Four Steps to Turbo Charge Your Guitar Practice

Published: 05th July 2011
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Every guitar player wants to improve. Becoming a good aguitar player takes practice. How's your guitar playing? Are you where you want to be? How's your guitar practice? Are you making progress? Are you improving?

If you're playing progress has stalled, even though you practice guitar diligently. You may not be practicing effectively. You need to start guitar practice with a purpose.

These four steps will help you make the most of your guitar practice. Use them and watch your guitar-playing skills soar.

Four Steps for Guitar Practice With a Purpose

1. Set Some Measurable Goals

Where do you want to go with your playing? Sit down with a pad and pencil and write down specifically where you want to be as a player. Don't rush, this may or may not be obvious.

Don't be afraid to set some big, long-range goals. These could be anything from playing in an arena with your rock band, to being good enough to join in at the next bluegrass jam session. You don't need to limit yourself to one goal.

Next, given your long-range goals, set some measurable short-range goals that will lead you to the big ones. Look to set a challenge that you can realistically attain over the next six to 12 months. For example:

* Goal: Play guitar in a local blues band. Action: work through the book, Blues You Can Use, and complete it in six months.
* Goal: Audition for a local rock band. Action: Master 20 rock standards (rhythm and lead) by year's end.

For each goal, set a specific deadline that fits your practice schedule.

2. Schedule Your Weekly Practice. Based on available practice time, set up a schedule for a typical week. If you work Monday through Friday, your schedule might look something like this:

* Monday - Thursday: Practice two hours each day.
* Friday: Practice one hour.
* Saturday - Sunday: Practice three hours each day.

That's 15 hours of guitar practice per week.

Next allocate specific time for each goal, based on your priorities:

Blues You Can Use -- 7 hrs/week.
Rock Repertoire of 20 songs -- 5 hrs/week.
My Weekly Guitar lesson -- 3 hours/week.

3. Chart Your Guitar Practice.
Keep track of your weekly practice. If you sit down for 20 minutes with Blues You Can Use, log the day and time. You don't need a fancy log book, or even a notepad, scratch paper will do. You'll want to tally your totals at the end of the week.

At week's end review the log. Did you put in the time you had scheduled? Maybe you realize Thursdays are typically hectic and you need to scale back an hour on Thursdays. That's fine, you want a realistic schedule that you can stick to. For any adjustment to your schedule, alter your goal deadlines accordingly.

The schedule is not set in stone. In fact, expect to make adjustments. Just be sure to adjust your goal deadlines accordingly.

Note: Everyone has special-event weeks when you can't put in the practice time. That's normal, forget about those. Just look to get back on schedule the next week.

4. Track Your Progress, Record Yourself.
Every two weeks, record a piece of music that you're working on. This is not meant to be a performance-level recording. You want an honest assessment of where you're currently at.

To record, get warmed up. Start the recorder and start playing. Don't stop until you're all the way through with the piece. If you flub up in the middle, just keep on going. Do this for three sessions. Keep the best session, and save it.

Two weeks later, record the same piece, with the same method. Compare both versions? How much have you improved? Listen critically. Spot specific areas where you need work. Pay particular attention to these areas during this week's practice.

Purposeful Guitar Practice Makes Perfect
With these guitar practice tools, you will know where you want to get to as a player, and how you're going to get there. Plus, you'll know if you're on schedule.

So next time you pick up your guitar, don't just practice guitar. Practice guitar with purpose.

Jim Dunkerley helps guitar players of all levels improve their playing. Learn how to effectively practice guitar. Visit: http://www.makeguitarmusic.com.

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