There are many different ways to practice guitar and know that you’re improving every time you pick it up. Here’s some great ideas to start to learn the science of practicing.
How do you know if you’re improving with how you’re practicing guitar? The average player who practices about 20 to 30 minutes a day needs to have a series of questions to ask themselves to mentally assess their practice sessions.
Getting good on guitar is a cumulative.It doesn’t happen in a week or a month but over a period of time. So how do you know at the end of a session if what you were working on is improving? If you are new to guitar and are learning your first chords.
Do you have a system for placing fingers down on the chords all at once, instead of one finger at a time. If you practice one finger at a time then that is how you will do it when you perform. This can be done with the left hand only. Ask yourself, can I visualize the chord in my mind or even better can I draw it out on paper?
Have the fingers hover over the strings where they need to go then put them all down. This is not as easy as it sounds but worth the effort since you will be working on the movement the proper way from the start. It really does save time.
Then when changing chords, are you changing smoothly? Are their breaks? Are you just playing the chords to “air”thinking it’s fast enough but realize you can’t change chords when you play songs? What if you changed chords every two beats smoothly and slowly with a metronome.
Changing chords on clicks 1 and 3. Now you’re able to see your actual numbers of how fast you can play. Or if had software for your computer to slow the recording down to a playable speed and then slowly work on building speed.
After being able to play the song smoothly, do you know the chords of the song? Do you know the chords for the Verse, the Chorus, and when playing can you stay one chord ahead, not waiting until the first beat of the new chord, which may be too late.
After we’ve been playing guitar for a while and start getting some skills together I believe there is a myth with a lot of students that we should be able to learn everything evenly and easily. There could be a couple measures in a song that will take hours to perfect and the rest of the song was relatively easy.
Once you have a practice method to improve it then just play it until you get it right. Another great way to approach learning a new piece so you don’t get overwhelmed is to take a small piece and then work on that for a couple days then add another small piece, kind of like putting a puzzle together.
Let’s say you’ve never finger picked before. Let’s say the strings you have to play are 6,3,2,1,2,3,2,3 and you have certain fingers assigned to these strings. Maybe you’ll spend 60 seconds just touching the strings with the right fingers. Then 60 seconds getting used to playing 6,3…6, 3. Then keep building the pattern. Then take a minute to play the pattern one time through and stop. When that’s easy, then play the pattern through two times and stop.
Then just work it up to being able to play the pattern for 30 to 60 seconds. Now you own it. Then start applying to other chords. Most students would take a chord progression and just try to play start to finish, repeating many mistakes. I’ve had great results with myself many years ago and with my students now who do this type of practice.
These are just a couple of examples of how to approach practicing to get a result. It does take patience, and be really intentional practicing this way. This is just a few ideas of many that I’ve used to help new students, intermediate and advanced students learn how to practice to improve.
There is a science to practicing. I remember for several years in the beginning just getting a lot of information from guitar teachers and not really getting good at playing. But when I learned how to practice and problem solve my own issues I got real good, fast. Remember, how you practice will determine how you play!
Keep playing and have fun,