So, if you’ve read the previous post, you’ll already know who I am, and how I learnt the guitar.
If not, then feel free to go back and read it!
Today, I’m going to talk to you about my proven guitar method for learning the guitar. Remember how, in the last post, I said that I was practising for around 8 hours a day but getting nowhere fast?
Well, it’s not that I wasn’t practising hard- far from it! I mean, when I say that I was practising for 8 hours a day, I mean just that- focused practise.
So, how could I possibly fail to improve?!
My Epic, 8 Hour Practise Routine
To understand what was going wrong (and therefore avoid the same mistakes, yourself), let’s take a look at exactly what I was doing with my time.
If I remember correctly, my mammoth, 8 hour routine was divided roughly like this:
- 1 Hour Chromatic Exercises (alternate picking)
- 1 Hour Legato exercises (hammer-ons and pull-offs)
- 1 Hour Sweep Picking and Tapping Exercises
- 1 Hour Scales Practise (memorisation)
- 1 Hour Break
- 2 Hours working on a piece or song
- 2 Hours Improvisation (with backing tracks)
These are only rough guides, as I would generally adjust each section depending on how I felt. Either way, it worked out around 7 or 8 hours a day.
Now, you may look at that and think it’s a great way to practise the guitar- I thought so at the time. However, if you break it down, I’m spending 4 hours working on just techniques and scales.
Also, there is nothing in there covering things like: music theory, learning the notes on the neck, chords and rhythm playing…you get the idea. It’s just not a rounded and balanced routine.
I was only focusing on lead playing, and how to shred. Every aspect of my routine was controlled by the metronome– and I measured how well I was improving by how fast I could go.
Playing fast and really shredding is not a bad thing to do. It’s just that if all you practise is exercises, all you’re learning to play is some exercises- and not music!
Ever wonder why some solos just sound like exercises? Those guitarists have probably been making this same, common mistake.
Music is not a series of exercises strung together!
Learning from My Mistakes
Anyway, I eventually paid the price for this pure focus on speed. I had been over-working the muscles in my hand, wrist and arm. This lead me to develop RSI (or repetitive strain injury) in my wrist.
Actually, what had happened is that my wrist had swollen up slightly. This had pinched the nerve responsible for controlling some of my fingers. Practising for long hours doesn’t always pay!
I was practising 8 hours a day, but wasn’t getting anywhere musical- and now I couldn’t feel my fretting hand. This wasn’t good!
So, I had to quit playing guitar for a few weeks until the swelling went down. This gave me some extra time to understand what I’d been doing wrong. Instead of giving up, I improved my technique, and improved my routine.
On the Way to Recovery
Before now, I had mostly been working on trial and error when it came to my technique. Now, with a little more understanding of how the hand works, I discovered how to avoid these kinds of injury.
I looked at things like the Alexander Technique, but this wasn’t specific enough to the guitar. I wanted something that would help me with my guitar technique– which is what I finally found. With the system I devised, I was no longer risking injury, and my playing would become much more musical!
I’m also glad to say that this injury has never returned- not even once! I now play much faster, and cleaner, than I could before…and I’m only practising a maximum of 2 hours a day!
This time off allowed me to come up with the ‘Full Rock System’ for guitar. This system has since been proven to work with countless students over the years that I’ve been teaching, and it can work for you, too!
Of course, that isn’t the name that I gave it at the time…it was just a bunch of stuff that worked really well. Just by making a few changes, I was able to reduce the inefficient, 8 hour routine, into a super-efficient 2 hour one.
…and if that still sounds like a lot, this same ideas can also be used with routines that are only half an hour long!
The System Works for ALL AREAS of Guitar Playing
This doesn’t just apply to creating practise routines (although that’s where it starts), it works for all aspects of playing the guitar. Once I started applying these ideas to the rest of my playing, I saw the real benefits!
- How to use exercises effectively (not just playing through them)
- Understand the wider musical context (Solos no longer sound like mindless exercises!)
- Stop fingers flying off the fretboard when playing fast (hint: this is not due to bad posture or hand position!)
All this, in as little as half an hour a day. I was now achieving my goals much quicker, and with less effort. I was playing at lightening fast speeds– with no injury, and without having to slave away practising exercises all day!
…but, as a said, this wasn’t all about speed! I could now see the wider musical context- and my solos no longer sound like repetitive exercises. I now understand how to use the whole neck of the guitar, and my rhythm playing and chord knowledge has improved by at least 100 times!
