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Become a real guitar hero

Rock guitarist on stage

Guitar Hero and Rock Band are popular games whatever the console: from Wii to PS3, DS to Xbox 360. With only a few buttons to press it makes the Aerosmith solos appear easy to play, but many of us who actually play guitar can only dream of playing as fast as Joe Satriani, as smooth as Carlos Santana or to finger tap like Eddie Van Halen. Is there an easy way to become the next real guitar hero?

If you've ever had music lessons, you have probably heard your teacher saying "Practise it slowly until you get it right, and then speed up!"

Unfortunately that's a bold statement and only part of the reason why you should play slowly. Not everyone's teacher tells them about muscle memory and economical playing. When you play a passage over and over you are not just memorising a sequence of notes, but your fingers 'remember' how you played it and they will use these memories next time you go to play the same passage. So if you're one of the people who only plays half- heartedly when playing slowly (be honest, most of us do) and without the proper technique then you'll never play it properly at full speed. Muscle memory can be used to your advantage by practicing a riff or passage you find difficult slowly and precisely so that when you play it faster you play each note the way it's meant to be.

We mentioned using the proper technique when programming a riff into our muscle memory, but make sure that you take economical playing into account too. It simply means doing enough to get the job done, but nothing more! When anyone starts playing guitar it's difficult to press down hard enough for the notes to sound, but be careful as you progress, as you can press down too hard too. If you use too much force, you won't be able to move your fretting fingers fast enough to play the solos you're dreaming about. Try these tips out for yourself and see how playing lighter and smarter can make your solos sound more ferocious.

This doesn't just apply to guitar playing. Economical muscle movement can be applied to lots of different activities, both musical and non-musical, like typing at a computer. If you're a one-finger-jabber who presses the keys like a sledgehammer, you'll never learn to type quickly. Be economic and use more fingers, and only use enough force that's needed to press the key. You'll soon see yourself speed typing.