How To Stop Wasting 40-70% Of Your Guitar Practice Time & Improve Your Guitar Playing Faster
by Tom Hess
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What do you think is the #1 obstacle in your path to reaching your guitar playing goals?
Hint: it’s not: “lack of guitar practice time”. (You have more practice time than you think.)
It’s also not that you “don’t know enough about music/guitar playing”. The rate of your progress doesn't depend on how much you currently know about music.
The biggest killer of your musical progress is the time you waste while you practice guitar (without realizing it).
Your progress becomes much faster when you maximize every single minute you spend with your guitar and stop wasting the practice time you have.
Test your guitar practice methods to see how much you know about practicing guitar.
Avoid each destructive guitar practice habit below to speed up your guitar playing progress:
Destructive Guitar Practice Habit #1: Over Practicing Some Items And Under Practicing Others
There are 2 variations of this guitar practice habit:
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1. Mismanaged Guitar Practice Time. Most guitarists don’t put any thought into how their guitar practice time is allocated. They divide their total guitar practice time equally into the number of items they have to practice. This is wrong. Different musical skills must be practiced at different frequencies and in different amounts of time per guitar practice session.
2. Instant Gratification Guitar Practice. Most guitarists like to practice things they are already good at. This leaves less guitar practice time for the areas that really need to be improved in your guitar playing.
The specific frequency and amount of guitar practice time you should allocate to each item are determined by:
- your available guitar practice time (as your amount of guitar practice time changes, the frequency and amount of time you allocate to each item should change as well)
- your skill level with each item (as you improve a certain skill, you may not need to practice it as frequently as before)
- your specific goals (short and long term)
- your guitar practice habit tendencies and general preferences (this factor ensures that your practice schedules are personalized to you)
- your level of self-discipline (which varies for each item or skill you are practicing)
- the principles of how each item is best practiced and mastered
When any of these elements change, the way your guitar practice time is allocated needs to change as well.
Applying these principles creates an effective guitar practice habit that leads to faster progress and balanced guitar playing skills.
Destructive Guitar Practice Habit #2: Practicing Elements Of Your Guitar Playing In The Wrong Order
The specific order of items in your guitar practice schedule makes a huge difference in your guitar playing progress. The order matters both on a macro level and micro level.
Macro level refers to the general categories of musical skills (guitar playing technique, music theory, aural skills, etc.). You must practice items that require the highest degree of mental focus first.
Micro level refers to specific exercises within a guitar playing category (specific technique exercises, specific music theory concepts, specific ear training exercises, etc.).
Use the guitar practice generator to have personalized guitar practice schedules created just for you. This removes all guesswork from the practicing process and makes it easy to create the guitar practice habit of being focused.
Destructive Guitar Practice Habit #3: Not Warming Up Properly
You probably know that you should warm up before starting to seriously practice guitar. However, few guitarists warm up correctly. Most guitarists think that warming up refers to playing random finger exercises to get their fingers warm.
This approach wastes your guitar practice time in several ways:
- Most general guitar playing warm up exercises have nothing to do with your actual guitar practice materials. You spend a big part of your practice time on exercises that don’t help you reach your musical goals. Most guitarists spend 5-15 minutes warming up. If you have 45 minutes to practice guitar, 11-33% of your guitar practice time is spent on things that don’t make you better. Think about that…
- (The more serious problem) Your brain knows that your warm up exercises aren’t your real guitar practice items. Your brain becomes disengaged from the warm up process and allows your hands to go on autopilot.
Solution: Stop searching for random warm up exercises for guitar. Create a productive guitar practice habit by using the exact practice items you intend to practice today. Play them slowly and focus on perfect technique as your hands and brain warm up together.
Destructive Guitar Practice Habit #4: Practicing At Speeds Too Fast For Your Brain To Handle
Practicing guitar is NOT about playing the same thing over and over again. Effective guitar practice is about developing skills and refining them. Your mind and ears focus on specific elements of your guitar playing and build perfect muscle memory with them.
Effective Guitar Practice Habit Example:
When you practice a scale on guitar, focus on technique in each hand separately. Pay attention to your fretting hand and keep the fingers relaxed and close to the strings. Focus on fretting hand efficiency for several repetitions of the scale.
Next, switch focus to your picking hand technique. Make sure that your pick doesn't move more than necessary to keep your motions efficient.
You now know several common mistakes to avoid to create an effective guitar practice habit. The next step is to test yourself and identify your exact guitar practice strengths and weaknesses. This guitar playing assessment helps you make practicing guitar more effective and reach your musical goals faster.
Stop wasting 40-70% of your guitar practice time and become a better guitarist faster by using the Practice Generator.