5 June 2009

Guitar Practice Schedule

Inspired by the Curt's recent thoughts on practice routines at the Rock House Blog today I'm going to share my current guitar practice routine with you. My routine changes with time depending on how much time I have, how motivated to learn new things I am, and what my current playing goals or commitments are.

Here is my current routine, it comes in two parts.

Practice Schedule

The first part of the new routine is a regular schedule. My goal is 30 minutes per day every day of the week. I divide this time into two sessions, either 15 minutes each or 20 and 10.

The first is dedicated to serious practice, working on improving my playing through focused practice of specific skills or songs. The second session can either be more of the same, but sometimes I mix it with a bit of fun, or focus entirely on fun.

Practice Tasks

The second ingredient of my routine is a list of 10 practice tasks chosen to give me different things to work on.

The variety not only helps make practice more interesting, I also find it more effective. If I keep hammering away at the same problem I don't always make progress. But when I practice a bit, do something else, then come back to the problem I often progress faster.

I work through the tasks on the list in order, repeating each exercise or song no more than three times. I don't finish all the items in one day, so I simply pick up where I left off the next time.

Here is a copy of my list right now (did I mention that I like blues?).

  1. The Thrill Is Gone
  2. Hard Time Killing Floor
  3. Mary Had A Little Lamb
  4. Penta major licks around chord shapes
  5. Boogie Chillen
  6. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
  7. Key To The Highway
  8. Worried Life Blues
  9. Funky Blues Fills on E, D, C, F, G @110bpm
  10. 6th string 7th chord position

Tip For Avoiding Distraction

The list helps me to focus on what I need to work on and not get distracted. Something I find useful for avoiding distraction is a scrap list where I note new ideas or exercises. I don't work on any of them until I've finished with the current list (but sometimes I cheat a little).


When the time comes I make a new list of 10 things to practice. I might include something from the scrap list, but often these don't seem so interesting any more. Again the scrap list helps me spend less time on distractions and more time on the things that really matter for my guitar goals.

So that's my current guitar practice routine. It works well and is very simple. That means less time spent twiddling with the plan and more time spent on practice.

What's your guitar practice routine? If you have a guitar site why not leave a comment with a link to your page sharing your practice routine so we can all learn from it.


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Ohad said...

Good post.
One thing worth to mansion:
I'm a marshal art student and the teacher instruct us to practice 6 days a week.
the reason is that in the day 'off' the body learns and the things you practiced during the week 'sink'.
It may sound strange but it actually works :)


Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Ohad. Thanks for your comment, you make a good point about the day of rest.

I usually end up missing at least one day, so I guess I'm not missing out on the 'sink' ;-) I just find it easier to think of playing every day, its simple.

Hmm, marshal arts? I bet there are some good marshal arts tips to help learning guitar...?

Ohad said...

Hi Gary,
About marshal arts tips:
Actually it looks like you know them already. The same rules apply to both disciplines:
Starts slow and be precise, be patient etc.
You can insert to the list almost every rule you apply to a musical instrument practice.
The main difference I see is that marshal arts has something like 1500 years of history so the form of the practice (Kata as it called in marshal arts) is well defined. I can not invent my own practice routine, other great masters set the rules and only someone at very high level can insert changes to the Kata.
I think that learning a musical instrument and a marshal art supports each other even though you have to split your free time between the two.

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Ohad,
I can well believe the two disciplines help each other. The Kata of learning guitar... sounds like an interesting concept.

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