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5 Things You Probably Don’t Do (But Should) When You Practice Guitar

NOTE: Want to see how JamPlay helps you get way better at guitar? Try it free for 7 days! Click here to grab a no-hassle trial now.

1: You need to have a goal when you practice guitar.

Get a song, a guitar hero, even a riff… and work towards mastering it.

It helps with the repetition aspect of practicing.

It also trains your ear.

You compare what you’re playing to what you’re trying to replicate.

But don’t expect to sound like Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton immediately.

That’s a mistake and will kill your motivation. You’re in it for the long run.

2: Make a commitment and be consistent.

Look, you need to practice at least 30 minutes per day. But it doesn’t have to be all at once.

Eventually you should WANT to practice longer each day. This happens when you follow step 1.

Oh and avoid those weekend only, marathon sessions. They’re actually counter-productive.

3: Structure your practice.

Start each practice session on a positive note. Then review what you’ve previously worked on.

Next, move on to deliberate practice. This is where you work on your weaknesses.

Try to always learn something new with every session. This will prevent you from hitting a plateau.

And then finish on a positive note. Play your favorite riffs and songs for a few minutes.

(NOTE: Want to get good at guitar? Grab your 100% FREE trial to JamPlay: Click here)

4: Repetition is your friend.

Again, make sure to practice your weaknesses more than your strengths.

If you can play 90% of a solo or song up to speed. Focus on the 10% that gives you trouble.

Make it a loop, start slow on the metronome and build it up to speed. It sounds simple but most people don’t do this!

That’s not you right?

5: Review yourself honestly.

Record yourself playing a piece that you’re working on.

Then sit the guitar down and listen critically to what you are doing.

It might sound like too much to bother with but do it. You’ll be amazed at how you can hear things when you aren’t focused on playing.

This is a must for ANY guitar player.

Join the conversation below and tell us what you think!

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58 Comments  comments 

58 Responses

  1. Steve Grout

    Start out firstwarming up with scales and hanons in all keys and all 3 main positions (C, F, and Bb) Avoid any warmup practice using open fingering. And start slow and slow speed up. Get them right Be sure to play both up and all the way back down.

  2. Deniz

    Which headphone is that?

  3. Len

    Great lesson. Looking forward to more.

  4. Jim Duling

    Hi Jim,

    I liked your ”Five Things You Probably Didn’t When You Practice”. Very informative and good advice. I’m a 70-year old beginner (been playing about eight months) so I gladly will take your advice

    • Hey Jim, thanks for leaving a comment. It’s never too late to start learning guitar! Come check out our members area sometime. Many of our members are 50+

    • Jim S.

      Thanks for the instruction to Jim. Thanks for the encouragement to the author of the note. I’m a 66-year-old beginner, and was beginning to think it was laughable to start this in my ‘Golden Years.’

  5. I’m pushing 70 and just getting started as a musician. I really appreciate the advice from seasoned players. Some things may seem obvious but really aren’t, like the need for structured practice. Other points aren’t intuitive at all, like short practice sessions daily instead of marathon sessions weekly. Good to know. I’ve noticed a difference in my progress already.

  6. Gerry Nason

    A big part of learning, be it in person or via video, is liking the person who is communicating the information to you. Jim Deeming has an easy going, comfortable style in dispensing information. He doesn’t rush the pace and constantly reviews points he made previously, to be sure your attention span absorbed and retained the information. I’d feel totally comfortable being taught by this man.

  7. James

    A lot of great advice, thanks.

  8. Denny

    watch and listen to Tommy Emmanual CGP .he will inspire you !!!!!

  9. Hi Jim great advice and you’ve inspired me to give the guitar a real go so thank you for that, not sure about payment or if the site is open to UK residents, can you advise or get someone to mail me. Thanks

  10. Patrissi

    Jim I’m retired and just picked up the guitar. I enjoy my practices and all the information you put out. I guess according to your suggestion I’m putting to much time in. I just can’t wait to be able to play. My fingers have toughened up and my hands are getting stronger. Is it counter productive to play 3-4 hrs. a day. I’ve been playing about 7 weeks.

  11. Renald Milliard

    Je ne comprends l’anglais, I’m not speek english sorry!

  12. charlotte

    Enjoyed the valuable information, thanks!

  13. Eddie Wholley

    Thanks for that. Im still a newbe at three years into guitar. i totaly enjoy playing and learning. i am 60 yrs old, and i love my new hobby. i do practice a lot and at times get very frustrated .
    and always wonder if i practice correctly. Your video was very helpful. thank You.

  14. Rick Guerrier

    This is great, I may be 11 but this could help advance in guitar!

  15. Brilliant Aaron, I am 82 years young and may I say that I have not heard as much common sense spoken in many, many years. I feel a better player already and I do not think that I am to old. I will just keep on and on and on. Thank you so much Aaron, My kindest regards.
    Colin

  16. Widdy

    Hi I am a advanced guitar player, singer working as a full time musician. I am self taught by friends or family also. Just looking to see what I may have missed in the beginning of my learning years. I must say your video here is very true to every point about being able to play everything a hundred or more times before it really sink’s in. Great Video!!! Mahalo

  17. John

    Very informative and inspirational , great to see other ” oldies ” having ago , I am 66 yo and have not picked up a guitar for around 45 years but I would like to give my grandchildren some enjoyment ( and impress them ) .Your video will be a big help .Thanks so much.John

    • Maryl

      Hi John, your post could have been written by me, except I’m a 67-year-old grandmother. Glad to see there are so many oldsters on Jamplay!

