So you’ve watched all the vids, learned all the scales by heart, and the only thing left to do is play them faster and more fluid because you feel you’re just slogging along and you feel your solos are choppy. Well, here’s the secret: PRACTICE. That’s it! No joke.
Of course, there are exercises that help with developing speed. But those are just exercises not meant to be musical though some may seem so. Yngwie Malmsteen has some excruciating exercises that he uses to develop speed. For awhile there, he was the king of speed. But more importantly, his playing was absolutely fluid. His secret? PRACTICE.
What brought this subject up was a discussion I was having with my son yesterday. He’s studying computer science, and I’m a software architect so it’s cool to mentor my own kin for a change. He’s currently learning design patterns, which is a particular specialty of mine, as I’ve been applying them to my own designs for years. Especially with respect to object-oriented programming, using design patterns really helps in making designs much more sensible and organized.
But one of the things I mentioned to my son yesterday was that in all my years as a software engineer and engineering manager, I’ve observed that roughly 95% of the people I’ve interviewed learned design notation like UML in school but have NEVER employed it professionally. To a person, their excuse has been that it slows them down.
What a crock of S$%T! In fact, the fastest developers I’ve ever worked with are those who work out the problem first, then code. Moreover, because they’ve worked out the problem first their code tends to be significantly less buggy than those who just pound out code. I’ve taught many of those developers I’ve worked with. At first, they flail with their designs, but after a couple of weeks they become better at it and faster. Then as they gain more experience, not only are they faster at coming up with a design, their coding, which at that point becomes a mere formality, is super-fast.
Here’s a great example. Back in 2007, I took on a team of developers to build our company’s very first single-page web application. The initial project lead had estimated that the project would take 13 months to complete. But teaching my team members proper design techniques, and having them practice it on a daily basis, we got the first usable version of the product out in less than four months! And it only took that long because we didn’t have a back-end developer until three months into the project! We started the project in October, and were completed with the front-end application before Christmas shutdown!
The point to this was that practice made the team and its individuals faster, but it also made their work style much more fluid. And the same applies to guitar. Speed and fluidity can only be achieved by committing oneself to practice. Yes, it’s a rather pedestrian and utilitarian affair, but there’s no way around it. You just gotta practice.