As a bonus, using this system will set you up to learn even more good stuff. Because it’s a ‘complete’ system, it leaves no holes in your playing ability- perfect for getting even more advanced later on!
Following the System
It may sound crazy, but if you can spare just a minimum of half an hour a day for this, it will change your guitar playing forever. Of course, you can practise more than that, but that’s the minimum.
This is the core of what the ‘Full Rock System’ is all about. This is what I use with my one to one students. It works for them, and it will work for you, too! Just check out the testimonials from my students (below).
Watch out for the next email…in it, I’ll be showing you how you can start to use this system, and start seeing real results! If you haven’t yet subscribed to the mailing list- just fill in the form below.
Testimonials and Feedback
“Prior to having lessons with Rob, my 10 year old daughter (Lily) and I had a few months worth of lessons with another tutor. Although the tutor was a good guitarist he taught ‘text book’ style which resulted in me not really learning a great deal.
I decided to try to find a tutor who could actually teach the likes of me- practically tone deaf, no sense of rhythm and little time to practice… By luck I came across Rob’s web site, I exchanged a couple of emails with him and booked my first lesson- I was immediately impressed with Rob, and consequently booked a set of lessons for me and a set for Lily.
Some months down the line and thanks to Rob we are both progressing very well, here’s why:
Not only is Rob a highly accomplished guitarist and musician, he also has a genuine ability to teach people of all ages and proficiency (something I think is quite rare). Rob takes the time to understand a pupil as an individual and from this understanding develops bespoke lesson plans. Lily is well on the way to being ready to take her first Rockschool exam (see certificate, right). Lily thinks the world of Rob, he makes her lessons fun and takes the time to ensure her learning is at a pace that suits her, and involves styles of music she likes and can relate to.
I thoroughly look forward to my lessons with Rob. He makes sure my learning material is based on my favourite style of music, and has helped me get the most out of my practice time. Rob’s enthusiasm is infectious to the point where I am now keen to understand more musical theory, which Rob teaches in such a way that even I can understand…no mean feat!”
– Eddie and Lily Archer, Guitarists
“When I first started as a student at Chainsaw Guitar Tuition my self-taught guitar skills were pretty basic, I could play a few open chords, the power chord and play a few short and easy exerts from my favourite songs, that was pretty much it!
I knew I wanted to learn some things (barre chords) and discuss some technicalities like proper finger positioning, Rob helped me with this but was then easily able to identify many other areas I needed work on to better be able to play whole pieces of music, and help me develop my own style.
With Rob I could develop almost every style of guitar playing, just to name a few, Metal, Rock, Blues, Country, Reggae, Classical, Bass, Rhythm, and Soloing, we even did some Disco!
Rob taught me the musical theory of how chords come from tones with harmonic relation in scales and how different combinations of these tones can give chords their many feels and characters. I can now identify and play plethora of chords. I also improved my ability to read tabs and sheet music.
I learnt better how to self teach with good warm up and practice routines, I can now, with bit of time, play music that would’ve completely stumped me before.
Rob will endeavour help you learn whatever YOU want, he is a cool, nice guy 🎸”
– James C, Guitarist
“I am very very thankful and happy to have you as my teacher.
I also recommended you to my friend who’s planning to take lessons.
I keep practising, and I must say I really enjoy it!”
– Andras Jelinek, Guitarist
“Before taking lessons I was a mess. My practice routine was all over the place and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, but now I am improving at a faster rate than the whole time I tried teaching myself!
The first lesson helped me dramatically helped me fix my playing posture. I wasn’t able to understand how to change chord shapes without hesitating when doing it, so now it’s all an ease for me!
Getting the input from a teacher was the best decision I ever made, I would definitely recommend these lessons!”
– Matt Delano, Guitarist
“I have never been a quick learner and I must admit I’m the loud and impatient one when it comes to focusing on these things. Rob is the complete opposite, which is a good thing! He kept me very calm and relaxed about the mistakes I made while having my lessons but always made sure I was practicing at home.
I would always look forward to going to my lesson in the evening as I knew I would always come out smiling 🙂 there are certain times where part of the lesson has to be serious otherwise you wouldn’t get anywhere but its also good to have fun and laugh!
When I look at a sheet of music it doesn’t look like a completely different language to me anymore!
I would 100% recommend Rob!”
– Sophie White, Bassist