  18. David G. Cram Sr.

    Hi, I have been trying to play for 40+ years from all sort of players. Most of the time they are showing me how good they are and what they can do. I took professional lessons, that were to far to keep traveling. I’m being told what to do only not shown. I’m always told to practice scales. And learn the fret board, learn boxes, learn timing by tapping foot. Good lord i am so confused that i have no idea where to start and why. I am also told that i have no rethem? Have not got the voice for songs. What i have learned was chord A,C,G,D,E. Don’t know where to use them, with a song being played on DVD. I like older country music, am told got to learn Blues in order to learn country. IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR A DISGRUNTED OLD TIMER. Thanks, Dave one of many disabled Veteran brothers.

    • Gene

      Don’t know what may have worked for you since you posted this, but I’ve been playing since 1962, and had dreams of making it as a singer song writer in the 60’s. Then life got in the way. While there’s many great online instruction, and DVD’s , and even though I consider myself above average, I needed to find a human to teach me. When I first contacted him I told him my goals. From that info, he tailors my lessons to improve in the areas I wanted to. We’ve gotten to the point where I start my lessons discussing two or three things that I would like to improve or learn. So instead of throwing out ” learn all the boxes” , learn this, learn that, we concentrate on small areas. You don’t have to learn Blues to play old country, but by learning the basic 1/4/5 blues chord progression, you can apply that to country, especially old country. Learn the so called “cowboy chords” then you can play in all different keys. 1/4/5 examples- with 1 being the key you’re playing in, you could play a typical country song in c/f/g7, g/c/d7, A/d/e7, e/a/b7etc. Once your ear gets use to it, you then could play it in a key that works for your voice. The sky’s the limit. Good luck!

  19. Donald Turcott

    Thanks Jim, just got my 1st guitar and your lesson about the 5 things I should be doing when practicing will be a big help. I like the idea of keeping it small, start with something you like, learn something new and finish with something you can play, great positive feedback. Apparently 61 is not too old to try this thing, so here we go

  20. Love all the input. Where do I find the answers to the questions people are asking.

  21. I started playing when I was 15. I bought my Martin D28 when I returned from Vietnam combat in 1972. The Martin is pre-truss and I have a letter from CF Martin junior concerning the woods and manufacture of the guitar. If I could enclose an attachment I would show you the 3 guitars that I own. The Martin, a Guild 12 and a 1927 Stetson.

    The Marin has seen me through PTSD, drugs and sobriety. All I need to do is finger pick “In My Life” and I am in a sweet, sweet place.

    I am a retired professional photographer and music by Martin has always been a huge part my life and sanity.

  22. Gord

    Thanks, this is all good stuff! I,ve played at playing for many years,and yes I flattened out years ago, but your intro has reinspired me,think I,ll pull that ole axe out tomorrow! Lookin forward to more-Thanks

  23. Mark P

    I have been a guitar player since I was a teen. I wasn’t very good and began to play bass with my pals. I was drawn into being a roadie with friends who were doing well but needed a strong guy with a car who could handle the PA by keeping the sound balanced and lighting system or change a string or a drum skin between sets. I bought an old acoustic and began to slowly learned chords and simple solos. With big meaty hands it was hard to play barre chords and I didn’t improve until I began to work at it at least two days a week. Now I know the shapes you have in your ‘cheat sheet’ but I do get satisfaction playing favorites from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I play occasionally with a band and I am working to simplify my efforts in playing chords well and not missing notes. At age 65 it give me a lot of pleasure to play for my wife and friends making music that sounds pretty good. I still play bass guitar occasionally. What I need more than anything else is regular practice and time to learn a few lead solo riffs. I travel for business a lot and miss practice while I am away. I have a catalog of almost 1000 songs with lyrics. There is hope for anybody who is willing to put some meaningful effort into practice as often as you can

  24. Hunter

    Thanks aaron!!

  25. Brandi

    Thank you! That was great. I am female, 62 and ready to embark on something that I haven’t gotten to do until now. The video made perfect sense. I have a Johnson that I bought for 25 dollars and a friend who is VERY knowledgeable about guitar told me that it would be Ok for me to learn on, up to about a year, if I practice regularly. Then I will want something better so that I can hear the songs as they are meant to be heard. What say you?

  26. Al

    I practice at least 2 hours a day, sometimes 2 in morning an 2 at night

  27. RAVI N PRASAD

    HI THIS IS RAVI FROM BANGALORE,INDIA,
    THANKS A TON FOR THE TIPS IT WAS OF GREAT HELP,KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MATE!!!!!!!!!

  28. Frederick Ahne

    Very clear direction on how to practice. How do you select a guitar hero when your hero is well on there way to be a superstar (for example my favorite guitarist is Jimmy Page) but how do I gain experience when his songs are complicated.

