Sometimes it may seem as if you practice and practice and practice but get nowhere. All of your life you have been taught that practice makes perfect but somehow, despite your efforts in practicing the guitar, you feel you aren’t as far along as you should be.
So why does this happen to people? This is very frustrating and I have seen countless students in this very situation. When you’re in this stage of guitar playing, it seems like you are looking through a long tunnel that doesn’t ever lead to anything. You’re doing what you think is the best way to becoming a guitarist and for some reason it just isn’t going anywhere.
Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your practice time.
You practice what you already know.
If you’re practicing consists of playing all of the licks you already know, then the only thing you’re going to get better at is playing those licks. This will help to maintain your current level of proficiency, but it won’t help you to get any better than you already are. Having a good repertoire is important but only focus on it once or twice a week. You need to focus most of your time on the things that you are not good at. Work on the hard stuff. I know its not as much fun but find that inner motivation and challenge yourself to improve.
You practice sloppy.
If you’re practicing consists of flying through scales, exercises, and licks just to get through them, you’re probably not going to get anything out of it. Sloppy work leads to sloppy results. Slow down! There is no sense in racing through your practice sessions. Playing slow and deliberate is the key to playing fast. Nothing sounds worse than fast guitar licks that are just plain sloppy.
You’re not practicing properly.
In front of the TV with a bag of chips and a beer by your side, checking your smartphone for the latest tweets or Facebook posts is NOT practicing.
If you’re serious about getting better, then go in a room by yourself and spend 30 minutes concentrating on becoming a better guitarist. These 30 minutes by yourself will do much more for you than hours in the front of the television dividing your time between practicing the guitar and watching the latest reality show.
In addition, you would be surprised at how much time you waste surfing the internet for the latest guitar videos on YouTube or shopping for gear. Guitar is a contact sport. The more you put it in your hands, the quicker you will get better.
You don’t focus on one thing at a time.
With the advent of the Internet, a guitarist can have access to millions of guitar lessons at the click of a mouse. While this may sound like a good thing, it can be very detrimental. In a way it kinda teaches people to learn one little thing, then move to the next thing, and the next, and the next, and the next. Before you know it, you don’t even remember the first thing it is you were learning. I call these people Internet Guitar Players. They learned 100 different little riffs or ideas but have no idea what to do with them or even recall half of them. I don’t think it’s possible to learn something once and then be done. You have to learn how to apply it, and then practice it. Now don’t get me wrong. I think Internet guitar lessons are great. In fact I endorse and recommend several of them. My point is to stay focused and find a program that has structure to it. Sites like GuitarJamz.com, JamPlay and GuitarTricks all have fantastic programs that have structured programs that you can learn to apply what you are learning instead of having a bunch of random ideas that you don’t know what to do with. Better yet, find a good private guitar teacher. Not only will he or she give you the structure that you need but is able to provide feedback, mentoring and coaching in your playing. Use the online stuff to supplement what you are learning in your private lessons and have your teacher help you with that material if you have questions. That is the ultimate way to learn! Combining those things and taking advantage of the pros from each of those methods will almost guarantee your success! I do this with my own students all the time. I develop a roadmap for them based on their goals but they also like to use supplemental stuff for example of Steve Stine’s courses or the latest offering from Marty Schwartz. Then they bring that material to their lessons and I help them work out any issues they may be having. The students that do that see exponential growth!
Take a look at your guitar playing situation and really evaluate it and if any of the above sounds like you, make adjustments so that you can continue to improve as a guitar player.