Greets friends! I am back in the oven known as August in New York after a very nice 14 days on the west coast.
An interesting thing happened at a guitar class/lecture/performance and I’d like to share it with you. My good friend Frank teaches an evening guitar class at a college in the Bay Area, and I got to do a Q&A and playing session for one of his classes.
I find it hard to speak and perform in the same setting. It’s like I don’t know whether I am in the left brain or right brain zone. When I finally got down to performing that night, I had what I consider to be an unacceptable memory slip on a tune that I have played a million times – “Billie Jean”. Partially because of the mental zone, but also due to preparation.
Recently I upgraded the chorus to fit the phrasing of the original song better, and the newer different fingering was new enough that it still required conscious control. I had yet to get the new fingering into the subconscious so that the fingers just “go there”.
I don’t think anyone else except Frank knew. My mind went blank for a split second for the fingering of the chorus of the song due to the newness of the fingering. I played the melody with chord forms under it and got right back on…but I thought to myself “I gotta drive this down even deeper into my subconscious – first thing tomorrow!”
I wasn’t angry, did not beat myself up, and the performance was just fine from the audiences point of view. However, this flaw was to be addressed in my next practice sessions.
(There’s nothing like performing to show you what you need to practice 🙂
I decided to use some of the techniques I’ve learned from success coach Brian Tracy to drive this tune deep to the level of never ever botching it ever again. These motivational techniques are nice to “hear” but I decided to use them and see if they worked any differently from standard “practicing”.
Here’s a recent video of Billie Jean live where I am in performance mode! No problems here….just a lot of heat that day:
1) Make it the #1 Priority
Sounds simple, but I made this the #1 priority in my life for a few days. It’s one of my most requested tunes, so it deserves this attention. How often do we know we need to make something a priority and then allow small things to get in the way? This was (and is still) priority #1 until it is bulletproof.
2) Use Positive Self Talk
I carefully guarded my speech and said over and over “I play Billie Jean perfectly. I nail it to the wall. My version of Billie Jean is flawless.”
I gave energy to the positive vision, not the negative. You dig?
I went to sleep visualizing the right left hand fingering. This was hard!!! Every time I woke up out of sleep, I tossed and turned and only visualized the right fingering! I flooded my mind with the right visual.
4) Practice in 15 Minute Time Chunks
Brian Tracy says somewhere that our minds pick up the most at the beginning and end of practice sessions. I practiced for a few days, and for each 15 minute chunk of practice I played the chorus to Billie Jean. 15 minute chunks do more for your mind than an hour straight he says.
That’s it. Practice makes perfect…now get to work!!!! As soon as I hit the post button it’s practice time.