One reason that it’s important for beginners to learn to interact with music in real time is that it prepares them to use session training to practice parts to real songs. Playing along with recordings of classic rock songs is the best way to learn not just the basics, but also the deeper nuances of rock music.
Session training is practicing specific parts to songs by playing with live music. Performance practice is the same thing as session training, except at stage volume. The purpose of performance practice is to mimic a live, higher-volume performance setting.
In order to use session training effectively, first you need the right equipment, then you need to create a physical space where you can use it. The purpose of a virtual band setting is to play along with a recording, so you can hear both the recording and your instrument clearly. Practicing with audio tracks in a virtual band setting is the best way to prepare for playing with a group, and performing in front of audiences. In short, it’s the best way to get good, and it’s the best measure of how good you are. More on this later in the chapter on getting the right equipment.
It’s difficult to play and listen to yourself at the same time, even for people who are good at multitasking. A simple solution is to record yourself as you play. Recording allows you to concentrate on playing, and then listen back to your performance. Phones, low-fidelity recorders and cassette recorders are fine for this purpose.