Practice… To some people, it is the best part of their day. It is to them, what meditation can be for others. To some however, it is the dreaded eight-letter word that they either push aside, or they do it, but they definitely don’t enjoy it.
Practice can be really frustrating at times, and your enjoyment level can be very closely linked to how much, or little you are progressing. I mean, sometimes we can really think about throwing that guitar out the window or smashing it on concrete outside!
Fear not, for there is light at the end of the tunnel! I have complied a list of things you can start doing right now to get things rolling, and to improve on how much you get out of your practice sessions.
1. Learn A New Song, Chord Or Scale
It’s easy to get stuck playing the same things all the time. Why not try learning some exotic scale, maybe try out some dominant chords, or a B7b9 chord? Perhaps you could try to learn that song you’ve been listening to a lot lately, or learn a scale across the whole guitar neck.
When you feel like your stuck in a rut, it’s time to try learning something else on the guitar to see if inspiration hits. If your learning a new song, try learning one that has at least one chord or technique that is new to you, or that you know needs some work.
2. Seek Guidance From Other Musicians
You can get some pretty solid advice from the people around you who also play guitar. Approach Teachers, Tutors, Family, Friends, anyone you know who plays guitar, and ask them questions. That way you can learn from their mistakes, and their successes without having to go through it yourself.
You could also learn some really bad habits from some people, so use your own judgement on what and who’s ideas you use.
3. Remove Distractions
See ya later Facebook and Twitter, It’s time to put the phone down and stop scrolling! Turn off that TV and remove as many obvious distractions as you can that are in your control.
If you don’t do this, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure. There’s very little possibility that you will get as much out of your practice, if practice doesn’t have your attention.
4. Write Down What You Practiced
This can be very hard for some people to do, but those who do it can see great success. Each time you go to practice, make sure you have a pencil and paper handy. By writing down what you have done in your practice, you are giving yourself a place to measure your progress.
If you use a metronome you can also track your BPM (Beats Per Minute) on certain exercises.
Here’s an example of how you could set up your page
|G and D Chord||Strumming and Chord Changes||70||10 mins|
|C Major Scale||Forwards and Backwards||80||10 mins|
|Songs||12 Bar Blues in Am||65||10 mins|
5. Set Goals And Real Deadlines
There’s nothing quite like challenging yourself with a goal and setting real deadlines to set the fire under your butt. Sometimes we all might need that external push to get us moving, and to help keep ourselves accountable for our own learning.
Write down your goals and deadlines, and put it somewhere you will see it everyday. Writing it down helps make it real!
Try setting smaller goals and deadlines first by telling a friend or family member that you will play “This Song” by “This Date”, and make sure you do it. Then you can gradually work towards setting bigger goals and tighter deadlines.
6. A Practice System
If you can only put the smallest amount of routine into your week, you should develop a practice system.
A practice system is your guide to staying on track with your practice.
Here’s an example of how this could look, but experiment and find what works best for you. Your’s may have more or less items.
|minor Chords||Hammer Ons||Power Chords||Reading Sheet Music||Improvisation||minor Arpeggios|
|Open Chords||Vibrato||Pull Offs||Tremolo||Barre Chords||Slides||Major Arpeggios|
This is a living document!
By this I mean you will be updating your practice system all of the time to include new things you have recently learnt, or need to learn.
7. Pick Up Your Instrument Every Day
This may seem obvious to a seasoned professional, but your skill level is really affected by how often you pick up your instrument, to play, or practice.
You are far more likely to improve by playing one hour a day, rather than seven hours on one day of the week. The more familiar you are with your instrument, the easier it becomes to learn new skills and techniques.
One or Two More Things
Keep in mind that your mindset towards practice is about 80% of the battle. So when practice is made efficient, and you start seeing progress, it becomes much more enjoyable.
If your feeling really stuck creatively, I find there’s nothing like listening to an album that inspires you. Go to a gig, listen to something new you haven’t listened to, and search for something that blows your mind. Just listen to more music!
Let me know if this helped you or if you want to see more ideas like these.
So what do you do to make your guitar practice effective or enjoyable?