10 September 2008

Guitar Practice Routine: Get Started

Not Playing Guitar's series on guitar practice routines kicks off today, right at the start. You can plan the most fancy practice routine in the world with all you need to become a guitar hero. But if you don't pick up your guitar and start to practice, your perfectly planned routine won't help you one bit.

You've Got to Start

Getting started is often a big hurdle, it's so easy to put off practice if your confidence is low. We have a natural tendency to avoid things that make us feel like failures, and learning guitar sure gives plenty of opportunity to feel like a failure. Fight back by making it as easy as possible to start playing.

How long do you take to start?

Try this simple test, right now if you can. Take a note of the time, and then go and start your guitar practice. While you prepare note all the steps you have to do before you actually start practice.

Are you started? No? Then go and do it now, once you've got your guitar and started practicing keep going until you're finished. Then come back and read the rest of this post. Go on, get up and practice, then come back to learn how to start more easily...

How to start fast

How did you do? Did you just pick up a nearby guitar and the practice exercises or songs sitting next to it, tune up and play? If so, it probably took you less than a minute. Congratulate yourself, you have a quick start already.

Maybe your preparation is more like this, though:

Go to the spare room where you keep your guitar in a cupboard. After wrestling it from behind the ironing board you rummage around for the tuner and finally find it in a drawer. Then you go off to find those song tabs you printed from a pile of papers on the desk.

Finally, you go to the sofa and tune up ready to play. But before you start working on that first song you remember you've left your metronome in the guitar bag. Back to the spare room...

The start of your practice routine might be easier than this chaotic example, but each step you have to take to prepare is a barrier to getting started. Each barrier makes it less likely you'll start guitar practice and more likely you'll spend your evening watching TV instead.

Try another little test now to see how long it takes you to switch on the TV and start watching. I bet it takes less time than you took to start your guitar practice?

What if you could make picking up your guitar to practice as easy as switching on the TV? Put your guitar in a prominent place, the mere sight of it will encourage you to start.

That done, make sure the practice tools you need are within easy reach, too: tuner, metronome, exercises or songs you're working on. Now you will be able to pick them up and play just as easily as you can switch on the TV.

If you want to get really good, you can go a step further. Put your TV in that cupboard in the spare room. Take the batteries out of the remote control and put the remote and batteries in separate drawers. You won't be surprised to discover that you'll watch a lot less TV and practice a lot more guitar.

Tune in for the next part of the series where you'll learn that not only should you start practice quickly, you should stop quicker than you might think, too...

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More on practice routines...

Aristotle's Guitar Practice Routine

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