Hardest Thing About Guitar (AND HOW TO FIX IT!)

One of the top sources of frustration that we deal with as guitar players is keeping (maintaining) perfect lock-step with both ourselves "first" as well as, with other musicians we jam with. Luckily, there's a workout you can do to fix this once and for all. I call it the, "3 Minute Miracle."

Do you think that you lack the guitar skills to play smoothly? The irony is, a lot of times what we "think" is rooted in our lack of playing skill, is actually caused by a lack of ability for us to remained focused for a long enough period of time when playing a part.

Playing focus is like a muscle, you need to strengthen it if you ever expect for it to work well.

In this video, I’m going to show you how you can work on a "stamina building exercise" for playing guitar parts that will zero in on the real cause of your problems - your ability to remain more focused.


The, "3 Minute Miracle,"  is a simple endurance building exercise that's structured around using a count-down timer and a metronome. You begin with training yourself to remain focused and smooth playing for just 30 seconds. Over time, you stretch that out to 3 minuets, (the average length of a pop song).

The "3 Minute Miracle," guitar exercise is a simple playing focus workout that's based entirely around applying a timed stamina drill. The concept and approach is easy, which means that any guitarist can start doing it right away to improve their playing focus.

Once I show you how to start improving your stamina, I’m also going to show you how to expand on the exercise so that you can make sure your playing endurance grows to the level of being able to eventually play through an entire song - perfectly and effortlessly.

This lesson examines what is probably the hardest thing a guitarist has to do when they begin working with other musicians. And, that is, to be able to keep up with the band (or any other musician who jams with you).

Most guitar players tend to start off their playing experience within a vacuum where they’re learning a series of ideas in the comfort of their own home. This is, (of course) a relaxing experience for anyone studying an instrument. And, there's certainly nothing wrong with it.

Playing for fun and going at your own pace and learning at your own speed is excellent. If there’re any problems, (if you have any frustrations), then you go a little slower, or you just stop.

Playing at your own pace means taking a break when you're flustered. You can come back later on and try again when you feel like it.

But, when you start working with other musicians - you can’t stop, or slow down, or just walk away and come back later. You need to be able to keep playing and keep up with the band.

A large majority of guitar players are people who do - just play for fun. And, you might be thinking – hey… “I just play for fun, I have no intention of ever joining a band.”

Well, that’s fine. But, what you also need to realize is that – what you get from playing in a group of musicians is a skill that’s related to musicianship and performance. It’s a skill that’s often referred to as “Performance Stamina;” in sports they will often call this idea “Endurance.”

And, building endurance as a musician - also means building focus.

Focus and stamina will do a lot for you as a guitarist and they are skills that are absolutely phenomenal, because when you learn the skill of performing guitar parts for extended periods.

These skills will teach you how to become more focused on what you’re doing, how to maintain better periods of sustained rhythmic ability, and most importantly, how to keep yourself relaxed and continuously performing a musical idea smoothly for the entire length of a song, (which can often be around 3 - 4 min.). 

To most guitar players, 3 or 4 min. probably doesn’t sound like a very long time. In fact, most guitar players would probably believe that to play a guitar part for about 3 min. would be more or less a piece of cake.

And, I’m sure that most would also think that they could play a guitar part for that long of a period of time without any problems at all... Well, the reality is, (from my experience of working with hundreds of guitar students), is that this is really not the case at all.

Most guitar students at the Intermediate level, (and certainly at a more Introductory level), generally have a very difficult time maintaining a guitar part in good rhythm, (played at a really solid technical level of clarity for all the riffs, licks and chord changes for around 3 min.).

In fact, students usually crash and burn somewhere between 40 seconds to maybe just over one minute. And, in case you’re wondering, Yes, I have actually tested this with many guitar students.

So now comes the part where I offer you a method of practice that will really help you improve your level of performance stamina. Plus, it will have a lot of additional benefits as well.

Mainly, it will help you get better with your ability to have longer endurance with every guitar part that you end up playing. All in all, what our goal will be, is to get you going on playing through an entire piece of music.

But, we’re going to do this in small sections and we’re going to maintain constant testing for your level of stamina with each part by using a stopwatch along with keeping a metronome on as well.

Step 1). Here’s the first thing that we’re going to do. We’re going to learn a simple guitar part and then, we’ll turn on a stop-watch and we’ll run it with a count-down timer of 40 sec.

The first ten seconds will be for getting prepared and ready to play. Then, the remaining 30 seconds will be for playing the part through over and over.

Our goal is to play perfectly in time, without any flubbed notes, or missed notes, no failed attacks on the rhythm of the beat, and without any loss of the timing. Here we go… 

Learn this guitar melody: 
Play it for 30 sec. Play it perfectly (No Mistakes)

Step 2). Alright, the second thing that we’re going to do is take a basic open position chord progression and we’re going to do the exact same thing that we had done with that simple two string riff that we just played a moment ago.

We’ll set up our stop-watch count-down timer at 40 sec. The first ten seconds will be for getting prepared and ready to play. Then, the remaining 30 seconds will be for playing the part through perfectly over and over.

Learn this guitar chord progression: 
Play it for 30 sec. Play it perfectly (No Mistakes)

 (click on the above image to enlarge full screen)

Step 3). Next, you'll want to work continuously to expand on the guitar parts that you’re playing, (by adding more chords, and /or more involved melodic ideas). Plus, you'll also want to work at expanding on the length of time that you enter into the stop-watch.

As you might have already guessed, the more involved that your guitar part is, (and the longer the length of time that’s set on the stop-watch), the more difficult that it will be to be able to perform your guitar ideas perfectly through the time-frame.

In the long run, what your goal will be is to play a guitar part for 3 min. with no mistakes (that’s the 3 min. Miracle). At that point, move on to an entire song playing along to it - as perfectly as possible.

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide upon a song that you will start off with as your "first official tune." Because I've been teaching this for years, I'm going to offer you a suggestion.

My suggestion is to try out the "3 Minute Miracle," learning method with the song "Cloud Number 9" (The Original - Album Version) - by Bryan Adams.

"Cloud Number 9" is a relatively simple piece of music that is very guitar oriented - with only a small collection of chords.

Learn the piece in sections, (intro., verse, chorus), and for each section, use smaller time frames of 30 - 60 sec. to work on each song part. Once each section feels comfortable, begin joining together the parts stretching out the time frame.

The total length of the song is [03:45]. If you study each part in segments, (using a count-down timer), it won't take you very long to develop the entire piece up to a level where you can play it smoothly without stopping.

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