Is Making Progress On Guitar ALL About Practice?

Recently I’ve heard a number of students say something like:

“It’s just all about practice isn’t it?”

At first you might think this makes sense. After all, if you don’t practice, you don’t get better, right?

Well that may be true, but there are other things BESIDES practicing which are super important for your progress to continue.

What Is Practice?

I would define practice as solitary, repetition of skills which create progress with your playing. There are some people who can focus very hard on repeating the same thing over and over again until they get it right. Way more people (like me) can’t focus on the same thing for too long before we get bored of it.

What Else Do We Need Apart From Practice?

When I was explaining this concept to my students, I wrote a diagram like this on the board:

USOM article 15 diagram

How To Keep Progressing, Practicing AND Having Fun

The thing about practicing on your own is, that it’s fine as part of a few different musical activities, but on it’s own, it won’t work long term for most people. This is because it’s not that much fun to practice on your own. Music is a social activity, and for most people, the real fun part is in playing music with others, whether jamming with friends, rehearsing with bands or playing gigs.

When you start playing, yes you have to practice, but there should be a purpose to it, and that purpose is to get you to have fun with your music. You can have fun by playing with others, or by other ways like jamming along with backing tracks (such as this one). Whatever way you enjoy playing, this is the fruit of your practice. Enjoy it! BUT… if you don’t go back to practicing some more, then guess what happens? You get bored of doing the exact same things over and over and you stop playing.

However, if you get inspired by having fun and/or playing with others, then you will be happy to practice some more which will then allow you to have even MORE fun, and play with more people. It takes a LOT of practice to get to the stage where you can play with very good musicians, and this is absolutely the most fun you can have.

One of my teachers told me once he was playing at a jazz festival and during the soundcheck Freddy Hubbard, the great jazz trumpeter, walked on stage and started playing with the band. My teacher said it was like being picked up by the scruff of the neck and dragged along at breakneck speed! THAT’S how powerful it is to play with a musician of that calibre.

So even at much less advanced stages, it can be an amazing experience to play with musicians at a higher level than you. Keep practicing to earn the right to have that experience!


If you are looking for someone to help you achieve that with your guitar playing, and get guitar lessons in Dublin, check out our website today.