How to Build A Guitar Practice Routine
Under: Guitar Practice
If you’re struggling to see results, then you need a new guitar practice routine.
Let’s explore how we should be using our practice time. As well as what we should focus on.
Firstly have a plan.
Having a plan means you’ll waste less time deciding what to practise. It’s easy to maximize your practise time by removing the guesswork, regardless of how long or short, you have to practise.
Before you can plan, you need some goals. While this is up to you, here are some ideas. Learn 10 songs for a gig in two months time. By the summer learn the solo to Highway To Hell. Transcribe Paul Jackson Jr’s latest album over the next year.
All of these are epic goals.
They all are SMART goals. If you’re not aware of what that means, then it’s quite simple.
S = Speific
M = Measurable
A = achievable
R = Relvant
T = Time based
Think about these 5 things, when you’re deciding on your goals. There’s no point to having goals that aren’t useful for where you’re going (relevant) or that you can’t complete in the time (time-based).
So you have some goals? Great! Next, break each down into smaller goals. For example, if the goal is to learn a solo, you could break this down by licks. So, each lick becomes its own goal.
When you’ve broken each goal into smaller goal then you have the start of a plan. As with any plan, it’s only good if you follow it and measure your results.
Next on to time. How do you have available guitar practice? An hour a day, 4 hours daily?
If you only have half an hour, you might only be able to cover one smaller goal every month. That’s perfectly fine. It’s not worth the time or effort to learn a few things badly.
Remember, you will see great improvement in your whole guitar playing by focusing on one element. Just imagine being able to flow through songs without mistakes or stops, because you have the basics together and have confidence in your abilities!
Alternatively, if you have 6 hours, it’s best to break your time up into chunks and work on a few things. Of course, if you have 6 hours to practice, your goals are going different.
Master one thing
Please don’t focus on scales for 10 minutes, then 10 minutes on chords, etc. By having a tick box list, you’ll do damage to your progress. You’ll rush through the list and then watch TV.
Instead, take the entire practise time on a scale. Play it over a groove and make it sound like you have been playing it for years.
You could spend your time figuring out new chord voicings all over the guitar’s neck. After you’ve found a few interesting ones, then try to use a new chord in your favourite song. When you have mastered it, move on.
As you either advance or allocate more time, consider using the session to revisit a song you learnt a few months ago or the new chord from last week. You could also split the time in two. Use the first block to revisit, relearn and go over stuff. Then work on something new for the second half.
Please do record what you’ve worked on in a diary. Also if you can record audio, do so. A simple Mp3 recorder, like the Sony Voice Recorder ICD-PX will be fine. This way you can revisit ideas later.
My hero Carl Verheyen fills 8 or so notebooks each year with new licks, chords and melodies.
The more you plan what you will work on and focus on it until it’s complete, the faster your improvement will be.
For the pros
If your guitar practice routine is 6 hours daily, your goals and expectations career-wise will be different.
With 6 hours, you can mould that time to work on key skills like part writing, sight reading (the horror!), finding new sounds, recording techniques and so on.
Then you could move onto styles and their different attributes studying the key musicians who are known as being experts in that field.
It’s all relative. Focus on you and your guitar Practice routine. Don’t compare how other players might be doing. Remember, take time to enjoy the results!