Practicing your instrument is the fundamental thing that determined your ability to progress. Therefore it’s a good idea to make sure you are doing it right! Or in other words produce more effective results for the time you spend. Practice should be regular, disciplined but fun, effective and produce good results over time.
How much do you want it? You have to really want to improve and get to where you want to be. It’s no good pretending or putting in a half effort. To succeed it’s going to take commitment and grit to see you through new challenges.
A great way to kickstart your motivation is to remember why you wanted to play in the first place and how that might feel. Think of a time when you heard your favourite guitarist or musician. It might be the first time you were really inspired by someone, or it may be someone you heard more recently. How did it make you feel? You may have thought wow I would love to be able to play like that!
What were the reasons you decided to take up the guitar or decide to take up lessons?
Make time to listen to music. It’s so important that you make time to simply sit and enjoy the music you like or would like to emulate. Going to concerts/ gigs can be a fantastic motivational boost for your playing.
Anything that you can do to experience music will undoubtedly make you a better musician. We all lead hectic lives these days and technology means that we can listen to music on the go with ipod’s, cd players etc. This is a great way to spend some of the day exposing your self to music on the go.
Once a week if I get time I like to spend an hour and just listen to a favourite album from beginning to end. Have you ever listen to an old favourite song and noticed something different about it? Notice the way the instruments interact, or maybe how a singer conveys certain lyrics.
Shot- term v’s Long- term goals
What are you long term goals? What are your short- term goals. So you want to play like Jimi? Well that may be your long- term goal. The way you will get there are you short- term goals. Setting up small aims each day breaks up the marathon. It also makes you feel better as you gain a feeling of achievement each time. It’s good to challenge your self but make sure each goal is realistic. If you feel that you don’t practice enough, so your short- term goal may be just to practice more often a week. Why not keep a notebook on you music stand and aim to practice five times in the week. Tick off each day you practice. The more you can form good practicing habits and get into a routine the quicker you can achieve your
long- term goals.
Remember learning an instrument is a process. And usually it can take years to be fairly competent. There are no real short cuts to learning guitar, which in ways is one of its beauties as we are always learning, and around every corner is something new to challenge and inspire us. So without trying to sounding clichéd Rome wasn’t built in a day. So pace yourself and know your goals. The road to mastery isn’t always a smooth one but its well worth the journey when you reach the destination you have been striving for.
People generally concentrate better in 20/30 minute intervals. After that the mind tends to wander. Its easy to get bored or distracted after this so make sure you are keeping an eye on how long you are practicing for.
Try and keep to these short burst of practice, little and often. Opposed to one long practice just before your next guitar lesson! This way your mind and fingers will better remember what you are learning. If you intend to come back and practice leave the guitar out. If you put it away in its case it will be harder to persuade yourself to practice instead of just easily reaching out and picking it up again. Once you get into a regular pattern of practice you will not only feel that you are making progress but that you are actively in control of the outcome. You are in control of your own success no one else.
Practicing is similar to programming a computer to perform a task. Once you have taken small chunks to learn, you can fit them all together to achieve the whole piece. You don’t necessarily need to start at the beginning when learning a new piece. Why not try the easiest part in the middle or the end and work you way back?
Slow it down!
Take it easy! Make sure that you practice nice and slow. That way you will be giving yourself enough time to think about what you need to achieve. Also it means that you won’t be rushing through something making lots of mistakes over and over again. Remember you are trying to program yourself to remember the piece or song. Make sure that you are using the correct fingering, notes, rhythm etc. Be patient with yourself and you will see good results. learning guitar is a process but one step at a time and you will achieve your goals.
Left hand/ right hand
Are you having problems syncing both hands? Or is something going wrong but cant quite put you finger on it (pardon the pun).
Sometimes trying to deal with both hands can be difficult. Try this approach and see if you have better results. This can be used for any particular kind of playing but lets pretend were looking at a chord progression.
We have a chord progression with four chords and a ♩♫♫♩ rhythm.
You can’t manage to get either the chord changes or the right hand strumming
Firstly forget about the right hand for a moment. Let it have a holiday and concentrate on you left hand. Practice very slowly changing between the chord shapes. Also try and get all the fingers on at the same time each time you change to a new chord. Then try this with your eyes closed. Even try practicing the shapes without a guitar while you for example when you are walking around or are waiting somewhere.
When you have the left hand working more efficiently lets look at the right hand and forget the left hand for a minute. Practice tapping the rhythm first so we are sure we are playing it right. Now try this on the strings using down strums. Next figure out an efficient way to use up ad down strums. Lets say D,D,U,D,U,D.
Now lets try putting both these hand together. Aim to keep the right hand moving even if the left hand hasn’t got to the next chord yet. Keep trying this and take it nice and slow. Eventually you should receive the benefit from this approach. You can use this for any kind of practicing really. If It’s just a bar or small section try this if you are finding things overwhelming and it should help.
Playing with and without distractions. Firstly when you are practicing you need a distraction free environment. Free of T.V,radio, computers etc. Turn off you phone and anything else which may make you tempted to think about doing anything else.
Then when you think you have mastered what you are learning or don’t have to read the music anymore go watch t.v but take your guitar! Practicing with distractions now means you are testing you subconscious and are now working from finger memory.
Discipline and having fun!
One game I used to play with my guitar teacher was to practice a piece or small section with your eyes closed. This was a really fun way to test yourself and make you realise what section needed the most work. Other times it just sounded like Les Dawson with notes all over the shop! The more you can memorise the less you have to rely on reading the music.
Being a musician does require discipline. You need time, perseverance and determination. However if you enjoying the process its fun to do anyway! Once you have a regular routine you will enjoy and see good results with your playing. Everyone has ups and downs, but as long as your putting the work in and communicating to you teacher any problems you will progress in time.
Stay relaxed but focused. Make sure that you are sitting correctly and not tense. If you feel tension try to relax or do some stretching exercises beforehand. This website has lots of good advice a bout how to take care when practicing. musicianshealth.com
I hope some of this is useful to you. Using a combination of the correct practice routine and working with an expert guitar teacher will surely get you to where you want to go with your playing.
Learning to play an instrument is something that will be with you forever. Let’s use the time we have to achieve as much as possible to that you can enjoy playing much more :)
“Whenever anyone ever says to me that they would like to learn an instrument I always encourage them by saying "the best thing about playing guitar is that you can never be bored again” Mark Anderson (one of our students)
More about Joe Bailey. Joe is a professional guitar tutor teaching in Gravesend, Meopham, Maidstone and North Kent. With over 20 years teaching guitarists to achieve their goals. Come and join at us at Kents only dedicated guitar school