While lots of people want to play guitar only a few it seem want to actually practice the guitar. Here are 8 great guitar practice tips to get your playing on track and up to speed to achieve your guitar playing goals.
1. Set a Regular Daily Practice Routine
Schedule and set aside a part of your day 5-6 days a week for practice. To improve on guitar it doesn’t takes hours every day. If you ‘re an adult a daily practice routine of 30 minutes day will work wonders for your guitar playing skills.
Set a time before or after work/school where you know you won’t be tired or distracted by other events. Some people are freshest in the morning. If that’s you get up 30 minutes earlier and practice before you leave the house for the day. If you’re more of a night owl practice before dinner when you get home or afterwards like around 8pm. Sometimes the evening practice routine can be interrupted by social events so you may need to mix up your evening with morning sessions. Some people I know even take their guitars to work and play at lunch so they’re not distracted by family at home. If this sounds like your situation give it a go.
In general it’s best to practice daily in small amounts verses playing for 2-3 hours on a Saturday or Sunday. You brain and fingers will remember and develop better co-ordination when it can work on guitar skills in regular smaller chunks.
Some days will be frustrating and you will feel that you’ve made no progress but often the next day things will click and you will be able to play that song or exercise you couldn’t play just a few days earlier. Cramming 1 or 2 days a week on the same thing can be like bashing your head against a brick wall and it won’t always bring results or that breakthrough you’re looking for.
2. Avoid Distractions
It’s so easy to be distracted from guitar practice today with TV, internet and smart phones all around us. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a huge time gobbler and are highly addictive. If you practice in the same room with your PC and find it to be a distraction close your web browser or switch off the monitor to avoid being sidetracked by social media updates. If you’ve got friends of family who text message you often turn your phone off or even leave it an another room while you practice. You can always text back after practice.
Also practicing guitar in front of the TV is not really quality practice as its not focussed. Its better to spend 30 minutes with focussed practiced in another room away from the TV then to spend hours aimlessly noodling on the guitar in front of the TV.
3. Set Guitar Practice Goals
I recommend setting weekly, monthly and yearly goals for your guitar practice. Goals help to keep you motivated and you can track your progress weekly throughout the year as you improve your guitar playing skills.
For example a weekly goal might be to learn a strumming pattern for a song or a scale or for more advanced players a guitar solo. A monthly goal it might be to play a song from start to finish with no mistakes. While a yearly goal might be to learn enough songs to audition for a band or to be able to go and play and a blues or jazz jam in your local area.
4. Use a Timer for Exercises and Sections
A great guitar practice tip is to use a countdown timer whether it be an old fashion egg timer or the timer on your smart phone to make sure you do your full practice time of 30 or 60 minutes etc. The rule is you’re not allowed to stop practice and do anything else until the timer runs out!
You can also use the timer for smaller sections of your practice routine. Set it for 5-10 minutes to practice scales or even for 1-2 minutes for a specific exercise such a repeating a new chord change until that minute is up.
5. Practice What You Suck At
One of the big rules of guitar practice is to “practice what you suck at”. Proper guitar practice should sound ugly as you are really meant to working on something new that haven’t mastered yet. If you practicing something you know you’re not really “practicing” you’re “playing”!
6. Mix Up Your Guitar Practice Routine
Change the order of the exercises you’re working on. Don’t always start with the same thing you did yesterday other wise your practice will quickly become boring and you will lose interest in practicing and playing the guitar. Some days you may spend more time on certain exercises or songs then others.
7. Make it Balanced
The idea of balancing your practice time is to ensure that you’re not just spending all your time practicing scales and solos but you’re also working on chords and rhythm guitar too. It’s essential to be good at a range of skills on guitar to be a well rounded player whether you’re playing rock, blues, jazz or metal etc.
8. Make it Fun
Overall it’s important to make you’re guitar practice fun to keep you motivated to become a better player. While there will always be parts of practice that are frustrating and tedious there are ways to make them more enjoyable.
For practicing scale exercises try playing them over a backing track or song in the same key. For example you can practice the C major scale over Let It Be by The Beatles as it’s in the key of C and once you’re comfortable with the scale and any exercises using it you can improvise a guitar solo over the song.