Practice Without Your Guitar


As we go through the course of our day, no matter how busy we are we find ourselves with small blocks of down time.

Periodically I get questions from students asking how they can work on their  guitar playing during those “in between” moments.

Quite often these few moments of down time occur during the work day, on a  lunch break, waiting to pick the kids up from school, or in the middle of some  other activity where it's just not practical to have your guitar with you.

So how can you work on your guitar playing skills, without a guitar? Here are  some tips.

1. Work on “visualization”. The ability to visualize chord  and scale patterns is one of the most essential elements to mastering the  guitar. Taking a few moments to form mental pictures of specific chord and scale  patterns will help reinforce them when it comes time to actually put your hands  on the guitar.

2. Take the visualization process to the next level by actually writing out chord shapes and scale patterns. You can write them out in  a notebook of your own, or you can Google “chord sheet for guitar” and find a  number of free downloadable ones that you can print out and take with you. These  “chord” sheets can also be used to notate scales as well.

3. Strengthen hand and finger muscles. There are a number of  finger and hand exercise devices available that are compact and inexpensive.  Take one with you wherever you go and pull it out when you have a few minutes of  down time. If the act of performing a “finger workout” is not mentally  stimulating enough, work on visualization while performing the workout.

4. Play some “air guitar”. Work on your strumming hand by  holding an imaginary pick and doing some “air strumming”. Practice various  strumming patterns just as you would with a guitar in your hands. You will be  amazed at how this will reinforce your strumming technique and help your playing  in the long run.

5. Listen to music. Make copies of the original recordings  of some of the songs you are working on and really “listen” to them. Quite  often, when we have a guitar in our hands and we are playing along with a song  we tend to focus more on the “playing” than the “listening”. By having a few  moments to really listen to a song we can sometimes pick up some of the subtle  nuances and changes that we might have missed before.

Most of all, keep in mind that learning to play the guitar should be fun.  Have a good time with these “in between” activities, but be careful not to  suffer from information overload and the resulting burnout that can occur when  “fun” activities become a “chore”.

Keep things new and fresh and enjoy the journey. You'll be glad you  did.

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