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How to optimise your guitar practice
Getting the absolute most out of our guitar practice is vital for anybody who strives to master the guitar. To many guitar players and teachers focus solely on the amount of time spend practicing. I.E the more (number of hours) you practice the better results your are going to get. While there is some validity to this the amount of time your practice is only one of many factors that is decisive for how far your will get on your guitar, and it is by no means the most important one.
A practice hour for example can be spend with your guitar in front of the tv watching your favourite show while having a snack and a conversation with your partner about replanning the mortgage or it can be spend in a closed room, with the telefon, Ipad and tv turned of, with no outside distraction, just 100 procent focus on practicing what you need to practice in order to get better. There is a BIG difference between the two ways of practicing and you will get significantly better results using the second way. That is why your need to optimise your current practise routine BEFORE focusing on the amount of time spend practicing. In this article I will give you a few very helpfull tips to help you do just that.
Create a practice routine
A lot of the time, when guitarist thinks they are practicing, they are actually just sitting around playing whatever they feel like that particular time and day. Needles to say, this is not the best use of your practice time. In order for you to maximise your practice you have to plan your practice routine. That is to say if you have one hour to practice in, your need to know exactly what to practice every minute of the hour. My best advise would be to plan one week at a time. Choose 4-6 different things to practice that week. They should be in different areas, such as technique, aural skills, sigh reading, improvisation, fretboard knowledge and so all. All the items you pick should be directly linked to your longterm goal. Also some things are better to practice for a long time and some things are better to practise in short bursts but very often. Its often good to practice musical skills for longer periods of time and technical skills and shorter, but extremely concentrate bursts.
Use a timer
If you are like most people, you have a hard time concentrating on a single task for longer periods of time. By optimising your ability to concentrate, you will get A LOT more out of your practice routine. One thing I always encourage my students to do is to get a timer. Personally I use a gym boss. This timer not only times how long you have been practicing, but can also be set to beep at certain interval. I usually set it to one minute, which means that every time one minute has gone by I hear a couple of beeps reminding me once again to concentrate and focus on the thing that I am doing/practicing.
Change things up.
Your need to change your practice routine regularly in order for it to be effective. To know exactly when its time to change your practice routine, I have made the diagrams to the right. The first one is a diagram of time vs skills.
In the beginning when you start practicing something new you will quickly see a rise in your skills in this particular area. But that effects wears off and at some point you will reach a plateau, an you will find, that it takes you a lot longer to reach 5 more beats on the metronome than it did in the beginning.
The second diagram is a motivation vs. time diagram. Again in the beginning your will be really motivated while practicing something new. And in this period your will improve a lot just because you find it to be new and fun. This effects also wears of over time, and there comes a point where you are not motivated to practice that particular item in that way anymore. This will have a significant effect on the results your get out of your lessons.
You wanna change items or at least tweak them in some way, just at the point where these two diagrams are crossing. That way your motivation will always be high and you won’t spend too much time, trying to overreach in one particulate area. This way you will always use your practise time efficiently and learn the maximum of what you can.
About the author: Janus Buch is a professional guitar teacher teaching out of Copenhagen Denmark and running the Guitar Academy there. If your are local to the area and looking for Guitar Lessons Copenhagen, the Guitar Academy is defiantly the best choice.