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Creating a Guitar Practice Routine

The Key to Being a Better Guitar Player

Everyone dreams of becoming a great guitarist, but the fact is not everyone can hack it. Not everyone will become a pro. Most beginner guitarists won't even come close. In reality, they'll never move beyond beginner level.

Kind of sad, really, because even just a few minutes of quality, disciplined practice exercises everyday can make you a king or queen of the fretboard. This article will walk you through exactly what you need to do in order to create the perfect guitar practice routine to ensure your success.

How to Practice the Guitar Effectively

The truth is, patience is a killer. Many guitarists simply aren't patient enough to keep practicing. Sure, you can dream of greatness all you want, but if you give up at the slightest hint of difficulty, you aren't going anywhere.

It doesn't have to be that way. But, you know that you won't improve if you don't practice. You need to be mentally focused. Put aside your ego for a second and accept that guitar playing is not always mad licks, solos that shred, and big fat guitar riffs that make the crowd pump.

Sometimes, learning guitar is far, far less than exciting. Hours practicing scales, arpeggios, alternate picking, strumming (and other elements of rhythm guitar); Intense focus, over and over; practice until you can play it all in your sleep!

The Mental Skills of Playing Guitar

It might be easy to feel overwhelmed by everything there is to do if you want to play guitar. Just remember, though, that everyone started in the same place and had to go through the same steps. Every guitar legend that ever was and ever will be needed to and will always need to practice.

There are simply no short-cuts. Every one of your guitar idols was once where you are now. They learned the mental discipline to do what needed to be done. Grit, determination, focus, and patience. That's the real secret.

The first step to putting together an effective practice schedule, a routine that works, is to work as much on mental training as building skill and speed in your hands – especially considering the pain that you'll feel in your fingers for the first few months.

Decide What You Want... Then Start Practicing!

If you want to be good at playing the guitar, you not only need to have discipline. It's also important to know what you want to achieve. You can play as much as you like, but unless you have a routine that will get you working on what you need to be working on, you're just going to go around in circles and possibly ingraining bad habits.

Don't just throw together some random scales and chord progressions, an arpeggio or two, maybe a few other general guitar practice tips you read in some guitar mags, wrap it all up in some improvisation, and hope for the best.

Most beginner guitarist strum away aimlessly for a little while before giving up. That's because they have no goals. No direction in which to move. They're just diddling around wasting hours and hours a day and going nowhere.

They might even be taking lessons or following a series of top-notch video tutorials or whatever. But unless they know what they'd like to achieve and by when, they're not really going anywhere.

If this is you, then you need to decide right now whether you want to up the ante and take your guitar playing more seriously – and actually achieve something worthwhile, something that will make people look at you in a different way – or whether you're happy to just keep noodling away forever in your bedroom.

So... what's your goal?

The Guitar Wizard

Making Time to Practice

First off, decide how much time can you put aside every day to practice: 10 minutes? 30 minutes? It's very important to be realistic and not over-commit yourself to too many hours per day or even too many days per week (there might be a perfectly good reason why you really can't practice every day).

Whatever the case may be, "lock in" a regular time to practice so that you can fully concentrate without getting interrupted. I recommend that you make this time-slot after you've completed all your daily tasks (cleaning the house, walking your dog, doing your homework, etc.) so that your mind will be fully invested into your practice sessions.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, you won't be stressed out, thinking "I really need to be doing (something else)" And, secondly, there won't be any reason for other people to interrupt you and ask "Have you done (such-and-such) yet?"

Also, pick a spot where you can be sure no one is going to interrupt your practice guitar work out session. Letting your family or housemates know when your regular practice time is and then putting a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door might help to avoid all but the most serious interruptions.

Using a timer can help to keep you focused, as well. I happen to love this little utility: Cool Timer (for Windows only, I think. Sorry Mac users!) Just select the sound you want it to make, choose the size (there's a really BIG display so you can see how much time you've got left), and hit "Start!" This will help you to avoid wasting time.

[Sidenote: When practicing scales, for example, using a metronome to keep the tempo is a good idea. Check out this Online Metronome.]


Creating Your Guitar Practice Routine

Spend some time to create a proper workout. A procedure that can be practiced at regular intervals. It might also be a good idea to make each "block" or "series" of practice schedules/routines/exercises for a set period, such as 60 days.

That way you can keep a guitar practice diary to track your weekly progress, vary part of your routine as you perfect certain things, and note your improvement at the end of that set period. This will help to keep you focused as well as increasing your motivation.

Get yourself a proper scale practice routine and focus on strumming patterns using a simple chord progression you know (it's more about the right hand in these exercises). Spend extra time working on your weak points. Ignore your ego. Correct your mistakes and what you're doing sloppily. Be disciplined about this in every practice session.

Practice is not the most exciting time of the week, but try to enjoy yourself rather than thinking of it as a chore. Every technique that you perfect is another string in your professional bow, so to speak. Try new things. Have some fun.

Following a clearly laid out guide with simple steps and checklists, how long it should take to achieve certain goals, and so on is easily the best way to become a real musician rather than just one more of the millions of bedroom players out there.

Perfect Practice

Practicing the guitar needs a plan and the focus and discipline to pull it off. If you want to learn to play, there's no other way around it. Learning how to practice is, in itself, a necessary mental skill if you ever want to be a killer guitarist.

You need to be very clear about what you want. Then set aside regular practice time. Then make a practice session (or series of routines) and a way to record your progress, making sure that you're not jumping ahead; that you're covering every item properly and thoroughly, with determination and focus.

In short, learning to be a master guitarist boils down to regular practice and sticking to the game plan.

Best of luck with it,
Chris

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