Are you satisfied with the progress you made during the past year?
Is improving your playing on your to-do-list?
Do you have a plan to follow to accomplish this goal?
Are you already behind on your expectations?
Sometimes these goals appear just too big to tackle when we look at the big picture so we never really get started. It’s like the old question “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time.” That’s how it is with guitar playing too! Don’t set a goal to be great by the end of the year but instead just take it one bite at a time. Work to be better today than you were yesterday.
Could you find just 20 minutes a day consistently to become a better player?
I know, I know, some days you just can’t practice, life gets in the way. I find many players spend longer than that doodling around on their guitar daily, just playing the things they already know and wondering why they’re not getting any better. Maybe you could also squeeze in some time in while you’re watching TV or a movie and quietly practice some scale exercises. That builds finger memory and dexterity.
There are many things you can do to improve your guitar playing without spending a lot of time. Here are three suggestions to help you improve in 2012.
- Get the right material. We believe we have the best home study material available. Just work our plan and the plan with work for you.
- Get organized. Don’t wait until practice time to hunt for your book, strap, pick, etc. Leave your gear and material set up, so you don’t waste your time and hassle with setting up every time you want to practice.
- Get focused. Don’t waste your time bouncing around from video to book to magazine, to whatever. Sure it’s fun to change things up and I encourage that. However if that’s all your doing with no direction or focus you’ll see no improvement for the time you’re spending.
If you haven’t started with Guitar College yet, now is the perfect time to get started. Guitar College is the most affordable, effective and convenient way to improve your playing and get a music education as well in as little as 20 minutes a day.
Here are 10 steps for effective practicing
1. Search for the proper material to practice, material that will improve your playing, increase your musical knowledge and inspire your creativity. You should focus on an organized, systematic study plan that will take your playing and knowledge to the next level. Don’t waste your time bouncing around from video to book to magazine, to whatever. Sure it’s fun to change things up and I encourage that but if that’s all your doing with no direction or focus you won't see any improvement for the time you’re spending.
2. If at all possible, find a little tucked away area where you can leave your gear and material set up, so you don’t have to waste time and hassle with setting up when you want to practice. Make your practice area a pleasant space to be in; maybe add a plant (relaxing) and pictures (CD or LP covers) of your favorite guitar heroes to motivate you. Keep it neat and organized so you’ll look forward to your time there and it won’t be an eyesore to others.
3. Studies show that using a music stand while you practice helps you learn faster. Probably because it is the most comfortable and effective way to view your material and avoid cramping in your neck, back, shoulders, etc.
4. Have your materials and equipment ready to practice before you sit down to begin. Don’t wait until practice time to hunt for your book, strap, pick, etc. With our E-Courses on your laptop you always know where to find your study materials.
5. Practice daily whenever possible. Some of us have different routines on different days of the week and can‘t practice at the same time each day. Study your schedule for a week and find the best times each day for you to practice pencil it in make it a priority. Plan ahead for your practice time and material for at least a week at a time.
6. Small consistent units of time produce great results. It’s been shown that we retain more information from short regular periods of study than from long irregular intervals. If your goal is to practice an hour a day, three 20 minute sessions is the most effective plan. After 20 minutes of practicing your focus and retention decreases steadily and frustration may increase. Short multiple sessions, even reviewing the same material, increase retention. It’s usually easier to squeeze in two or three 20-minute practice sessions throughout a busy day than finding a full hour. Sometimes it’s even a refreshing break.
7. Use a timer, when the bell rings the practice session is over. Once you get started practicing it’s a real temptation to keep going even when it interferes with other important things. Don’t let your guitar playing cause you to neglect other daily tasks, and make feel guilty when you practice. If you haven’t finished don’t spend more than a couple minutes wrapping this session up. Put your guitar down and move on to your next task. If you have more practice time available now, take a 5-10 minute break before resuming. Also don’t think if you practiced an hour one day you can skip the next. Practice daily
8. A metronome is essential for measuring your progress and necessary to develop good time, which is essential for playing with others. You’ll need a good electric metronome with a deep tone. After you’re familiar with a piece start practicing it at a slow pace like 70BPM. When you can play the piece through without any mistakes put the tempo up to 76BPM and try it there. Whenever you make a mistake reduce your tempo and stay there until you can play it through again perfectly. This reinforces all the correct moves. Then increase the tempo and try it again. Reduce the tempo again if necessary to reinforce again. This is the fastest way to learn. PRACTICE DOESN’T MAKE PERFECT, PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. When you’re practice time has ended write down the date and the tempo setting on your music or practice log so you’ll know where to start next session.
9. Move on before you get frustrated. Don’t waste too much time trying to perfect things, especially if it frustrates you. Some students prefer to move through an entire book 2 or 3 times to avoid getting stuck on something and becoming frustrated. The difficult parts seem easier when you come back to them. You may learn something new in the meantime that will makes that tough part easier to learn next time through.
10. Make your recorder your best friend. You’ll need some type of recorder to record yourself practicing. First, listen to the instruction while you read in the book, then play along and after practicing the material briefly, record yourself. The quality of the recording is not important; go for the ease of one button recording with no level checks. This way you play something short and play it back easily. Make sure your metronome is audible when you record. End each practice session recording and begin the next by listening so you can work out the rough spots. Listen for improvement. Save some of your practice recordings and when you feel like there is no progress, go back and listen to some old recordings, you’ll hear the progress! Keep it up, consistency is important.