Let's face it. Most of us are busy. Really busy. And this lack of available practice time may cause you to
worry about how long getting good at alternate picking will take. Maybe you feel that you don't even have
enough free time to gain a mastery of alternate picking. Or maybe you even feel that you don't "have what it
takes" to master it! If that's the case, then I can say confidently that you're not alone…
When I was fairly new to alternate picking I watched an instructional video by Paul Gilbert. I must admit, I
was blown away by it. I couldn't believe how fast he could pick! I also felt a little inadequate because he
looked pretty young on the video. And I couldn't believe how good he was compared to me. (It was a bit
depressing I gotta admit).
So after I watched the video a few times I got to work. I practiced my alternate picking technique like a
man-possessed! And a few months of this sort of practice definitely helped me to improve my picking a lot. But
I was still frustrated. I was still not even close to Paul Gilbert's level of skill. And I asked myself
"How freaking long is this going to take me to master?"
Those weren't my exact words (I can't remember them…it was a long time ago!). But I definitely remember
wondering how long it would take me to get good. And I also remember doubting that I would ever develop a
high-level of picking ability.
Perhaps you can relate?
Maybe you have been working on your alternate picking technique for a while, and you're starting to get some
self-doubt creeping in. Perhaps you feel the same way that I did? Maybe a feeling that you'll never master
If you're can relate to this then what I'm about to tell you will help.
How Long It Will Take!
It's really weird, but the day I stopped caring how long it would take was the day I truly started to make
real progress. I basically develop the following attitude…
It will take as long as it
This attitude to learning alternate picking is a great one. It's helped me a lot over the years. And I feel
that it can help you in the following ways…
- You'll develop more patience. Rather than skipping from one exercise to the next,
you'll take your time to master each exercise before moving onto the next.
- You'll focus on the basics. A lot of guitar players are searching for that "magic"
alternate picking exercise" that will transform their picking. What they often don't realize is that ALL
exercises will help your alternate picking a LOT…if you practice them correctly.
- You'll develop more persistence. I think we've all encountered periods when our
alternate picking ability didn't seem to get much better. For Example: Maybe you've reached a speed limit
on an exercise that you can't seem to bust through? By remaining patient you'll develop the persistence
needed to overcome these plateau periods.
That's all for now. Grab your guitar and get to work. And remember…it will take as
long as it takes!
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