Steve Vai revealed that he regularly practiced without a guitar, and explained how others could follow his lead.
He said his method helped strengthen the connection between his mind and his hands, the result being his musicianship improved.
In one of a series of coronavirus lockdown videos that he recently started, Vai admitted his approach was “a little odd,” but explained, “If I’m laying in bed and I’m kind of imagining the guitar neck in my mind, and I’m hearing something … those notes that I just played, I could see my fingers doing that in my mind and I can hear it if I’m laying there at night.”
He accepted that others might not be able to do that, so he advised “you got to start easy.” “When you’re lying in bed, close your eyes, relax your body and visualize, actually visualize yourself playing,” Vai explained. “Only ‘play’ what you’re capable of hearing with your own ear with the fingers that are playing in your mind. If you can connect in your mind, seeing yourself play those notes and hearing the notes that are correct to come out, this is incredible practice because you’re connecting with your inner ear and you’re strengthening it.”
Vai said the result was no different than “picking up the guitar and actually playing.” “It takes discipline – you got to keep pulling your mind back to that visual, and then you can do all sorts of crazy things with yourself in your mind,” he noted. “You could see yourself doing things that you wouldn’t dream of doing live. … That’s the laboratory of your own creative expression and it’s your best friend.”
Benefits, he added, could reach beyond one’s own playing and influence others. “It’s incredibly rewarding, and it’s very rewarding for those who resonate with it that are around you, so try that,” he said. “Be the best version of yourself, not the second rate version of someone else.”
You can watch the video below.