8 September 2008

Aristotle's Guitar Practice Routine

A reader enquired last week about how to organize a practice routine. You can already find a couple of posts on this subject from the archives. But this week you are going to get a whole series of tips on practice routines and habits.

Let's start with a quote I like from Aristotle, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." There weren't many guitarists in ancient Greece, but this guy sure knew what it would take to learn. Practice regularly and well and you cannot fail to become a good guitarist.

Practicing Well



There isn't one ideal practice routine that suits all players in all circumstances. I use a variety of different routines to suit my mood, current objectives and the amount of time available at the given moment.

That's why this series will give you a whole set of different approaches to organize your practice. Choose what you like, mix and match things, and develop your own routines to help you play better guitar.

Guitar Practice Routine Objectives



To build a good practice routine, start by thinking about what you what the routine to achieve. Here are some suggestions for the objectives your routine has to try to reconcile.

1. Play better guitar

Enough said already. You want to get better or learn more songs, so you practice.

2. Keep motivated

It takes time and patience to learn guitar and you don't always improve in a linear fashion. A good practice routine gives you variety and stimulation to keep you motivated.

3. Avoid injury

Repetitive practice of the same exercises can lead to hand injury. You therefore want to avoid excessive repetition of exercises that cause strain.

4. Maintain your song repertoire

You need to review and revise songs and skills that you've learned so you don't lose them. Your practice routine has to include time to play "old" stuff that you don't want to forget.

5. Learn songs

If your practice routine just focuses on acquiring skills and technique then you will become a player with skills and technique, but no songs. The ultimate goal of a guitarist and musician is to play songs, so make time for this in your practice.

6. Let you experiment

Following an exercise plan can be a fine way to spend your practice time. But to gain insight and understanding into how music and the guitar works you should allow yourself some "free playing" time.

Forget the rigid practice schedule and give yourself some room to just play with your guitar. Try out new chords, experiment with positions on the fretboard, play "wrong" notes and chords to hear what they sound like, just doodle around on your guitar and get to know it better.

A good practice routine will include elements to support all of these objectives. But before you get overwhelmed by all those things to do, relax. You don't have to do them all, all of the time. Just be aware of them and find some place for them somewhere in your practice time.

Remember Aristotle's wise words, as long as you practice regularly you will improve and reach your guitar playing goals. Tune in for the next parts of this series where you'll learn some specific ideas for organizing your practice time. If you don't want to miss these then sign up for free notification by email or to your RSS reader.

2 comments:

MJK said...

I like your second tip:

2. Keep motivated
It takes time and patience to learn guitar and you don't always improve in a linear fashion. A good practice routine gives you variety and stimulation to keep you motivated.

...and checking your site helps.

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi MJK, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad to hear the site helps you.

Regards,
Gary

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