7 April 2010

Guitar Practice - Rituals to Get Started

We all experience highs and lows in our guitar practice motivation. Sometimes it's easy to get started, we just can't wait to try out a new technique or learn a new song. But other times we seem to find a thousand excuses to avoid starting practice.

Often, when I avoid practice it's because I have doubts, doubts about a difficult piece I have to work on, or doubts about my ability to play guitar in general. I have found a good solution is to develop a ritual that gets me into the mood to practice guitar.

If you can associate something pleasant and easy action with your guitar practice it will become easier to start. Each time you perform the action you'll shed distractions and doubts and move into focus on guitar practice.

It's quite easy to create rituals, to help you find yours here are five approaches that I've found useful.

1) Free Write

If you are plagued by doubts about your playing then letting it all out on a sheet of paper can work wonders. Take a blank sheet and simply let yourself rant about your fears and doubts, or you can write about how much you look forward to guitar practice. Write for five minutes and then stop and pick up your guitar.

2) Breathing

A few minutes of deep breathing is a great way to focus your attention and bring on a calm mood ready to tackle guitar practice.

3) Visualize

One way I like to prepare is to picture myself as I step through a door into an imaginary place where I can sit and practice: a beautiful landscape, or onto a stage to perform, or an intimate little studio with all the best equipment for my needs.

If visualization is not your thing then you can use some real pictures instead. Look at a picture of your dream guitar, a guitar hero, or a scene you enjoy to create a happy and relaxed feeling that you can carry over into your practice session.

4) Read

A short and inspiring read from your favourite book, the words of a song or even a little motivational statement you write for yourself is another good ritual. You might also simply read the previous day's practice notes to put your projects back in your mind or spark new ideas.

5) Listen to Music

Why not listen to a favourite piece of music to get myself into the mood to play? You could listen to one of your guitar inspirations or simply your latest favourite track. A voice recording of a motivational or relaxing message might be another useful way to get into the mood.

Take one of these ideas and adapt it for your own guitar practice ritual. Almost any simple activity that helps you feel good and takes only a few minutes will work. As you can see from my list, it can also be useful to have several rituals so you can change from time to time.

Develop a link from the ritual to guitar practice by starting every practice with it for at least three weeks. Your mind will form an association and then whenever you perform your ritual you will have a natural urge to follow it up with guitar practice.

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