Cease to Think!

Posted: April 25, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks

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“We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.” -¬†William Hazlitt, 1778-1830

This is so true! Think about driving a car, when you were first learning you had to think about everything, every detail, and you were probably a danger on the road. If you’ve been driving a long time, like me, I don’t think about the details anymore, it’s all automatic, and I think I’m pretty safe now too. Let’s apply this concept to playing guitar.

To truly play well, you need to let go and not concentrate on every little detail, let the music flow through you. If you can pick up your guitar and play a piece of music without thinking about it, you know you’ve mastered it. This applies to playing songs, solos, improvising whatever. I know the best solos I play just happen.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t think when you practice. That’s what practice is for, finding weaknesses and making them strengths. This takes conscious effort and paying attention to everything, even if it’s a small detail. When practicing don’t gloss over any notes, they’re all important and they all need your special attention. Conversely, your goal when you perform live, in the studio or even just for fun, is to be able to let go and let it flow.

There’s book called “Effortless Mastery” by Kenny Werner that explores this topic in depth. I haven’t read the book yet, but I saw Kenny speak about it at MI a while back and it was fascinating. If you’re interested in learning more about this concept check out his book.

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