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What is the Magic Word for Learning Guitar?

I'm Mike Ellis, owner of Mike Ellis Music Instruction. At one time during my career, I had 100 students per week. I learned so much from my students. One of the most important things I gleaned from teaching all these students is the Magic Word for Guitar. Actually it works for all musical instruments. The Magic Word is YET.

I tell all of my students, "Don't ever say that you can't play something on the guitar without adding the Magic Word. You can say I can't play it, YET. You can play anything that your favorite artists can play, just not yet. Therefore, the only question is, 'WHEN will you be able to play that special something?' The answer to that question is that it depends solely on one thing. That one thing is how many times you have played it, correctly."

There are two ways to play it correctly. The first way is to get the correct sequence "into your hands." This means teaching your subconscious the order of the notes and/or chords. Which comes first, second, and so forth? This can be done without using proper timing or tempo because you are training the subconscious. I teach students that the subconscious controls the things you don't consciously think about, like breathing, heartbeat, blinking, and so many of the things you do every day without consciously thinking about them. For example, when you ride a bicycle do you conciously think "Lean left, lean right, lean left, lean right" like you did when you first learned how to ride? Of couse you don't. You trained your subconscious to take over for you. It's the same with throwing a ball. You couldn't hit your target at first. And now when you throw it, it's just automatic. Well, it isn't really automatic. You just trained your subconscious.

The subconscious is also where dreams are created. These happen during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and are often only a few seconds long. A dream that feels like it lasted all night really only lasted a very short time. So the subconscuious doesn't know how long or short something lasts. It does, however, know the order of things. Because of this , you can work on a piece with no hurry and no beat.The subconscious is trained by repetition. You have heard, "If you learn it wrong, you will have to start over and learn it again properly." That's true, because if you repeated it incorrectly several times, you programmed your subconscious to do it incorrectly. Therefore, forget beat and timing at first and just play the sequence of notes at any speed, with any necesary pauses for you to get to the right note, but don't let a mistake happen. No matter how slowly you have to go, don't let a mistake occur.

When you are absolutely certain of the sequence of the piece, you can then start trying to play it with the proper rhythm and timing, but remember to go slowly at first. There are so many tools like computer programs and apps that can slow a piece of music for you, without changing the pitch. This means that as it gets slower, it doesn't get deeper in sound and you will not have to change your tuning to go slower. With these tools, you can gradually speed up the piece as you play along with it. Pretty soon, you will be playing it perfectly. If you are reading notes on the staff lines, this method still works best.

And now, for the second way to play something correctly... INTRODUCING... Mike's 3-IN-A-ROW method! That's right, if you an play a section of a piece exactly right three times IN A ROW from memory, you are then ready to go to the next section. When you can play the second section three times in a row, you are then ready to try the both sections one after the other exactly right three times IN A ROW. If you stumble or make any mistake at all, you start counting your three times from the beginning again. I tell my students that I never practiced. I played. It's fun to go outside and play. I stayed inside and played. It didn't sound very good at first, but after I had trained my subconscious on a piece, it sounded just like the recording from the original artist. So I played and worked. I worked each section then put them together and it sounded great.

If you have any questions or would like to contact me, you can reach me at 469-855-6865 to talk with me or go to my Bubblelife page at

Mike Ellis Music Instruction
9450 Skillman, #101
Dallas, TX 75243

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