Guitar Practice: Get Past Sticking Points, Grease the Groove

This effective guitar tip is called Grease the Groove (GTG). I learned GTG from strength and fitness guru, Pavel Tsatsouline. It’s a strength-building exercise technique that I’ve applied successfully to my physical fitness workouts. Grease the Groove is designed to get you past your “sticking points.”

The GTG method for getting past sticking points involves frequent, but brief repetitions. I’ve adapted Grease the Groove into my guitar practice, and I’m seeing great results. Here’s my Grease the Groove Guitar Tip.

Get Ready to Grease the Groove

Get out your guitar and your pad, paper or blank chord grids. Maybe you’ll want to get out your MP3 recorder. Here’s how I get ready to Grease the Guitar Playing Groove:

    • I play through a piece of music that I’m working on and isolate any sticking points. I usually have three to five sets of chord changes or licks, that I’m not quite nailing.
    • I notate these as GTG exercises on a sheet of paper, or on chord grids.
  • I set the Grease the Groove exercise sheet next to my guitar, which I have out and ready to play at a moment’s notice.

Now I’m set up to grease the groove. Here are a couple of ways I GTG my guitar practice.

I’m often working at my home office. I’m in and out to make bathroom trips, get coffee, etc. My guitar and GTG exercise sheet are handy, in my office. The GTG rule is this. Every time I walk into the office, I pick up the guitar and run through each of the GTG exercises 10 to 20 times.

The number of repetitions depends on how many exercises I have on the sheet. If I have my maximum of five exercises I’ll maybe do a 5×10 Grease the Groove “set.” Then, I put down the guitar, and get on with what I’m doing. I’d suggest shooting for a one- to two-minute session. No more than two minutes.

Another way I can ensure repetitions, is with the timer method. When I work in my office, I set a countdown timer for 45 minutes. When the timer goes off, I take a break from my desk. As part of the break, I pick up the guitar and the GTG exercise sheet and run through the repetitions. You could also set up GTG intervals when watching television — Grease the Groove during commercials.

Once I get an exercise nailed, I cross it off the GTG sheet.

That’s all there is to it. Combine this Grease the Groove guitar-practice method with your regular practice sessions. See if it doesn’t get you past your sticking spots in record time.

That’s it for now. Pick up your guitar, and make some music.

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