19 December 2008

Guitar Practice: Never Be Stuck for Ideas Again

Do you know what to practice on your guitar? Over half the replies to the recent Guitar Learning Challenges survey said they didn't. If you are like them then here's one simple idea that should help you find plenty of useful things to work on.

Guitar practice vs. playing

The first step to creating effective practice routines is to realise that playing the guitar and guitar practice are different activities. You play guitar to entertain yourself, or others. But when you practice guitar, your objective should be to develop and maintain your guitar skills.

Many guitar learners approach the two in the same way, spending practice time playing their songs. But this is not the best way to improve your guitar skills.

Practice to your mistakes

To make your guitar practice effective you've got to spend time on stuff you don't know how to play already. You've got to confront your problems and find solutions for them in order to make progress.

What are your guitar problems? There is one easy way to identify them, start with the mistakes you make. Think about the mistakes you make when you play. Pick one and make solving it the subject of your next practice session.

It might take you one practice session or many to fix a problem. You might even need to look for some outside help, from a teacher, a friend or a guitar forum, for example. When you've fixed your mistake you can pick the next one and start again.

Don't forget your existing skills

If you're anything like me, your mistakes will give you plenty of things to work on. But don't forget that you need to spend some of your practice time to maintain existing skills.

Much like a runner needs to run regularly to maintain performance, your fingers and mind need regular workouts to maintain their performance level.

It is up to you to find a balance between existing skills and new ones that works for you. You can make agreeable and fun music with a small number of skills. And remember the practice time you'll need to spend to maintain the new skills. If your time is limited you might be better off with a small set of very good skills, rather than a lot of flaky ones.

Play a little and have fun

After a hard practice session staring your playing demons in the face take a few moments to relax and have fun. I like to finish every practice session with a little song or two. It serves as a great reminder of what all the hard work is for.

There you have one simple way to find things to practice. Remember that each problem you fix takes you one small step towards being a better guitar player.

I'll be back with more posts on this topic to follow-up on the responses to the Guitar Learning Challenges survey. Don't forget to sign up for email updates or RSS reader feed so you won't miss them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another great post Gary, Good solid advice.

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