Guitar book banner image How to Practice
hours guitar practice 5 - 6 days of the week is better than spending all day, for one day. This is known as the spacing effect. If you are a beginner or thereabouts, you shouldn't be worried by the idea of practicing for hours a day, 30 minutes practice 5 or 6 days a week is fine, anymore might be overkill at this stage. Enthusiasm can grow over time, most successful guitarists who practice several hours a day would most probably not have started that way. If you start to feel that it's a strain physically or mentally and your playing becomes dull then this is not how to practice guitar; it is best to take a short break. When practicing new things it can go well but after a while the improvement can stop because full concentration can only last so long until you start to "switch off". Similarly don't be fooled into ending up confused at how you got something right the first time yet after a while your playing seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it's just that your hand is tired or your concentration is becoming exhausted. Try not to play constantly for more than 10 minutes without a small 1 - 2 minute break.
How to Practice Guitar
How much Guitar Practice? - This depends on your goals; the greater the goal the more work needed. Either way it is best not to cram too much practice into one session. 30 minutes practice 5 or 6 days a week is better than 2 - 3 hours in one day of the week. 2 - 3
How to practice guitar img1
After all in a gig / performance situation it is rare you would play constantly for that long without small breaks in between. Always pay attention to your fingers; if it hurts then stop, if your fingers feel like they are about to start "complaining" then have a break for a couple of minutes.  Patience can be fast - Being patient and having time for what might be called "serious boring stuff" is faster than being impatient, doing just the "fun" stuff and your playing not progressing. Let's say if you're a beginner and are uncertain how to practice guitar, rather than just playing around on the guitar with your favourite tunes for 30 minutes, try to spend the first 10 minutes doing technical exercises and/or scales to a metronome. This way you'll progress faster than if you just played the guitar for 30 minutes. Then the fun stuff becomes more fun because you are better at it rather than reaching a frustrating point where you feel you can't go any further.  Noticing your own progress might be harder, knowing that you are there every minute you practice for every small improvement. If you are practicing properly but feel you are not making enough progress, then someone else who hears your playing less frequently might feel you have progressed more because they will see the difference from month to month rather than every minute. Playing Music - A mistake that can be made is to try and play a piece how you want it to sound as opposed to playing it how you are actually able to play it. If you can't play a
whole piece well and consistently, you could isolate the more difficult parts and practice them to a metronome at a slower speed at which you can play accurately. As you get better bring it back up to speed until it fits in the song and you can play the whole thing consistently.  You can make more improvement in less time this way. The same applies to playing over a backing track; practice without it first. