There’s one ugly truth about practicing guitar… it’s not always fun. In fact, sometimes it can be downright tedious. Obviously you need to do it to get better, but sometimes the idea of sitting down and playing scales or working through a difficult song can be nothing short of torture. We’ve all been there and, luckily, there are ways to make practice both fun and productive. Check out these five tips for turning boring practice sessions into a rewarding and enjoyable part of your day.
Does this sound familiar? You sit down to practice and waste time thinking about how you’re going to organize your session instead of actually playing. By the time you actually get down to practicing, you’ve got yourself jumping between warm-up exercises, songs and improvisation, which isn’t the most productive way to go about things. Rather than planning practice sessions on the fly, why not set up a structure that works for you and then stick to it? The benefit here is that you can balance the things you have to do with the things you like to do. For example, you may dread playing scales, so get those out of the way and then reward yourself with some time to improvise before you tackle that elusive Blues piece you’ve been trying to master.
Tip Two: Learn One New Thing: This is a great piece of advice that we hear from teachers over and over again. Challenge yourself to learn one new thing during your practice session. We’re not suggesting that you sit down and learn a new song every day — that is absolutely unrealistic. Rather, why not add a new scale to your repertoire, or explore some new strumming patterns? By adding variety, you’re spicing up your practice and making it a more rewarding experience.
Tip Three: Choose the Right Time and Place: Everyone has a time of day when they’re most productive. Try scheduling your practice sessions when you’re likely to feel relaxed, calm and ready to focus. For example, if you’re not a morning person, it doesn’t make sense to force yourself to sit down and play while you’re still half asleep. While this seems like a no-brainer, it really makes a huge difference. It’s impossible to enjoy a session you have to rush through, and who wants to feel like they’re cramming yet another obligation into their day?
On this same track, make sure you have a designated practice space that allows you to focus. Keep your guitar out, on a stand, in that space so you see it all of the time. This will not only remind you to practice, but will mentally connect you to that space as your designated guitar-practice area.
Tip Four: Give Yourself a Break: Give yourself permission to skip a day every once in a while. We’re not suggesting that you make a habit of blowing off practice but, sometimes, it helps to re-motivate you. A day off can be refreshing, and can re-inspire you if you find yourself in a practice rut.
Tip Five: Make Your Sessions Interactive: There are tons of online resources for guitarists, and a wealth of videos that you can play along with on sites like YouTube and JamPlay. Schedule some time in your practice sessions to explore new exercises and techniques by logging in and finding a style or teacher you like, and then using their lessons as a practice tool. This fresh material will make your lessons much more exciting and will keep you motivated to keep trying and mastering new things.
The simple fact that you have to practice doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. By choosing just one or two of these tips and implementing them into your practice sessions, you can shift the experience of practicing guitar from tedious to terrific. Enjoy!