One of the greatest challenges for most guitar players is learning how to get the most out of the time they spend practicing guitar. Fact is, many guitarists spend a great deal of time practicing guitar only to end up with limited results in their playing due to ineffective practice methods.
In a recent interview I held with Tom Hess (virtuoso guitar player in epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire), I had the opportunity to get his perspective on the topic of how to practice guitar for big results. During the interview, Tom shared his thoughts in his responses to some of the most frequently asked guitar practice questions.
The remaining content in this article contains various choice sections from e-mails that I showed to Tom in order to get his response and review. Each one contains questions asked by guitarists on the topic of guitar practice. Read below to see Tom
's advice on how to improve your guitar practice approach:
Tom Hess guitar practice review tip #1:
E-mail excerpt –
"I'd really like to get better at playing arpeggios with clean sweeps... I've gone online and found a ton of information, but I don't even know where to begin really. Feels a bit overwhelming. I just want to get better at sweep picking really fast, where can I get lessons that will help me?"
Tom's review and advice: If you are feeling like you are taking on too much information now, it will not be helpful to continue piling on even more! Fact is, being effective in your guitar practice is just as much about organization as it is about the actual information you are studying. With this in mind, work on finding a good method for organizing the materials you have right now into an efficient guitar practice system. While designing this system, think about not only the general goal that you want to achieve but also the specific shorter term obstacles in your playing that must be overcome to reach the final result. Your practice schedules should organize your practice materials to enable you to conquer the short term obstacles, thus getting you closer to the main goal.
Tom Hess guitar practice review tip #2:
E-mail excerpt –
"I get easily distracted while practicing guitar. Although I make time to sit down and practice, I usually just end up noodling around and playing random stuff."
Tom's review and advice: This is a very common occurrence for many guitar players. Most people have a difficult time when it comes to disciplining themselves during the time they set aside for guitar practice. It is very easy to start playing "fun" or "easy" stuff when faced with practicing things you haven't quite mastered yet. If you really want to see results from your guitar practice time, you must stay focused on the big picture and on your DESIRE to reach your goals. Keeping your eyes on the prize (your long term guitar playing goals) will make it easier to say 'no' to any distractions that will pop up for you during your practice.
Tom Hess guitar practice review tip #3:
E-mail excerpt –
"I work 40 hours at week at my job, leaving me only a small portion of the day available for guitar. I love to play, just don't have enough time. How can I still improve my guitar playing with so little time?"
Tom's review and advice: In order to get everything you can out of limited guitar practice time, you will need to focus on practicing the things that 'most' contribute to your overall guitar playing goals. Work on the things that will help you develop your guitar playing in several different areas at once. As an example, consider the following: Let's say you have a choice of working on using consistent picking technique in your guitar scales or playing the tapping part of a guitar solo that you like. Given these two options, choosing to work on your picking technique/scales will have the most impact on your overall guitar playing while choosing the tapping lick will only help you in one small area of your playing. The reason is because improving at 'playing scales' makes you better in multiple areas of guitar playing simultaneously, while practicing the tapping lick only makes you better at playing that specific lick. Of course you should practice 2 hand tapping if your goals demand it, but when it comes to practicing with 'limited amount of time', you will get more accomplished by focusing on items that have the highest transferability to your other musical skills. That said, you can make much better decisions on how to spend your guitar practice time when you expand your scope to see the big picture of each activity's effect on your guitar playing.
Tom Hess guitar practice review tip #4:
E-mail excerpt –
"I want to get good at guitar, but I am not sure what I should be working on."
Tom's review and advice: If you want to know what you need to do to get good at guitar, you will first need to clearly define what "good" means to you. In other words, you will first need to determine what your highest guitar playing goals are. Next, you need to take account of all the skills that you will need to possess in order to achieve them. Before I begin training new guitar students, I make sure that I clearly understand what their highest goals are, what the strong areas of their guitar playing are, weak areas, etc. Once these things have been determined, I can then begin to create a strategy to effectively help them. With this in mind, if you want to become a better guitar player in the quickest way possible, find a guitar teacher who knows exactly what you need to learn in order to reach your highest guitar playing goals.
Ryan: Thank you Tom for providing your advice and insight!
TH: You're welcome Ryan.
Ryan: For everyone who is reading this article, you should now have some great ideas to help you improve the effectiveness of your guitar practice. In order to get the most benefit from what you have learned, make sure to begin applying these ideas right now to improve your current guitar practice approach.
Get more information on the topic of creating a guitar practicing schedule by checking out Tom's guitar practice generator.
About The Author:
Ryan Buckner is an accomplished guitarist and composer who has been writing instructional material about guitar playing, musical composition and music theory since 2006. He has also taught guitar locally as the owner of his own guitar teaching business in Oklahoma City.