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Guitar practice room: The factory and the lab

guitar practice room

In my recent article I have stressed out the importance of revision. I suggested that it is vital to regularly review what you have learned because it is the only way how you can build a strong musical knowledge.

I have also pointed out, that many aspiring guitarists make the mistake of spending way too much time learning new stuff, without ever coming back to the old material.

In my view, this cost them progress and long-term satisfaction with their own playing.

The idea of reviewing the old stuff goes hand in hand with the concept that Steve Krenz introduced me to.

In our interview Steve talked about the idea of two functions of practice room: the lab and the factory.

Steve got this idea from funky-fingerstyle guitar player Adam Rafferty, who took it from this Seth Godin’s article and applied it to guitar practice.

So, what is the lab and what is the factory?

Guitar practice room: The factory

The factory is the time you spend with what we call “maintenance practice”. It is part of your guitar practice where you develop your technique, speed, orientation, ear, rhythm etc. It is also the time when you go over old material and your repertoire to make sure you can play it smoothly anytime and anywhere.

Factory is very important because that’s where you are building foundations for further improvement. Having all the skills and knowledge tied together in one organic piece is what separates great players from average.

Guitar practice room: The lab

The lab is your opportunity to experiment and improvise. It is the creative time to compose new song ideas, come up with new licks or apply what you already know into different context. It is the time when things don’t have to sound perfect but the goal is to come up with something new and fresh that you can later practice until perfection.

In the lab you want to embrace failure because that’s the cost of innovation. Lots of things won’t work, but you keep inventing until you find something that works. Your playing isn’t very pretty in the lab. You are pushing your own boundaries and limitations. You know that in order to come up with something new, you have to throw away a lot of stuff into trash. That’s how you go from mediocre idea to the great one.

The importance of the lab and the factory in your daily guitar practice

I believe that it is very important to have both, the lab and the factory incorporated into your daily guitar practice routine. The right balance between learning new stuff, revisiting old materials and improvisation is the key to successful career as a musician.

The factory is important because you need to keep your hands and mind ready to tackle musical challenges ahead of you. By making sure you have good technique and strong foundations, you can progress faster and with more ease.

The lab is important because your imagination and creativity are growing only when you use them. Some people believe that creativity is inborn but I don’t think it’s true. Creativity is a muscle that grows when it is used and atrophy when it is not. The more you use it, the more it grows.

Lab also serves as a opportunity to have some fun while practicing. It is necessary to be playful and joyful when throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

When planning your next practice session, make sure you schedule some time for maintenance exercises, some time for revision of old materials and also some creative time. Well developed guitar practice schedule is a must for any serious musician.

Now I am curious, how much time do you spend in the lab and how much in the factory? What is the right balance for you? Please let me know in the comments.

Image courtesy: micsalac

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2 Responses to Guitar practice room: The factory and the lab

  1. Greg December 20, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    I thought this was a really insightful post. I never thought about having two environments like that. I can see how this with focus and time could produce results far beyond a session full of chaotic jumping around.
    I just recently started working on a song. I think this approach will help me a lot.

  2. Lukas Kyska December 20, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    I am really glad it helps. Thank you for taking time to read the article, Greg.

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