Improve Your Practice Time Part 1

We all want to be instant rock stars.  We spend hours trolling the internet, watching Youtube videos and hanging out in guitar stores thinking we can master the guitar through osmosis or by taking some magic pill.  The truth of it is that we need to spend quality and efficient time with the guitar in our hands practicing.

For some, the term “practicing” conjures up visions of drudgery and self-imposed imprisonment. And it is that mindset that leads many new guitar students to fail. But just by tweaking their outlook on practicing to a more positive slant, most students can turn practice from a mind numbing, boring task, into an exciting world of new discovery.

One way of accomplishing this is to split practice time up into key parts. Devoting a little time to each segment of practice will alleviate boredom and/or burnout. A guitar student might split practice time into three different segments. One for learning new material, one for reviewing past material, and one for “play” time.  Let’s take a look at each of these core segments of practice.

New Material
As an aspiring guitarist you should always be hungry to learn new things on the guitar. It might be a new scale, chord progression, riff or song. New material on the keeps things “fresh” and creates a level of excitement every time you pick it up. There is such a thing, however, as “too much new information”. Take new material in sips, not gulps. Give smaller pieces time to digest before trying to cram too much in there. You will make a lot more progress on the guitar by letting small pieces of new information become slowly ingrained into your playing style, than trying to shove it all down at once.  If you try to learn something new before the last thing has really sunk in, you wont be able to retain it and you will have gained nothing.

Review Past Material
Related to the concept discussed above, if you frequently review past material, you won’t retain it.  Having a number of songs, riffs and pieces of music that you can play on demand is what we call repetoire.  Devoting a segment of your practice time to going back over past lessons or songs will be one of the most productive uses of your time possible.

“Play Time”
It can be amazing what happens when you just sit around and “doodle” on the guitar. Doodle time involves throwing out all the rules, turning off the internal “editor”, and just “messing around” with whatever comes out of your fingertips.

Call this “recess” for the guitar. Nothing is right or wrong, it doesn’t matter what you play. Just let your mind run free and don’t “over-thinK” anything. Some of the best songs and musical pieces have been written as a result of the guitarist or song writer allowing themselves to “float freely” on their instrument with no concern of where they land.

Whether you have 3 hours to devote to practice, or only 15 minutes – try dividing your allotted amount of time into these three segments and see how much more you improve on the guitar…and, how much more fun you have!

In part 2, we’ll take a look at 3 more key elements that will improve your practice time and help you make greater strides in your journey to master the guitar.