Archie came home from school the other day, singing two new songs…
“Help” by The Beatles and “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley.
…And certainly, better than that “Baby Shark” song!
Archie then told me about how he and 5 other kids in his school year all got up on the outdoor stage in the afternoon and sang both songs in front of the school.
…As the headteacher played guitar.
It was strange how Archie just offhandedly mentioned this, like it was no big deal.
…But of course, going up on stage and performing in front of anyone is a big deal, no matter what your age.
He said one thing in particular helped.
…And that was taking a few big deep breaths before going up on stage.
In fact, let’s go back in time two weeks.
A few weeks earlier, Archie’s mom and I and the other parents of Year 1 got invited to see the kids do a speech performance in the school assembly.
All the kids had to say a line about a famous hero.
Archie’s line was about Florence Nightingale, who of course was an incredible person, and someone he admires too.
He was super nervous leading up to that event and he really didn’t want to do it.
So, to help his nerves, Archie’s mom told him to take a big deep breath before speaking…
…And when it came to his turn to speak, Archie paused, took a huge dramatic breath, and said his line.
It worked, and he said it really confidently.
Anyway, I thought I’d share this, not to be a bragging dad or anything (maybe slightly, I am proud after all!), but to talk about how challenging performing is for anyone.
Even confident 6-year-olds feel pressure like this.
…But the more we do it, the better we get.
And that can be if we play guitar just for ourselves, our family, or even when recording yourself on video (which can be a surprisingly challenging thing to do!)
But more importantly, I wanted to emphasise the other thing…
This is incredibly important (well, “duh” you might say).
But breathing is important to help your body relax when you play guitar.
This means less tension, less stiffness, and more fluidity in your playing (not to mention more enjoyment).
I’ve seen students almost turn red in the face when they play, such were the bad habits they developed.
Getting them to breathe slowly and deeply before they play was my first port of call in helping them to fix their bad habits and transform their playing.
So, if you’re ever tense when you play guitar, try this:
Sit with your guitar for a minute or two and just breathe, wiggle your shoulders, stretch your arms, and shake off all tension.
Then, as you play, stop, and remind yourself to keep breathing, nice and deeply.
It’s simple advice, but it’s so important and I rarely ever hear anyone else mention it.
…But it will make a difference, especially when you combine this with the unusual but effective technique-building tips in my book, Essential Guitar Technique.
This book is the #1 guide in my bundle, and you can find out more about it here…
Have a great Sunday!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.