By Janus Buch
Knowing how to practice is crucially important if you reach your wanna guitar playing goals. When teaching my guitar students I often encounter some misconceptions about how to practice in an efficient way. A lot of the time my new students will tell me, that they practice several hours a day and complain that they don’t see much progress. The reason for his is often that they really don’t know how to practise. This is a big mistake and if you don’t know how to practice to get maximum results from the time spend chances are, that you are wasting it time. In this article I will give you my top 3 advice for guitarist who wanna get more out of their practice time.
1) Be mentally focused when you practice
This point seems obvious, but is very often completely overlooked or at least not given the attention, that it deserves. It cannot be overestimated how important this is. Guitar practicing is not really about physical training. It is a little bit, but it is much more about mental training and training you brain and mind. After all its your brain who’s telling your fingers how to move and what to play. This means that the focus and the concentration with which you are practicing is the determining factor in you getting the results you want. This means that if you are practicing in front of your tv or computer, you are wasting your time. If your telephone is not turned off while practicing, your will be distracted and you are wasting your time. If you are not telling your girlfriend or family not to disturb you while practicing, you are probably wasting your time. These examples are of course a little harsh, but the point is valid. You need to be focused in your practicing. Therefore go for short concentrated practice sessions rather than longer half hearted sessions. It’s better to practice ten minutes with maximum focus and efficiency that an hour in front of the tv. Ten minutes of full on concentration will be hard to do in the beginning, but with a little practice you will get better at it and as a result your guitar skills will go through the roof.
2) Are you practicing what you actually need to be practicing?
When new guitar students start studying with me I often find that there is a big discrepancy between what they are practicing or think they should practice to reach a certain goal and what they actually NEED to practice in order to reach said goal. For example the students who wanna learn how to improvise or solo will very often have learned the A-minor pentatonic boxes. In other words they will be practicing scales a lot because they think that this is what you need to do to get good at improvising. While there is nothing wrong with practicing scales, I often find that the same person who have been practicing the pentatonic boxes will not know which notes are in an A-minor chord or where these notes are on the fretboard or within the pentatonic boxes making the scale pretty much useless. Or they will be able to burn up and down the E-minor scale, but will not be able to play a single note, that sounds any good making a fast run up the scale redundant if you can’t finish it on an amazing sounding note. Therefore you need to be clear on the end-result, on what you want to be ably to do, break it down to its components and thereby and practice all of these things separately. This is how you identify what you actually NEED to be practicing.
3) Measure your progress
There is nothing better for one’s motivation than objective proof that the work you are putting in is actually paying of. Guitar progress comes in waves. There will be periods where it feels like you are taking giant leaps in your progress and there will be times when it feels like you are standing still. In the latter it is extremely important that you measure everything that can be measured in an objective way. This will help you through those periods. This obviously includes everything that you practice using a metronome, but almost everything can be objectively measured. How many voicing of C-major7 do you know? How quickly can you play them all? How long time does it take you to find all the A-notes on the fretboard? in how many positions can you play the same lick? The list goes on and on. Even your phrasing and improvising skills can be somewhat “measured” by recording yourself in regular intervals. These are just a few examples, but if you set your mind to it, you will be easily able to come up with a lot more that relates directly to your situation in no time. This WILL boost your motivation and make the bad periods feel better.
Implementing the three advices above will have a huge positive impact on your guitar practicing and by extension your guitar playing skills. Now go and kick ass on the guitar.
About the author: Janus Buch is a professional guitar teacher, long time player and founder of Bredballe GuitarSkole. If you’re not getting the results that you want from your guitar playing, then contact Bredballe Guitarskole for the best Guitar lessons for Electric Guitar in Vejle and let us help you take your guitar playing abilities to the next level.