Make Faster Progress By Practicing Away From Your Guitar
by Tom Hess
One of the best ways to make faster progress on guitar is to learn which skills can be practiced without your guitar. This lets you use your limited guitar practice time on things you absolutely need your guitar for, so you can master them most quickly. You then use your time away from your guitar to practice musical skills that can be learned without your instrument. The result: you double or triple your overall available practice time and accelerate your musical progress!
Here are some examples of skills you can practice without your guitar:
Understanding music theory concepts does not necessarily require your guitar. Learning things such as how to build intervals, chord construction, key signatures or how basic harmony works can be done without ever picking up your guitar. It’s better to learn them away from your instrument at first. Once you have a basic understanding of these concepts, use your guitar to begin applying them in a musical manner. Then you are able to use your knowledge to play guitar much more expressively.
Learning to identify basic intervals or chords by ear can easily be done without your guitar. This skill can be practiced anywhere by simply using a program on your phone or computer.
Basic finger independence exercises can be practiced anywhere. Practicing finger independence away from your guitar can be done by simply tapping patterns with your fingers on a table top. Developing finger independence during guitar practice is better done in combination with different techniques or skills (rather than in isolation as its own exercise).
Memorizing the fretboard is mostly a mental exercise when practiced on its own. This is easily done by using pen and paper (with tablature if possible) to write down the notes of each fret. While you are with your instrument, you get more results from working on muscle memory and pattern memorization.
To get the best results from your guitar practice, eliminate elements (like what is mentioned above) that under-utilize your time. Replace them with important practice elements that help you get results and reach your musical goals faster. This makes practicing guitar feel more fun and motivating as you watch yourself improving every session.
Watch this video to learn more ways to improve faster when your practice time is limited:
Note: After you develop musical skills away from the guitar, integrate them with your other guitar playing skills during your physical practice time. Do this by improvising over backing tracks (to apply your improved fretboard memorization/visualization skills, music theory knowledge and aural skills) and by writing songs (of that is a goal of yours).
Now that you know how to speed up your progress away from your guitar, the next step is to create the most effective practice schedules to follow during your actual guitar practice time. Read this guitar practice article to learn how to make 2-5 times the amount of progress you've made in the past without increasing your practice time.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.