In this article, I will explain how to practice guitar and make significant progress, even if you do not have enough time to practice.
We all have days (or weeks) when our guitar practice time is much less than we would like it to be.
But does this mean that you should simply ‘accept’ the slow musical progress of those days?
The answer is no!
There are many things you can do to maintain a very high level of effectiveness and efficiency in your practice, no matter how much time you have to practice on a given day.
Here are five things you need to do to ensure your guitar progress never stops, no matter how much practice time you have available.
1. How to Practice Guitar – Focus on the ‘Big 8’
One of the biggest mistakes guitarists make when it comes to practicing (no matter how much time they have) is distracting themselves.
Focusing on hundreds of exercises, lessons, resources, and unrelated materials. The Internet (as wonderful as it is) makes this problem a lot worse – you’re bombarded with new things to do on a regular basis.
In fact, there are only 8 basic areas of guitar playing that you should be focusing on at any given time: technique, music theory, ear training, chords, fretboard visualization, chord and scale vocabulary, rhythm guitar playing, and creative application.
I will later make articles and videos about each field individually and how to get started in each field even if you are a complete beginner.
2. Focus on maximizing the ‘results per minute of exercise
The amount of time you practice is completely meaningless…the only thing that is meaningful is the amount of ‘progress’ you can make per minute of exercise.
Two guitarists can practice the same things for equal amounts of time and still get vastly different results if one person’s ‘result factor’ is much greater than the other’s ‘result factor’.
What does this mean for you?
This means that before working to increase your total practicing time, you must improve your ability to get maximum results from whatever time you have.
You will take care of this partly at the ‘macro level’, by narrowing your focus to just the eight core areas of practice described above.
On a micro level, this concept refers to achieving complete clarity about the specific skill that each exercise helps you improve or hone and focusing like a laser on just that goal.
For example, if you are practicing to improve your picking efficiency using scales, determine exactly ‘which’ aspect of the picking hand movement is ineffective (such as following through after each note as an example) and focus intently on practicing only ‘that’ part of the movement to become perfect during the exercise.
There are too many examples of this idea beyond the scope of this article, but just being aware of this general principle will go a long way toward making how you practice guitar more effective.
3. Use each exercise to improve more than one skill
In addition to limiting your focus to the eight core areas of music I described above, you should also ‘alternate’ the things you focus on as you practice each exercise.
In other words, instead of one exercise to practice your technique, one exercise to practice visualizing the fretboard, one exercise to practice your ear, and one exercise to practice creative application, you can take care of all of these areas with just one exercise. You can do this simply by switching up what your mind focuses on during exercise.
Take a new scale and intend to practice it for 20 minutes. Instead of using the full 20 minutes to focus only on ‘one’ element of playing with this scale (like technique, for example), practice it like this:
For 5 minutes, focus on improving your guitar technique with this scale (as described above in the previous section on maximizing ‘scores per minute’)
For the next five minutes, focus on extending the scale to each area of the fretboard, until you can use the scale fluently during solo practice.
For the next 5 minutes, focus on ‘singing’ the scale to improve your ear’s ability to hear melodies using that scale and memorize their sound.
For the last 5 minutes, focus on coming up with creative sequencing patterns using scales that you can play in your guitar solos.
Focusing on the above four areas in the same 20-minute block of time will make you a much better guitarist than you would become if you only focused on ‘one’ element of your playing with the same practice.
This increased efficiency also helps you maximize your results per minute as described above.
4. Set precise goals for each guitar practice session
Don’t practice for the sake of practice (randomly). Instead, visualize each practice session as a ‘step’ towards achieving much larger goals for your guitar playing.
With this image in mind, each practicing session should bring you a little closer to where you want to be.
To help you do this, every time you sit down to practice guitar, ask yourself: ‘What specifically do I intend to achieve or improve by the time I finish practicing today?’ This is a very different approach to mindlessly practicing ‘X’ number of exercises and ‘Y’ number of times at ‘Z’ pace.
The former focuses on moving strategically toward a big-picture goal and challenges you to maximize the effectiveness of every minute of your training. The latter approach leads to dead ends and a lot of frustration because you simply go through the motions with your mind on autopilot.
Holding yourself accountable for specific results in your practice is key to making faster progress.
5. How to Practice Guitar – Practice Anyway
Even when your guitar practice time is very limited, you should ‘practice anyway’. Don’t let any amount of practicing time go to waste, no matter how small. Even 10-15 minutes of guitar practice is better than nothing (and everyone has at least 15 minutes during the day to practice).
Most importantly, if you follow the advice I’ve given you at other points in this article, you’ll get a lot of achievements in less time than you would have otherwise.
Now that you understand how to practice the guitar if you have limited time, do the following:
- Analyze your current approaches to guitar practice, and look for opportunities to improve your efficiency and effectiveness.
- Start implementing the tips in this article and the resources I’ve outlined into your daily guitar practice sessions and watch your progress soar!
Learn the Classical Guitar with a proven method. Join more than 15000 satisfied students.