Getting in the "zone"

When I first started playing over ten years ago, I vividly remember one jam at our music club that stuck out in my mind. We all sat in a circle and played a song as the turn came around to us. I was sitting next to a guy that clearly had been playing for some time and I was fascinated as I watched him play and sing his song. His eyes were closed, he was in some state of ecstasy / delight as he played and it mesmerized me.

At that stage, I had to severely concentrate to be able to lead a song and the idea of closing my eyes was completely foreign.

Recently, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve been what I call “in the zone”. Really just lost in the song, all sense of time disappears and it’s a blissful feeling. It seems to be something that one can’t deliberately turn on / off.

I discussed it in detail with a friend who’s been playing for many years and he was able to relate immediately. He said it used to happen to him but hasn’t in a while. When I questioned him as to why, he said he no longer plays from memory and has to pay attention to his song sheets on his iPad to play (he does a regular coffee shop gig).

That made me think about anything that’s changed that might be contributing to me being able to get in the zone. Besides the fact that I play all my songs completely from memory, I know recently I’ve started playing a lot more without looking at the fretboard, at least for a number of my songs.

It’s been a neat experience discovering this ‘zone’ and it comes and goes as if on a whim. It’s not something I can turn on or off deliberately.

For any beginners reading this, I’ve posted it so you know there are various nuances that come the longer you play, so stick at it as it’s all fun fun fun.


The zone is a good feeling. Complete immersion in what you’re doing, almost meditative. It can happen for other activities too, not just guitar. I used to get it when I coded.

I’ve slipped into the zone a couple of times when playing songs I know by myself. Before I know it an hour has gone by. It’s great. To be able to relax enough to do that in front of others confidently is next level stuff.


And for bonus points, who can say his name “Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi” who wrote all about ‘the zone’, just called it ‘being in flow’


Hi Tony,

I’m still very new to the guitar but I can relate to the feelings you are experiencing from my earlier days when I sang in band.

Sometimes you just merge with the music and your unconscious competence kicks in and you just fly. I found that if any random thoughts entered my brain the beautiful moment would be lost again.

Your fingers are well trained for the song so let them do it all without you having to think about it. Sounds perfect to me. I look forward to the day when I can do similar on a guitar.



I don’t have one of those. :smile:

I’m sure it’s in there somewhere, keep looking!!:joy:

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Never with guitar.
A couple of times when I played on the college volleyball team, also when skiing off-piste powder on my own :smiley:


A minute so now and then, but more and more often when I’m doing blues or rock licks and stuff with a backing track it happens …with other things almost daily…sometimes fun sometimes a little less if you forget to eat… but somehow I also think we’re talking about something else(
there are several variants, but you are of course aware of that)…you have to stay super aware of your surroundings with skiing or else you’ll be kissing a tree…with athletes I always hear them talk about a Flow…I myself know that from the past, but that feels different from really being gone and trotting on in your thoughts…well I’ll stop before the whole screen is full here :see_no_evil: :speak_no_evil:

And during my first search for the real difference between zone and flow, I already see that it says something different … but in other words, the idea remains the same :grimacing:

Edit: I see this is an old topic but…

if you do that here in the Netherlands, I understand that you can easily get into a “zone”, :laughing:especially if you are very sensitive to it… :blush:

Edit again:

Oooo ,kind of the same with the coffee shop :see_no_evil:


Haha, when I was trying to recall instances I was ‘in the zone’ I had to consciously exclude all the times I was ‘zonked’ :roll_eyes:
There is a large shared area in that Venn-diagram though :rofl:


Playing zonked is lots of fun

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Hope ill get there sometime… but i can really see that «remembering» lyrics is an issue to get into that state…


An easy song to use as your first memorized song is REM’s The one I love. It’s one simple verse that repeats 3 times which 1 different line the 3rd time. It could give you confidence that you can memorize songs.

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Thanks a lot for the tip Tony :grin: will try it out one more time. Dont really connect with the song for some reason.
What i do experience is that if i force myself to play the songs without the lyrics in front of me i learn them a lot quicker. But i like to have a sheet in front of me just for «security» often i dont read them, but if i dont have them its very easy too fall out of it… and when i fall out i never find mybway back again without the sheet :rofl: it is a bit strange this. I know most of «my songs» by heart. But as soon as i play them its not so much by heart anymore…


Perhaps just start with a couple of songs that you only play from memory. It’s such an advantage to be able to pickup your or someone else’s guitar any where any time with no song sheets around and play.

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Yep. Agree… i can do 3 songs without sheets. But everyone else i cannot… the 3 that i can almost play backwards is also the oldest ones… maybe my brain is limited to 3 songs only :rofl::rofl::rofl:

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Chords and the guitar part is not difficult to remember… i can do a lot of songs with just guitar. Its when the lyrics come to play the issues start. Almost never forgets the guitar part… only lyrics :thinking:

3 songs more than me… I’m jealous :laughing:

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Well… in all honesty… its two :see_no_evil:

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Really? I’m surprised. You don’t find yourself just immersed in a song, whether one you’ve learnt or something you’re making up? Just sitting and jam by yourself?


Now I can’t tell if you guys are being serious or not.

If there’s one thing I’m serious about, it’s that I don’t want people taking me seriously.