  29. Mike Hernandez

    Hey Jim,
    Really great advice for any aspiring guitar player. It felt like you were speaking directly to me. Unfortunately for me, it may be late in coming. I am now 79 years old and on top of that, some time ago I had an accident with my table saw in which I severed the tendons on my index and middle fingers of my right hand. The surgery that followed left me with both fingers not being very “flexible”.
    In the past. K have purchased guitar courses from “Learn & Master Guitar”, “Starland Guitar”, “Marty Schwartz”, “Dan Denley”, “Next Level Guitar”, and another 12 to 15 DVD’s. I think it’s time for me to permanently hang up my two acoustic, two classical and my one electric guitar and give up the ghost! Thanks for the free lessons from Jam Play that I have received thus far!!
    Sincerely,
    Miguel (Mike) Hernandsez

  30. pete leaton

    Thanks for indepth information i’ve got it repetition repetition repetition.

  31. Joe Sharp

    Very helpful and great reminders!

  32. Charles H Herron

    Hey Jim,
    Those are 5 good tips for practicing.
    I started when I was about 12 years old on a Montgomery Wards guitar western style (steel strings) that should have been a classical guitar because of the amount of frets.
    Well today I am 61 and still trying to learn using the same tips. I have never used the record yourself method because I lose my train of thought. I have an inward metronome built in so I haven’t got that either.
    I took one set of lessons in my life of 8 basic lessons so I guess being self taught is my way. I have purchased various learn guitar courses but I always seem to forget to use them. It would probably be the same with jAM Play. I pick something here and something there thanks to the internet and repetition, repitition and more repetition….till it sounds somewhat tolerable.
    I am still playing the first songs I learned 49 years ago. Talking about repettion.
    Thanks
    Charlie

  33. Joseph DuVall

    Thanks for the simplicity. I’m looking forward to getting started and moving on to more

  34. I too am a late bloomer (60 yrs old). Found your 5 steps very informative and am feeling better about tackling this. Many thanks!

  35. philipa

    I found this just at the right time. I have been having a hard time to practise but…thanks this is a good tool.

  36. Egip Behluli

    Very helpful even for older people,thanks.

  37. Markwalesuk

    Cheers for the advice

  38. don

    Hey man,i’m one of those who’s been playing for 60 + yrs and still can’t play good! I liked your video! I’d like to see more.I’ve been asked to play in a group,but i don’t have the confidence.

  39. what a great video have been taking lessons and I’m 65 played many years ago and gave it up and you and my teacher say about the same things really enjoyed the video.

  40. Dan

    I’m just finding JamPlay and I have to say I like what I’ve seen so far. I’m 58 and my hands have done a lot of hard work over the years and I want to ask a question about dexterity and loosening up the fingers before practice or playing? I’m one of those that loved playing guitar for years and life caused me to put the guitar aside for about 10 years and now I find it difficult to get “warmed up” and my head knows where to the fingers should go but getting them there is kinda tough for about 15 or 20 minutes of practice before my hands loosen up enough to play fluently. What are some good techniques to get the old blood flowing, so to speak, in the fingers and joints?

  41. Dwight Bird

    Jim’s might be the best beginning guitar video I’very ever watched. Talk about polished. Did Jim ever work in the building trades. He’s got that straight to the point, no nonsense demeanor that the best Forman have. So Aaron, I ‘m a long time player, who took a lot of years off to raise a family, but I’ve been back at it pretty steady the last 7 years, playing in a couple bands, gigging a little, and wanting to start teaching. I’m getting ready to retire and playing and teaching is how I’d like to spend my retirement. Which is why I’m exploring the new plethora of Web based tools. Your site obviously has some great instructors and materials. For this old bird however, the blitzkrieg email marketing is a turn off, just thought you should know before I Unsubscribe.
    Dwight Bird

  42. Lloyd Plueschow

    Great video – very informative. Thank you!

  43. Jean-Yves Pelletier

    Thank you. I will keep these five “rules” in mind.

  44. jim osborn

    thanks for the practice tips I work hard on five rules.

  45. William

    I have been checking out JamPlay for about three weeks and have learned a bunch. I just watched this video and have just started to learn the guitar. Never having owned a guitar and stating to learn at (81) my age is a challenge. Am taking lessons but seem to learn more just reading and watching JamPlay. Thanks,

  46. Marlow H. Shubert

    Thoroughly enjoyed the video. Have been playing for years, but laid the guitar down for years, but am trying to get back in the groove, as they say. Thanks much Marlow

  47. I enjoyed your video Jim.
    But my question would be.
    Many instructors show strumming patterns
    But they never give or suggest any songs to accompany them

    Does your course???
    Laurence

  48. Bobbie martin

    Thanks Jim: Really enjoyed the lesson. Very clear & understandable. Can’t wait for the next one:-)

  49. Martin Williams

    Thanks to Aaron and Jim. For a pensioner aged 69 your video contained everthing i wanted to hear about an adult learning guitar. I wish i had this information a few years back when i was struggling to progress.

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