Just like many things in life, we need to work at a task in order to get good at it. What a drag, hey? Maybe one day there will be a ‘guitar pill’ and they will have the Slash pill the Kirk Hammet pill and more…
Ok, so until then we gotta spend time on the guitar between lessons. Or maybe you’re going the youtube route and learning on your own (Make sure to sign up for my FREE video series – ‘The cures to the common mistakes guitarists make when learning on youtube’). So you’re probably wondering ‘how often should I practice?’ or ‘how long do I practice for?’ or have you ever wondered ‘WHAT do I practice?’.
So whether you purchase one of online video lesson series, have a lesson with me 1 on 1 on skype or in person, this is what I share with all of my students…
you only have to practice for 5 minutes a day
Now, this works the best with my teaching method and system, but even if you aren’t taking one of my programs this will be hugely beneficial for you. I’ll tell you how it works;
So what you need to do is find those pockets in your day – those 5, 10, 15, or 20 min time zones – before work, after work, before dinner, between meetings, before bed etc etc… the ‘inbetween doing stuff’ areas of your day. We all have them! Unless you’re Brad Pitt on a movie set or Bill Gates or something…sorry, no excuses!
So you arrive at the ‘inbetween doing stuff time zone’ in your day and what you’re going to say to yourself is this:
“I’m only going to play guitar for 5 min”
The trick here is just sitting down and putting a guitar in your lap. Now you’re there and you’re going to set a timer if you’re on a real tight schedule or at least watch the clock. At the end of the 5 minutes here’s what you’re going to ask yourself:
“Do I have to go? Or can I play for a bit longer?”
This next step is up to your discretion because I was the one who got your ass in the chair! But this will get THE MOST IMPORTANT THING HAPPENING which is playing the guitar and making time for it.
Ok so good work! you’re playing guitar on a regular basis. Daily infact! Now, we gotta figure out how to squeeze the juice out of these practice sessions so that we’re using our time effectively.
Here is a standard format for a practice session:
1)Warm-up with a metronome
You can google search a metronome, get them on your smartphone, and of course get them from a music store. I would suggest an E or A minor pentatonic scale for you beginners out there. You need to really lock those notes that you’re picking into each click on the metronome. Excuse me for getting all jedi on you, but – you must be one with the click.
More advanced players, check out a G major scale (play the following scale starting at the 3rd fret) Here’s a good way to think of the scale: http://bit.ly/PgBjJ9 – notice the stretches – do NOT use your 3rd finger! Yup, TAKING OUR FINGERS TO THE GYM!
2) Play a song that you know. Maybe you don’t know many songs, but pick a song that you’re the most confident with and play that to warm-up even further.
3)TROUBLE AREAS. Ok, we’re warmed up, did a little working out and now we have to do some perfection of some guitar-isms!
You know those sections of a riff or a song or a lick that are causing some problems? That one chord change that you stumble over, EVERY TIME? And if it wasn’t for that damn chord change, the song would sound pretty good?
Yup. THAT’S the part you want to focus on.
Many of my students don’t recognize these sections their struggling with sometimes though. So really perk up your ears and peel your eyes for those trouble areas. We’ve all had that one chord change that’s just a beotch to get a grip on. So let’s take those 2 chords, whatever they may be and play it over, and over, and over and over and 1 time for good luck.
Try this say: ‘I’m going to play these 2 chords back and forth 10 times” – Then after 10 – “And one for good luck!”
Repetition is the only way! Although, we’re talking about honing in on a very small area and repeating a very small section of a song.
For me personally, lately I’ve been learning this crazy Big Wreck solo from the song “A Million days”. I’ll work on a lick over and over that is LITERALLY ½ OF A SECOND LONG from the track. I will put that to a metronome and repeat and repeat and slowly speed it up. Also, it’s important to note here – to NEVER repeat something over and over that you’re playing poorly. Unless you want to sound terrible that is! Truthfully, you’re practicing playing badly!!
4) See if you can introduce something new
Keeping things fresh is the name of the game and it’s obvious how this will be the 1 thing that gets you moving forward.
If it’s simply a chord you haven’t played before, or a tabbed out riff or a new song this is the kinda stuff I want you to be hunting down!
Simply from here you can track down the new “trouble parts” and go back to step #3.
5) Keep track!
Keeping a log book of your progression is a great way to remind you what you need to practice and will also keep track of your speeds with a metronome. Or another method of practicing is using a cool music slow downer program like the Amazing Slow downer by ronimusic.com.
IN CONCLUSION: Great guitarists have some kind of knack for details. It’s no exception when we are playing guitar. The small details are the lead determining factor that will separate a beginner from a pro. Now of course there are a lot of small details, but if you just repeat step #3 on these trouble areas, you can work through these and start being a better player right away.
AND! Don’t forget to ONLY PLAY GUITAR FOR 5 MIN A DAY!
Here to help you play better!
Keep on rippin it up,