How to Become Good, Fast.

by Bradley Laird

These 20 tips are ideas which I shared with my students over the years. Many of these ideas came from my students themselves. The teacher often learns more than the student. Many of these ideas and principles apply to any instrument. In fact, many of these ideas apply to learning ANY skill or activity.

Even an absolute beginner knows that they must tune their instrument before they practice or play. Your mind is as important as your instrument in this regard. Reviewing this list of ideas is a form of tuning your mind, which is perhaps more important than tuning your instrument.

Here are twenty self-affirmations which should be read aloud before each practice session:


1. I read this aloud before every practice session.

2. I know the difference between practice and playing. There are times for each. I don't practice when I play; I don't play when I practice.

3. I use a metronome or another steady time source. I will become a steady time source.

4. I practice slowly. I know that slow movements executed perfectly will train my muscles and my brain to do things corrrectly. Sometimes slowing the movements to an absoute standstill will reveal something valuable. I test my abilities by practicing quickness. In practice, there is no correct tempo. There is only the best tempo for me and that is the one that feels correct. I know that gains in speed are achieved imperceptibly by much practice at the speed where I play the best.

5. If I am making mistakes I will slow down, figure out why and correct them.

6. I will be aware of all parts of the body--those parts that are not involved in making the
note sound.

7. I will concentrate on what I am doing.

8. I will work on the things that are difficult and not avoid them.

9. I work from a written practice schedule. When work seems like play I know that I am accomplishing great things! When playing seems like work I am on the wrong path.

10. I don’t grip the pick, the neck, or an idea too tightly and I make sure I am not holding my breath.

11. I mentally play on "top of the strings."

12. I never "lift a finger"--I simply release the muscle pull.

13. I don’t watch TV or have a TV on when I practice.

14. I practice performing.

15. I visualize myself being a good player and know that every great musician, at one time in their past, was less accomplished than I am now.

16. As I practice, I study and analyze myself and listen to the music I am producing.

17. I know that "short and frequent" is better than "long and infrequent". This applies to
practice, vacations, petting my dog, watering my plants, washing my clothes, etc.

18. I know that every musician is a beginner with regard to only that which they have not yet accomplished well. I know that every musician is a master of only that which they have accomplished well. All musicians are both beginner and master of something.

19. I think about what I am doing so that later I do not have to think. I work now so that later I may play.

20. My teacher can not teach me to play well. My teacher can only teach me how to teach myself. I am, at this moment, my own teacher and I am also the student. I am now ready to practice.

Reading that aloud may eat up a few precious moments of your practice time but that short mental tune-up will make the rest of your practice time more effective.

Feel free to add to or change this into your own personal mantra as you see fit. The overall mindset of the student is more important than any single concept.

If you find these ideas helpful please share them with others. I also welcome you to explore my free lessons, my instructional videos, my ebooks and other things.

Bradley Laird

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