Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately. I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…
In regard to a recent email about being focused on only learning what you want to learn, this is what Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy member, Don said in reply…
“After reading one of the Beatles biographies I realized too that if you practice 8+ hours a day (as many or most of the greats did in the 60s and 70s) you’ll likely get good regardless…
But for those of us who don’t have that luxury, focusing on the style you want to play or musician you want to be like is key.
Hadn’t given much thought to that before. But, will now.
BTW, you say ‘make sure your basic technique is always improving’.
Please tell me that by practicing a number of the songs you already know every day with focus, I will show improvement over time.
I’m now at the point where I need to focus on my right-hand technique.
Thanks again for all your lessons, advice, and encouragement.”
8 hours per day of practising guitar is a lot!
There is no way I could do 8 hours per day, at least not at an optimal level of practice.
At least I might be able to finish off that acoustic prog-rock piece I was working on years ago!
Anyway, back in the real world, for most of us who only have 20-60 minutes or so of practice time per day, time management is key.
Hence why I say focus on what you want to learn, not what others try to push on you.
As for Don’s question about improving,…
Yes, by practising songs each day, you will improve them.
Just make sure you plan your practice time, you spot and fix any weak areas in the songs, and you stay conscious of actually trying to improve them, not just playing them.
There are students of mine who are making subtle improvements all the time with songs they have been able to play for years.
Often these are small 1% improvements here and there, but over the weeks and months they add up massively.
Anyway, onto Email #2
“Hi Dan, I found your book on Amazon, so purchased it tonight, hoping I can get rolling.
I was asked at my church if I would join them with their music practice on Friday night playing guitar, so I said yes. Last Saturday I played my guitar and sang for the first time for the congregation, so that was cool.
I’m not good at changing keys on a whim if someone wants to sing in a different key, so that is a concern.
Not sure how to do this fast when the piano player changes the key for the singer. Any wisdom on how to do this?
I just have to be careful I don’t get carpal tunnel again. Do you know of some exercises to strengthen my wrists?”
Both good questions, but first that is fantastic that Linda got up and performed in front of others.
It takes guts to do that.
In terms of changing keys on a whim, yes, that is simple.
Use a capo.
Basically, it works like this:
If, when not using a capo, you are in the key of C:
Then you place a capo on fret 2, it will be in the key of D,
Place a capo on fret 4, you will be in E.
There is a little theory involved in working it out, but it is not too hard with a bit of practice.
In terms of strengthening up your wrists, that is a question best left for your doctor.
I am not qualified to give medical advice (it would be like getting advice from Dr Nick from The Simpsons).
What I am qualified to say though, is get the 3Ps of your playing sorted.
That is Posture, Positioning, and Pressure.
These will reduce strain and pressure on your wrists, hands, and fingers while making the physical feeling of playing guitar more enjoyable.
As I always say, there is no need for Arnold Schwarzenegger-like strength to play guitar – it is good technique that counts.
Anyway, to learn the method of the crucial “3 Ps” of Posture, Positioning, and Pressure, you can check this out:
Enjoy your day!
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.