The quick answer is YES! We have all heard the saying that "Practice Makes Perfect." However, how we practice is equally important to improving our technique and musicianship. In this article, we will explore different practicing techniques to help you make the most of your time with your guitar.
Probably the most important technique in developing a practice schedule is determining how much time can be spent mastering your craft each day/week. A realistic goal is to set aside 30 minutes a day for practice. This may seem difficult at first, but once practice becomes a consistent part of your schedule, you are more likely to stick to your practice routine and hone in your skills much more efficiently.
Now that you have time set aside in your schedule, it's time to create a routine for each practice session. Each practice session should consist of three different sections: warmups and scales, reviewing material, and learning new material. During a standard 30 minute practice session, I recommend dividing your time in this manner:
- Warm ups and Scales-5 Minutes (Remember to stretch your fingers and arms!)
- Review-10 Minutes (Practice previously learned material)
- New Material-15 Minutes (Learning new exercises or songs)
Setting a strict routine helps avoid "noodling," which really can't be considered "practice." There is a ton of value in noodling/free play, so it shouldn't be completely disregarded. However, "playing" guitar and "practicing" guitar are two very different things. Many of us resort to free play when we can't think of anything else to practice. When this happens, remind yourself of your overall goal for playing guitar. Is there a specific song that you are dying to learn? If so, what techniques will help you learn that song? Create a list of techniques needed to reach your goal and find resources and exercises to help you practice (StringWerx will soon offer video lessons to help with learning techniques!), and make sure that you set realistic practice goals each week to help you stay on track!
The final technique that I recommend for practicing is TRACK YOUR PROGRESS!! It is so incredibly crucial for learners to have some way of tracking the progress that we have made in our learning since we started our guitar journey. This not only helps you to stay on track with your goals, but also helps with recognizing how far you have come as a player! As musicians, we often tend to be perfectionists. We regularly disregard all of our achievements and focus on our faults or weaknesses. Tracking your progress allows you to focus on all that you have already accomplished. My favorite form of tracking progress is keeping a journal. In my journal, I write down what exercises I practiced and at what bpms (Yes, you should always practice with a metronome). I also use the journal to track the sections of a song that I have learned during the practice session. And finally, I use it to write down my goals for my next practice session. A practice journal is the ultimate tool to help you reach your goals faster, while also staying organized as a musician.
As a secondary form of tracking progress, I recommend recording yourself playing whatever exercises or songs that you are working on. Listen to the recordings and see if they meet your expectations. If so, what exactly did you like about your playing? If not, what exactly can you do to improve for the next time you record yourself?
Overall, creating a consistent practice routine is probably the most crucial part of learning an instrument. Doing so can avoid practice slumps, and hitting practice "walls" that ultimately lead to frustration. When you are frustrated with your practice, examine your routine and see if any of the listed suggestions above help revitalize your practice sessions!
I hope you've enjoyed this post! please remember to like and subscribe to the StringWerx page for more lessons and tips! Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how your practice is going!