Question: Hello Tom Hess and thanks for this opportunity :) What is the key to fluent second nature guitar playing? Like good jazz players can stand and talk to someone while they’re playing some amazing guitar riffs and soloing over no obvious keys, they just know exactly, or rather their hands have a mind of their own. Now I am a very ambitious guitar player and I have played for 15 years by myself and have practiced very much and according to many guitar teachers practiced the right things and have become a very good guitar player. So.. How is the best way for my hand to gain a mind of its own as I like to call it :)

Tom Hess's Answer: To develop such ability you need to develop very advanced improvising skills. In order to reach this goal (improvising skills to a highly advanced level), there are a variety of skills that need to be mastered separately, AND then integrated together, such as: guitar technique, knowledge of music theory (chords, scales, arpeggios etc…), ear training, knowledge of the fretboard etc…

You should also practice applying all of these skills in various improvising contexts. If you are an advanced player now, but still struggle with feeling “free” while improvising, then most likely, you need more training in this particular area (application and integration of your existing skills), rather on acquiring brand new skills. Check out this how to practice guitar video about integration and application of musical skills and how they lead to mastery.

In particular, you need to learn to “hear” all of the music theory concepts that you know. This will allow you to instantly generate soloing ideas on the spot and learn how to find them on the guitar.

Again, assuming you’re an advanced player already, learning ‘new skills’ may not be what you need to achieve this specific goal. Instead you need to “train” with existing skills…. apply and integrate.


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