There are as many ways of doing this as there people who play the guitar. As with any skill,
learning to play any musical instrument requires a degree of dedication which borders on the complete obsession to the exception of everything else
This little article offers some of what I’ve done over the years to maintain both my
skill levels but above all my interest.
Firstly when to practice and where: For many, their practice takes place in specific locations at certain times. This is a great way for beginners to commence. It gives you a physical
attachment both in time and space which you associate with practice.
So when you want to practice. Moving into that space tells the
subconscious mind it’s time to work.
How to practice: For many the focus will be attaining the specific skills needed to play the type of music they want to play. The basics such as learning chords, songs, guitar scales etc.
For me the best way to get results from my practice is to have a goal.
Something I want to get from a series of practice sessions.
However this something has to be usable and within my current skill level.
As an example, I want to play sweep picking and play it like Yngwie Malmsteen.
This will take quite a while to achieve if I have never studied it before.
So when it don’t happen after 5 minutes, do you give up.
By far the better option is to break the goal into bite size chunks.
Start off learning the proper techniques for both right and left hand. Practice primarily on those techniques. Expand those techniques by adding extra degrees of activity.
Start with two or three string picking and arpeggio patterns. Work these in single positions on the neck. Start to move these exercises around the neck, practice with different timings.
Broaden the practice by doing arpeggios up and down then neck.
Then over three, four, five and finally all six strings.
To sum up, have a goal for you practice session, if what your trying to work
requires time to acquire. Allow yourself a time period in which to accomplish it,
and treat it as you number one priority for those series of sessions.
What to practice: This very much depends on what you as the guitar playing wants to achieve.
Once again having a specific goal in mind helps. If it’s a particular song, then you learn
the chords and play those until the timing and rhythm are perfected to a point where you can physically play the song at will. It could be a guitar solo from your favourite song.
The same techniques apply. Have a set objective then treat it as the number one
priority for those series of practice and learning sessions.
How long to practice: This one is very much down to the time limits that can be spared
or even down to the physical abilities of the player. For me I can quite easily go for several days without even touching a guitar. Yet when I do get back into practice it is not unknown for me to be working three to four hours later. Some professionals practice for 7 to 8 hours daily.
In extreme cases 16 hours is not unknown. However for most people, their bodies
will let them know. Either through physical discomfort, or they start to loose interest.
The simplest way is when you are not enjoying it, then stop.
Minimum time to practice: Once again this will vary on the player. For some it will be 5 minutes, for others longer. Find your own rhythm, and you will find the right way for you.
Guitar practice encompasses many skills beyond the physical activity of simply playing the guitar.
Follow these methods and your practice time will be productive.
Have fun and rock