This is the one trick that guarantees absolute guitar mastery…
Practice method is one of the most critical aspects of mastering any instrument and, while people are reminded to practice often, there is never enough emphasis put on optimal practice technique.
People tell you to practice but what they don’t tell you is that if you aren’t practicing correctly, practice can get you nothing but years of frustration…
Yes, I’ve talked to you about practice method on numerous occasions now, but I have a tendency to give you a lot of information all at once which can be hard to absorb and remember. Today, we’ll focus on one thing and this thing is an absolute must if you want to achieve the results you’re looking for.
People love to say “practice with a metronome!” but they rarely tell you how to do it. Simply practicing with a metronome might help you with your timing, but it’s not going to give you much more than that.
If you have full use of your arms, hands and fingers (and even if you don’t in many inspiring cases), you can master any technique using the metronome method I’m going to lay out here.
That is a guarantee.
Do you have an excuse for why you can’t play a certain technique? Forget it. There’s only one excuse you need…
The next time someone asks you “why don’t you have perfect sweep picking technique?,” the only reasonable answer to give is “I don’t use the optimized metronome practice method that Dan Mumm keeps telling me to use.”
You’ve heard me tell you about this before and you probably thought to yourself “that makes sense, I’ll do that!” Maybe you’ve tried it on a few occasions, maybe you fell out of the habit of it. Maybe you meant to do it and forgot about it.
Whatever the reason, if you haven’t started using this method consistently then that is the only reason why you aren’t getting the results you want.
Let’s break down the optimal metronome practice method:
- The first thing to do is to pick out the thing you need to practice. This could be a short excerpt of a guitar solo, an exercise, scale or pattern. This could be raw technique with the picking or fretting hand.
For starters, it’s preferable to have something very short that is an integral part of what you need to perfect.
- Okay, now you know what you need to practice. The next thing to do is to repeat it very slowly until you have it completely memorized. This means that you should be able to consistently play it with your eyes closed, without any mistakes, at a very slow speed.
If you can’t achieve this in just a few minutes then you’re trying to work on something that’s too advanced for the moment (don’t worry, with this method, you’ll be there soon enough). You can either start with a shorter section or put it aside and pick something else to work on for now.
- Now that you have your section memorized, pull out your metronome and set it to a very slow tempo. Determine what is the fastest BPM where it is super easy for you to play the section absolutely, 100%, perfectly – this means with each note being perfectly articulated, each pick stroke being clear and in the right direction, etc.
“Super easy” in this case means that it offers you no challenge whatsoever.
Once you’ve found your fastest, “super easy” BPM, set the metronome to 10 BPM lower than that. If it was 100 BPM, set it to 90 BPM.
Now we’re ready to get started.
- Start running through the pattern with the metronome. When you’ve done 5 perfect repetitions in a row, move the BPM up by 2.
It is absolutely critical that you don’t give yourself even a hair of leeway here. If you make the slightest mistake or if a single note is slightly muffled, start the 5 over again.
- Now, this is where it gets fun. Repeat this process over and over again. Since you are starting at 10 BPM lower than where it is super easy for you, you will get some tremendous momentum going while completely reinforcing the foundation of the techniques.
Keep this up until you reach a BPM where you can’t get 5 perfect repetitions in a row. Don’t push yourself too hard at this point. If you’re getting to 4 in a row fairly easily and simply making small mistakes, keep going until you get the 5 – but if you can barely get through 2, you’ve reached your limit for the day. You’ll get a sense for it as you go.
Often times you’ll reach your limit simply because your fingers are worn out. That is the ideal scenario, although it might not happen on your first few times of doing this.
- Set the metronome to a slower BPM and run the pattern a few times perfectly (we don’t want to end on a bad note), then stop for the day.
This is really important. Do not continue practicing this pattern or section for the remainder of the day.
Sleep on it.
- On the following day, start this process over again.
If you are doing it right, you should be starting at least 4 to 10 BPM faster than the day before and more than 10 BPM slower than where you stopped on the day before. When you’re first getting started with this, there is a small possibility that you’ll have to start where or even slower than where you started the day before – this is unlikely, but nothing to worry about. Again, the most important thing is that it is super easy when you start.
Well, there you have it!
If you want to master the guitar (or at least certain techniques on the guitar), don’t waste another practice day without utilizing this technique. This is how I got my playing to where it is and you can do the exact same thing.
You don’t have to spend hours a day on this, just 15 minutes to an hour. You can practice anything else you want, jam around and have fun but do not skip this practice.
It will completely transform your playing in a matter of days.
And just wait and see where you’ll be in a month and then a year! You will be amazed at your results. I guarantee you that.
When doing this practice method, you aren’t just practicing the section or technique that you’re repeating.
In addition to what you set out to learn, this method polishes your timing, your general articulation, your general picking and fretting skills and so, so much more. This will help you with everything you are learning and everything you want to play. Once you habituate it, you will experience exponential progress on the guitar in general.
Don’t put it off! There is no better investment of 15 minutes a day for a guitarist. It adds up over time and very rapidly. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are looking back 10 years from now and wishing you made this simple investment of time.
Start doing it now!
Dan Mumm is a Metal Method instructor and shred master. Check out Dan’s lessons here.