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Guitar Practice Tips
Getting the most out of your guitar practice time
This page is for those who want to make the most of their practice time on the guitar or other instrument. People say that practice makes perfect, but the truth is that poor practice habits will only further reinforce bad technique. Here are some ideas to ensure you're getting the most out of your available practice time.
Set up your space
The first thing you need to do is set up a proper practice space within your home. You need somewhere that you will be able to practice without interruption. Having a dedicated practice space helps get you in the right frame of mind and allows you to give your full concentration to the task at hand.
You'll want to make sure you have everything you'll need at hand, your guitar, tuner, metronome, picks, stands, a recording device and computer if you use one in your music, and most importantly, a comfortable guitar friendly chair.
One more piece of advice, get a guitar stand and keep your guitar on it. Believe it or not, you're more likely to practice when you can see your guitar on the stand and just pick it up and play. Sometimes having to go into the case and get it seems like too much hassle, especially if you've only got a couple of free minutes.
Warm up properly
Your practice sessions will be more efficient if you take a few minutes to warm up properly at the beginning of each session. Start off slowly and play something well within your ability, just to get your fingers moving. Scale and chromatic exercises are great for this. Try playing different scales in different positions on the guitar. Avoid anything where you have to stretch uncomfortably and gradually increase the speed as you get warmed up. Always remeber that accuracy is more important than speed.
Record your practice
Recording your practice is an invaluable way to gain objective feedback to help you improve as a guitar player. It's difficult to listen to yourself and evaluate critically while you're playing. Hit the record button, play through a song you're working on and then play it back. Are you maintaining a steady tempo? Hitting all your notes cleanly? Any breaks between chords or single note passages? Does it sound musical? Would you be proud to have people hear it?
You don't need to have a professional sound studio to record your practice sessions, a plain old cassette recorder will do. For a little extra cash, a digital recorder is an excellent device for this task and most types will allow you to download to your computer for file storage or sharing.
Use your time wisely
Since we don't all have 8 or 10 hours a day available to play guitar ( don't we all wish!! ), it's important to use your time wisely and make the most of what we have. It's better to practice in regular short sessions, rather than practicing for a long stretch one day and then not getting back to it for a couple of days. I like to try to get a couple of short practice sessions a day. It's easier to just pick up the guitar for a few minutes when you get the chance than to try to schedule a long session which might be interrupted or delayed. It's also much easier to give your full concentration and effort in a short practice than a longer one.
A practice session for me has the following structure:
1) Warm up for a few minutes, run through some scales ( chromatic, major, minor, pentatonic etc. ) in different positions on the neck.
2) Play through a couple of easy, well known songs as a continuation of the warm up and to reinforce the muscle memory on these songs.
3) Work on technical exercises, or difficult songs which require the most concentration and effort.
4) Finish off with some favourite songs or exercises to end the session with a good feeling and have fun.
Making the most of your practice sessions will help you to make progress as an artist, enjoy yourself more and take your guitar playing to the next level!
What kind of music do you play?
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I'd love to hear any questions, comments or feedback you have!