Howdy fellow gunslingers! Today we're breaking down developing guitar technique starting from zero. It revolves around repetition and attention. Master this and you'll be able to clean your six shooter in the dark.
Below I've summarized "How to Learn Skills Faster" by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman. It discusses the science, practice, and what to focus on during skill learning at each stage to maximize learning speed and depth of physical skills. Dr. Huberman references several studies about learning fine motor skills in a musical context.
Start: Designate a block of time (5-10 minutes) in your practice session to perform the technique in isolation. Your goal is perform the max number of repetitions possible in the practice session's timeframe. Optional (but recommended): use a metronome to set the cadence of your repetitions.
Stage 1: The first stage of developing a new motor skill. In these beginning sessions focus on generating the motor movements and direct your attention to the errors. Making mistakes in this stage is OK.
Stage 2: You are familiar with the general motion of the movement and your performance starts improving from the work done in previous practice sessions.
End: After the practice session, take a 5-10 minute break. Rest and sit with your eyes closed. Meditate. This consolidates the motor memory.
Neat trick, right?
Elizabeth Cotten was self taught, picking up a $3.75 Sears & Roebuck guitar which she played left-handed, upside down. Cotten would play alternating bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb — a style now known as "Cotten picking."
After putting down the guitar for 25 years, she picked up the instrument again and re-learned to play it from scratch. What a badass.