You have this exercise your teacher has just given you. You understand what it’s about, the concept is clear in your head, only the body doesn’t want to do it. You hesitate, you skip, you trip, you stumble. Bad vibes all over! You can feel your shoulders tightening, your neurons crowding each other, your heart beat going up because of the stress.
What can you do?
I propose the 10 seconds methods. It goes like this: First, chop the exercise into easier bits. Once the task is size down, if I may say (and I may since it’s my blog, thank you very much), once sized down, go slow, that’ll give your brain the time to compute what’s going on. Finally you’re ready to go into the meat of the method. As you play, you try to notice where the tension points are: is it in your wrists, your shoulders, your forearms? Before you speed up, resolve those tension points. While you do that, keep the dynamics, the flow and the speed at the same levels. Take your time. Ease into the difficulty and accept it instead of forcing your will into it. Then you can add another component of the exercise. Apply the same method. It doesn’t take hours of practice, as a matter of fact, it takes seconds to listen and adjust. Your playing will improve rapidly because you are trying to be in tune with the exercise, to understand it from within, aka what it means TO YOU.
I remember when I had 9 labs at Berklee. It was an insane amount of work. I had to find ways to tackle all of them. The 10 seconds method came in handy. First it gave me the mind set that I could do it. A man with a plan is 10 times more determined than a man without. Second, it allowed me to understand an exercise for what it was: just a task to be performed, I didn’t put any emotions in it. Third, it made some of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried easier to grasp at my level.