If you are not sure what to practice on your guitar, then you are in the right place. I will tell you how I go about planning my guitar practice routine and how you can incorporate that into your own. Any guitarist at any level can benefit from this.
For the ease of reading, I am breaking this broad discussion into a few parts.
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Setting a Target
Part 3 – Tools & Resources
Let’s be honest, we don’t always have a routine to practice guitar.
Out of the blue, you are inspired by a video on Instagram or youtube, pick up your guitar and start shredding, only to realize that you haven’t practiced in a while and your fingers are rusty. The enthusiasm or motivation usually dies out if you are ready to commit to a routine but don’t have one. Happens to me too, you’re not alone. So, I came up with a simple routine to help me practice depending on how much time I have in a day.
The Elements of Guitar Practice
Let’s get right to it. What should you practice on the guitar?
Set a target, and practice till you reach that target with perfection. I usually set my targets for a week. I don’t always achieve them on time but I try my best. For me, a target can be learning a solo or the entire song. If something is too complicated, I usually break them down into smaller parts which makes the process a bit longer but much easier.
Everyone has different goals and levels of experience. So, there is no one single practice routine that will meet your requirements. I made a four-block method to decide what I am going to practice depending on how much time I have.
00 – 05 Minutes – Block 1 (Earth)
If 5 minutes a day is all you have to practice your guitar, just stick to warm-up exercises. It will help you from getting rusty. Dedicate 5 minutes to practice warm-up finger exercises every day for a week, you will notice a significant difference.
05 – 15 Minutes – Block 2 (Wind)
If you have 5-10 minutes in a day to practice. Start with a warmup for 2-4 minutes, then practice the smallest chunk of your target with your metronome set to way slower than you can play it currently. If you are learning something new that you never played before, you can get started at half tempo. Practice that for about two minutes non-stop. Increase your tempo 50-100% of your current tempo and try to play that for about a minute. Then slow down but keep it above where you started. Depending on how much time you have, do a few cycles and try to increase your tempo a little bit for each cycle.
15 – 30 Minutes – Block 3 (Water)
My practice sessions usually fall in this block. If you have extra time, you can add a few more things. I often jam with backing tracks for 5-10 minutes after a 10 – 15 minutes of block 2. Youtube is a great source of free backing tracks.
30 – 60 Minutes – Block 4 (Fire)
If your goal is to learn something perfectly or get to an enviable skill level, you probably need to practice at least 30 to 60 minutes every day till you achieve that. If you have the time you can increase the length of your block 2 items. In addition to that, add other types of skill development exercises to your practice routine. For example, ear training, music theory, exploring chords, scales, modals, working on your tone, optimizing your gear performance, the list goes on.
You don’t have to practice for an hour or more every day. But you’ll probably not reach or achieve much progress if you only practice 5 minutes a day. The idea is to utilize your time effectively and be able to at least pick up the instrument once a day. You will have to adjust your time depending on your target and how soon you want to reach it. The more you practice, the sooner you reach your target.
4 Simple Guitar Practice Tips
Now that you have an idea of what to practice, here are a few tips you should always apply to your practice sessions.
Start with a warmup
Warming up your fingers every day is a great way to keep your joints healthy and protect them from injuries. Also, warmup exercises help you maintain your skill levels. You should always start playing the instrument with at least a couple minutes of warm-up.
Don’t confuse performance with practice
When you are performing on stage, recording in the studio, or shooting a video for Instagram, you cannot consider that as practice. You need to practice, to be able to perform flawlessly and with confidence.
Always use a metronome
Metronome is your friend. Metronome in a way works like your workout weights. If you are pumping your biceps or chest at the gym, you increase your weight progressively. A metronome can work similarly for your guitar practice. As you work on a lesson or a piece, start playing around with your tempo and dominate them all.
Keep track of your practice
It is very important to keep track of your progress. I often write down notes and also keep track of my speed when I am working on something specific. You can use a physical notebook or a digital tool, the choice is yours. I prefer mine online.
In the END, what you practice is completely dependent on what you set as your target. In the next article, I will talk about how to effectively set a target for your practice.
Please feel free to let me know in the comments what you are going to practice today or how you approach planning your practice routine. You can connect with me via the following links to get notified when I publish the next post.
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