OK, I hope everybody is enjoying their summer so far! This month I'm gonna give you a break from the Shredding Blues Licks and give some tips on getting the most out of your practicing. I'll also share some insights into running your own instrumental
OK, we all know the answer - as much as you can! Well, that's pretty straightforward. Now what if you have a day job, kids, school... now things get complicated! When
I was in high school I would practice all my scales and warm up before I went to
school. I used to get a good 45 minutes in every morning - not a long time but at the end of the week it added up to almost four full hours that I wouldn't have gotten if I was watching cartoons or combing my hair. Plus, I played in jazz band and had a guitar class, so I never really felt like I was missing out on parts of my playing.
After school came my rock band rehearsals - usually three days a week in high school - man that was the life! Now of course, the older you get, the more responsabilities you have, like house payments, kids and stuff you never thought about when you were younger. So nowadays most of my playing comes in 45 minute to one-and-a-half hour sessions. You kinda just gotta take it when you can get it. I always carry one of
my electrics with me in the car. You can get lucky and squeeze a few fifteen minute slots here and there throughout the week. It may not seem like much but if you actually pick one idea and focus on it for the 15 minute duration you'll be surprised how much you will actually improve. Not a lot of wasted time! Plus, a lot of gigs you won't get a sound check and it's hurry and load gear on and off of stage so you don't have the benefit of sitting back stage and warming up for an hour. So the faster you can warm up the better,mentally you'll be able get into the music without feeling all stiff and nervous.
The final thing with practicing I believe is to work on your own material as much as possible. Your own talent and writing is what will get you a music career, not playing the latest trendy song or hottest lick at the local Guitar Center.
I've been very lucky to have some wonderfully talented musicians in my band. One of my bass players, Uriah Duffy (when he's not on tour with Whitesnake), is one of the most musical people I've ever met. Rock, blues, funk, metal - the man can do it all. Now for me, when we first started playing shows and recording, I didn't have to worry about the bass parts at all, actually it made me work so much harder because this guy could blow me away at any moment. We always do a little duel at the end of one of the songs and the crowd loves it when we play live. So we are always trying to come up with different licks to throw at each other when we play.
I also want to mention that you have to have fun. So relax when you're playing, crack jokes and get people in the crowd invovled in the show. Believe me, people love to be included in the show and in return they'll tell their friends and they will continue to make it out for your shows.
Now the last couple of things can make or break you. Say only one person makes it out to your show. You owe it to them to put on the best show possible. Be polite and cool to everybody. Even if somebody is the biggest jerk - try to be the better person. If you make some money at the gigs, pay your musicians well. Most musicians starve, so a little bonus once in a while will be remebered and proballby returned tenfold. Try
to surround yourself with the best talent possible - it'll only make you better.
OK, I hope some of this column helps you out, and in the next issue I will throw some sick ass blues shredder licks your way. Feel free to email me anytime. See ya!