increasing speed with a metronome. The problem arises when we try to transition from practice to real-life musical situations like jamming or performing. Suddenly, that perfectly practiced lick falls apart.

    Why Does it Happen?
    There are a couple of reasons behind this. Firstly, while we may have mastered the physical execution of the lick, our brain hasn't learned to integrate it into a musical context. Secondly, there's a tendency to practice with mistakes, assuming we'll eventually get it right. But when performing, there's no room for error.

    How to Fix It
    To bridge the gap between practice and performance, we need to practice with a metronome at a slower speed, ensuring clean execution. But more importantly, we must incorporate the lick into a musical context early on. That means playing it over backing tracks or jamming along with other musicians.

    Example Jam Session
    I demonstrate this concept by jamming over a backing track in C minor. By combining a fancy lick with melodic phrases, we create a cohesive musical statement. It's not just about executing the lick; it's about using it to build towards something melodic and meaningful.

    Here is the C minor scale I am using with our melody notes in green, and fast notes in red.

    Avoiding Timing Mistakes
    One crucial point to remember is the importance of timing. Even if you hit a wrong note, staying in time is key. Timing errors are far more noticeable and detrimental than a few off-key notes.

    In summary, mastering a lick isn't just about playing it flawlessly; it's about integrating it into your musical vocabulary. By practicing with purpose and playing in musical contexts, you'll be better equipped to shine in live performances and jam sessions.

    So next time you're practicing that fancy lick, remember to focus on more than just technique. It's all about the music! 


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