Music Lessons
September 16, 2022

How Should You Practice? Here is a Basic Guideline + Extra Tips

Young teen getting taught how to play electric guitar

How To Practice Effectively

 

The human body learns and develops in a specific way. The term “everybody learns differently” is only half true. There are tried, tested, and true methods for improving your guitar techniques and abilities. This method doesn’t apply to understanding theory concepts and is mostly focused on muscle memory, agility, coordination, and pattern memory.

How many times per week should I practice?

5 times per week is the goal, but 4 can also work for very busy students. 3 is the absolute minimum and should only be for those rare crazy busy weeks. Any less than this and you will not build the proper habit of practicing and your instrument will quickly become something you despise doing. Honestly!  

Schedule certain days and times to practice and stick to it no matter what!

Developing the habit to practice can be a bit tough at first. This is very true for absolute beginners because they can’t really play anything and have sore fingers. By setting up a routine to practice even when you don’t feel like it you will very quickly burst through those barriers and before long you have some killer calluses, and you know 15 songs.

Here is an example of a basic practice schedule:

·       Monday at 3:30

·       Tuesday at 3:30

·       Wednesday at 3:30

·       Thursday at 3:30

·       Friday at 3:30

Notice how they are all at the exact same time? This is on purpose and makes it harder to forget and easier to fall into the habit of practicing. Of course, your own schedule could look very different than this and may not allow for the same time every day. Either way, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for you to practice and have some sort of system in place.

How long should you practice for?

The length of practice will be different depending on your skill level and age. Here are some guidelines:

Beginner

  • 1-8 weeks = 10-15 mins each practice session
  • +8 weeks  = 20-25 mins each practice session

Intermediate

  • 30-45 mins each practice session

Advanced

  • 45-60 mins each practice session

These are just guidelines and your teacher may have some different suggestions for you.  

Keep your instrument visible

If it’s a guitar, ukulele or bass, then keep it on a stand and DO NOT keep it in a case. You will be very surprised at how more you will practice by investing in a small stand that keeps it visible.

Pro tip: wall-mounted guitar hooks to hang up your guitar look super cool and save a ton of space.  

What should I practice?

Your teacher should be keeping a paper journal that is left with you, or using a google doc that you have easy access to. Your current practice list should be on it, and you should be following it as per your teacher. If you are reading this and you don’t have a teacher, then keep your own journal and organize your sessions putting exercises first and songs last. Also keep track of any metrics like BPMs, speed % or other milestones and resources.

A journal will look very different from beginner to advanced depending on if you are learning songs, theory, improv playing, songwriting, performance, or a mixture of everything.

Here is what a beginner level typically looks like:

Here is what an intermediate or advanced level can look like:

 

Repeat, repeat, repeat!!

Never underestimate the power of repeating something. In the world of guitar it is the “Golden Rule”. Here are some tips for when repeating something:

  • Playing a song once or twice is not nearly enough. You are just getting warmed up! Give yourself a goal. Play the part or song10 times. Take a break, then 10 more
  • Learn and memorize small sections and phrases before moving on. If you are sight reading, then try not to memorize, but instead read directly from the page. Repetition is still very critical here.
  • If other members of your household or you are getting sick of the song then that means you are on the right track. Bonus points if it started off as being one of yours or their favorites songs, but they know hate it.

Never Give up!

No matter how impossible something seems, it will always surprise you how quickly you will get it when using the correct practicing methods. Things like “Barre Chords” take a while to master, and you need to play multiple songs with them in it just to get a good foundation, but you will always conquer them if you don’t give up. You only fail when you give up.

Those are some basic practice guidelines and tips. There will be an advanced guide coming in a future blog.

Reading this and don't have a teacher yet? Go Guitar Lessons specializes in sending teachers directly to your home in the Ottawa area. We also have virtual services and teach piano, bass, and ukulele. Register here for a trial lesson: www.goguitarlessons.com/free-trial

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