Getting in to a decent practice routine is one of the most important aspects of learning the guitar. Keeping it fresh and inspiring is key. In this blog I hope to help point you in the right direction to get the most out of your practice and what to do if you’re ever stuck in a rut.
Two of the biggest hurdles with practicing are actually starting the practice and the learning curve. I’ll deal with the latter first...
It can be very easy to feel like you’re not progressing enough. This in turn can make you feel like no matter how much you practice, it’s not worth it. Over the years what I have found is that I go through stages of learning a lot quickly and then get to a point where it seems I’ve exhausted what I can learn. This is the plateau of the learning curve and I have stumbled on it so many times during my career as a guitarist... but it hasn’t stopped me. Whenever I get to this point I find myself going back to basics and things I learned a long time ago. It always seems refreshing and I come across things I never noticed before. I try to make things simple and interesting like learning to play a scale/solo on one string with one finger (which is the opposite to what I have learned throughout my career).
It’s important to never forget why you started playing the guitar in the first place. For me... I always wanted to play my favourite songs. I spent a long time working towards that goal and now whenever I find myself struggling, I’ll go back and relearn some of those songs. I find this really motivates me and reminds me of why I wanted to play the guitar to start with. To be honest... it’s something I need to do more again anyway!
Now... to getting on with actually starting a practice session. With the amount of distractions in place these days coupled with all the other things people have to do, like work, school homework, cooking etc, it can be very hard to find the time and motivation to get up and practice. Quite often I’ll be watching TV and think to myself ‘I could be practicing the guitar right now’. Acting on that thought quickly usually ends up with me practicing the guitar and having a decent practice session, even if it’s only 10-20 minutes before watching a bit more TV. Films, binge watching series and playing computer games can take up so much of your time if you’re not careful. Before you go to turn on the TV, maybe grab your guitar first and have a practice for 15 minutes. Managing your time well is vital to getting in good practice.
I’ve always been a fan of practicing little but often if time is a bit of an issue. Practicing 10 minutes every day goes much further than practicing an hour on a Monday then not practicing again until Thursday for another hour as it’s quite likely you’ll have forgotten a lot of what you learned by then. Keeping what you are learning fresh in your head is key.
Trying to find some sort of routine can really help to boost not only how much you practice but how many different things you can learn in the time you give yourself. Click the link below to download some timetables I wrote for myself a while back when I had a lot of time during the week to get some good practice in. It worked wonders! I left time on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights as I was regularly playing shows those nights. If I wasn’t, I would have used the time to practice more.
All in all try your best to stay positive and plan your week so allow time for practice. In doing so you'll find you start to progress quicker and achieve your goals.