23 August 2010

5 Ways To Rekindle Guitar Practice Enthusiasm

Us guitar players should always be on the lookout for new ways to boost our guitar practice. After all, the way we get better is practice, practice, practice, right?

But keeping up motivation and attention can be hard, even for the most enthusiastic player. Sometimes, that practice session seems like a drag and you don't want to face up to it.

Here are five tips for making practice sessions more fun and easier to approach.

1. Relax

A relaxed mind and body is a fantastic guitar practice tool. You might not be aware of just how much tension you have when you practice guitar because you become so used to playing with it that it feels normal.

Take 10 minutes or so before you practice to get rid of all that tension. Perform some relaxation exercises to free your mind and body of all the tensions of the day.

2. Use Visualizations

Here's an easy test to demonstrate to yourself how powerful visualization can be. Think of going to the fridge to get yourself a beer, or maybe see yourself about to eat your favourite cake.

I bet that instantly conjured up all sorts of pleasant images. You probably even feel sensations or odours as well as a strong urge to drink that beer or eat the cake.

That's the power of visualization.

Create yourself some agreeable images of your guitar practice and you can use them to give yourself that practice urge too.

Stick with me for just a couple more minutes to read the 3 remaining tips before you go get yourself that beer or cake...

3. Do It First

How many days did you miss out on guitar practice because you just got busy with other things? You set out with good intentions, but there was just so much on that before you knew it it was time for bed and you were too whacked to practice guitar.

Sometimes, several days can go by in this way...

One solution that ensures you never miss a practice day again is to do it first thing in the morning. Get yourself out of bed a little earlier, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and before you do anything else practice that guitar.

4. Don't Watch The Clock

Most of the time I see people talking about guitar practice schedules in terms of time. So many minutes a day, 3 minutes on that, 4 minutes on that, ...

But I find that practicing to a stopwatch gets kind of stressful. I prefer instead to set the number of repetitions I plan to repeat each practice exercise. Usually somewhere between three and five at the most.

Then I can sit down to practice and just get on with playing without worrying about time. Do three repetitions, then move on to the next exercise, and the next, and the next, until you are done.

5. Catch Yourself Doing Something Right

Guitar practice sometimes feels unpleasant because it's an occasion to notice how many things you don't do right yet.

We generally don't much like unpleasant experiences and so we start to come up with all kinds of "excuses" to avoid them. No time, need to change strings, don't have the right amp, don't have the right tuition book, and so on.

Next time you practice don't focus on the things you don't do right, resolve instead to notice three things that you actually do right. Take a moment to savour these little victories and extract as much feel-good factor as you can from them.

The memory of these good feelings will keep bad feelings at bay and turn guitar practice into a more pleasant experience that you'll want to repeat.


Let's take a moment to reflect on what you've seen in this lesson.

  1. Relax, remember tension is the enemy of concentration.
  2. Use visualizations, stimulate your urge to practice.
  3. Do it first, make a satisfying start to your day.
  4. Don't watch the clock, repeat each exercise a fixed number of times.
  5. Catch yourself doing something right, remind yourself of the good things you do.

How Do You Boost Your Practice Enthusiasm?

Does your enthusiasm for guitar practice wane from time to time? If so, what do you do to rekindle it? Share your techniques by clicking on the comment link below...

Oh, and when you've done that you can go and get that cake.

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Willem said...

Sometimes I will stay away from the guitar because I feel I /need/ to practice. I /have to/ get better. That makes it a chore, and I end up procrastinating.

In my experience if I allow myself to pick up the guitar and have fun, play what I want, then sooner or later I find myself practising again!

Gary Fletcher said...

@Willem, Know what you mean. You've got to leave some space for just playing. Pressure, pressure, pressure is a good way to kill the fun.

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