As part of his book "Outliers", Malcolm Gladwell explained that it takes 10,000 hours of training to perfect a skill or area of interest. Though concerning guitar (and also other skill-sets) the time you spend rehearsing is just a portion of the puzzle. You also need to understand WHAT and HOW to rehearse to get the most from your personal guitar practice time.
Picture this: If you continued practicing the exact same piece of music for 10,000 hours, you wouldn't be getting any better at guitar. You'll merely be improving at the piece of music. It's a basic concept, but some people forget it. Quite a few new clients reach out to me to obtain classes for the reason that believe they are really in a rut. It is usually because they're not continually pushing their selves into diverse musical areas.
The main contributing factor is not developing a reliable approach when it comes to your practice sessions. I am going to describe an excellent guitar rehearsal session for you.
This is predicated on a thirty minute session. You are obviously allowed to rehearse a lot more if you want. The more the better. Expand each one of these basic steps, but keep the proportions the same. And given that the human attention span is limited, take a little 5 minute break near the 30 minute mark. You will notice that your brain is refreshed and it'll be easier to concentrate on the rest of your practice period.
During your respite, avoid getting distracted by something else that will throw you off. Just stretch a little, grab a glass of water, and get back to it.
Pre-Practice: Listening - Get yourself enthusiastic about practicing guitar by playing a couple of your favorite guitar songs. Choose songs that get you really fired up to spend time playing and draw on that energy while you start off your session.
2 Minutes: Stretches - Getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or even Tendonitis is a bummer. You can prevent the problems by way of adequately stretching out before you'll play. Do several wrist and shoulder stretching exercises so that you can relax everything up before digging in. You can perform these when you're listening to your pre-practice songs.
5 Minutes: Technique Exercise and Warm-Ups - What? Aren't you supposed to spend hours upon hours playing scales and arpeggios? Absolutely not. They're boring. Get warmed up with some of those exercises: scales, arpeggios, string skipping, finger combination exercises, diagonal picking, chromatic four-finger run, etc. Then start using them in songs in the next section. Technical exercises are like learning grammar. Playing songs is like writing a book. Be sure to do all of these with a metronome and switch up your exercises every couple of days.
18 Minutes: Project Pieces - This is where you use the most focus, working on whatever your current project songs are. It's where you'll put the technique building blocks to work and actually enjoy playing guitar instead of just playing scales. Don't try to work on any more than one two songs at a time. And besides just learning how to play it, make sure to investigate the theory and structure as well. The more you know about how music is structure, the easier it is to learn more songs later.
If you're challenging yourself correctly, you probably won't be able to learn the whole song in one practice session. It could take weeks or months to learn a song and that's ok. Sometimes though, you may hit a wall where you can't improve it any further. No biggie. Just put the song aside for a couple months and try it again after you've improved your skills elsewhere. You don't have to aim for perfection with everything.
If learning a whole song in 18 minutes is normal for you, you're not challenging yourself enough. Find songs to work on that are just above you level of capability. Challenging yourself constantly is the fastest way to improve on guitar. Save the easy songs for the free play section of your session.
8 Minutes: Free Play - Anything goes here as long as you're playing something. Simple songs, old stuff you enjoying jamming on, improvising, writing songs, whatever. Not only will you have fun here, you'll also learn to play without reservation.
Again, if you're going to do a longer session, say 60 minutes, just expand each of those time chunk proportionally. 10 minutes of technique, 36 minutes of project pieces, 16 minutes of free play. You could also do it as two distinct 30 minute sessions.
A couple bonus tips:
- Use a metronome for everything. You may want to smash it to bits at times, but it's your best ally in becoming a tighter guitarist.
- While you're playing, especially mindless technique stuff, different ideas will occur to you for licks, songs, lyrics, or even non-music stuff. Keep a note pad and small sound recorder close by when you practice to capture those ideas quickly and get them off your mind so you can focus on the practice tasks at hand. Go back and develop them during the free play chunk.
- "I didn't have time to practice" is the worst excuse you can have. And I hear it all the time. To cure this, schedule your practice session into your day just like other "have-to's". School, work, cook dinner, put the kids to bed, practice guitar. If it's important to you, treat it that way.
- Have a guitar readily at hand to play whenever you have a moment. Stuck on phone hold? rebooting the computer? Grab your guitar and play a bit. Yes, we want to keep the guitar clean and safe, but don't put it in the case when you're at home. Even that small task of getting it out of the case will keep you from playing as often as you might. If you're worried about a nice guitar being out in the open, buy a cheapo beater guitar and use that. Mine is always sitting next to my desk to be played on a moment's notice.
Having a solid plan and constantly challenging yourself to try something a little harder will make sure that your 10,000 hours of playing guitar are well spent.
For more step-by-step beginner guitar plans and brain hack, visit www.GuitarNotesForBeginnersHQ.com