Hendrix’s Unique Approach to Practice

Dick Cavett: “You’re considered one of the best guitar players in the world. Do you have to practice every day the way a violinist does?”

Jimi: “I like to play to myself. Whenever I feel down or depressed, I just go out and play.”

“I can’t practice though. It’s always constantly what do you call it? Like a jam.”

“It’s hard for me to remember any notes because I’m constantly trying to create other things.”

“That’s why I make a lot of mistakes.”

Dick Cavett: “Do you read music?”

Jimi Hendrix: “No, not at all.”

In an interview on the Dick Cavett show in 1969, Jimi briefly spoke about his approach to practicing guitar. After watching the video, I’ve distilled his approach down to the following ideas:

Enjoy The Process

When asked about how he practices, Jimi revealed:

“I like to play to myself. Whenever I feel down or depressed, I just go out and play.”

Jimi Hendrix

For Jimi, guitar practice obviously felt good. Whenever he felt down, he practiced and played guitar and it gave him a lift.

I believe that learning and playing guitar should feel good for us all. Yes, there’s always a challenge, and learning isn’t always easy. But we have to love that challenge and embrace the difficulty.

Learning to enjoy the process is, in my humble opinion, the most important thing.

Find What Works For You

Jimi also said that he couldn’t practice in the traditional sense, saying:

“I can’t practice though. It’s always constantly what do you call it? Like a jam.”

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi didn’t work from a structured practice routine. Instead, his practice sessions revolved around creativity and jamming. Both creativity and jamming are forms of practice, and it’s what felt good and worked for Jimi.

As guitarists, we need to do the same. We need to figure out what feels good for us to keep us wanting to pick the guitar up. The more we pick up the guitar, the more we progress.

Embrace Mistakes

In his practice sessions, Jimi was always striving to create new sounds, which inevitably led to a bunch of mistakes during the process. He shared:

“That’s why I make a lot of mistakes.”

Jimi Hendrix

Instead of being discouraged by mistakes, Jimi embraced them as part of the process. He clearly learned and grew from his mistakes into the legend that he is today.

Mistakes are absolutely inevitable in any endeavor that we undertake. I think we all know this deep down, but we’re still not great at processing them. We need to get good at making mistakes though, We need to dissect them, correct them, learn from them, and grow from them.

Summary

Advice for Aspiring Guitarists, and Myself