Are you passionate about guitar? Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as passionate about creating music, you probably have deep feelings attached to the experience. After all, it is the emotional aspect of music that inspires and motivates us to listen and play – so what role could detachment possibly play in musicianship?

Ironically, detachment may be the musician’s most valuable tool for achieving artistic success. This does not mean that someone who achieves mastery in detachment will produce dispassionate performances. In fact, the opposite is likely to occur, as detachment invites a level of focus that allows deep emotions to emerge in a musical performance.

How Will It Help?

Learning guitar is challenging, but it shouldn’t be chronically frustrating. If you experience impatience or anxiety about your progress, you may be wasting valuable time and energy on judgment of yourself and your abilities, as opposed to engaging in detached analysis and improvement of the performance. It’s no fun to feel like less of a musician (or even more miserably, less of a person!) because of imperfections in your playing!

Detachment will help you to alleviate disruptive feelings and learn to direct your practice time and energy productively. When you learn to stay focused and disassociated from the ego during practice, you will find that you are only a small step away from accomplishing the same onstage. In other words, detachment can not only help you to learn more efficiently, it can also help you to diminish or eliminate performance anxiety!

How Do You Do It?

The first, and perhaps most important, place to implement detachment is in the practice room, where you have a quiet and private place to develop the ability to witness, critique and correct your work without succumbing to frequent and debilitating emotional responses.

Begin with intention. Before you pick up your guitar, set a goal to listen deeply throughout your practice session and to maintain objectivity in uncovering and improving problem areas. Be relentless in your commitment to this musical goal, which does not allow time for indulging in self judgment and unproductive mental distractions. Remember, every time you respond emotionally to your practice, you have gone off task.

When you first begin the process of practicing with detachment, you may have to do some self-coaching: “Keep moving!” “No criticizing allowed!” “Keep your eye on the ball!” No matter how much coaching is required to keep moving toward your goal, just give it to yourself. You will succeed!

Good Things to Remember

You are not your playing. No one is born a great player and each musician has a unique timetable. It is important to honor yours!

Your playing will never be without “mistakes” – but you may reach a level where those mistakes no longer matter to you or your audience and they may even go unnoticed. The truth is, the less they matter to you, the less they will matter to your audience – and you have control over how much they matter to you!

A sense of humor may be your best ally. Of course, it’s important to continually strive for exceptional technique, tone, melodic content, rhythm and more – but don’t forget to have a good time!

For optimum practice results, follow this guide!


    • says

      To practice with detachment is to have a pure experience, rather than one which is constantly interrupted by a perception of and response to the ego-self. That experience is facilitated by releasing attachment to identity and resisting any tendency toward self-judgment. In short, if you follow the suggestions in this post, you will be practicing with detachment!

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