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Take Your Practice From Minor to Major

Coffee and Capos: Avoiding The Woodshed Practice Blues


By Jordan Friday, Junior Video Editor at ArtistWorks


If you’re anything like me, practicing your instrument is one of the most calm and enjoyable activities in a your life life, and more often than not: it’s all you think about!

As I progressed in my musical journey, new material got more and more advanced, and there were times where I believed that I wasn’t up to the task of playing what was in front of me.

I know how common these thoughts are for fellow musicians, and though this might be your initial thought too- don’t let it stop your playing! What we perceive as impossible difficulty is often just a case of the woodshed blues.*

*Woodshed Blues refers to when a musician goes their room (or sometimes the woodshed) to practice for hours and hours on end, just to master one technique or piece of a song.

One of the best ways to combat the unintentional “blues” of practicing is to create breaks in your practice routine; I call each of these breaks: a “capo”. A capo can change the way you feel about practicing. For me, a coffee break always helps me relax, unwind, and have a mental lift that can get me through the rest of my musical and technological endeavors.

As an ArtistWorks video editor, I spend many hours of the day pouring over footage, cutting and splicing scenes, and squinting into a computer monitor. From that description, it doesn’t sound like any fun at all, but it’s my passion! And sometimes, when it starts to feel less like a passion I have and more like work, I stop, take a sip of espresso, recenter, and then continue with my work.

It is extremely important to have a similar approach to practicing, especially when you are first starting out. A capo on a guitar doesn’t change the finger positions you play. Instead, it changes the way the same chords you play without a capo sound, in this case, raising or lowering the key. The chords are the same, but the music is different. The same thing can be said about practicing.

When musical disappointment comes, take a break for a while! Go outside, talk with a friend, have a sip of coffee (or tea). It will help you come back to whatever you are working on relaxed and mentally ready to begin anew. New musicians can sometimes feel like 30 minutes that they’ve been tasked to practice is an eternity. Instead, step outside for a moment, take a deep breath, then get ready to play that piece better than you did before!

In a very similar way, advanced players should also remember that practicing scales or playing rudimentary pieces can still keep your mind and talent nimble. In Darol Anger’s Fiddle School, Darol addresses advanced players directly, saying:

“There's always things that we can review. And there’s always ideas that you might have missed in your training. Or different ways to think about very basic ideas about playing. So you might just wanna take a quick look through all the lessons that are happening in the first part, and you might find yourself just picking up a few little things.”


- Introduction To Basic Fiddle

Just because you’re at an advanced level, doesn’t mean you should to never take a break, never stop playing, and reject your mental health. You deserve a break too!

By mentally capo-ing, taking a breather or playing something simple for a change, you’ll find that you can approach your playing in a new light. Maybe you’ll think about the same piece you’ve played for the last 3 hours as a completely different song, and be able to play it the best you’ve ever played it. This could all be attributed to simply taking a capo moment.

When you practice, you’re working towards becoming a better musician, but it doesn’t come all at once, whatever your skill level might be. It takes time, patience, diligence, and most of all, a love for music! Remember, learning to play and instrument takes work, but with ArtistWorks Video Exchange technology and talented instructors, you’ll be fully equipped to reach your musical goals.

Always remember, when you feel the urge to give up, capo your outlook and take it from the top!




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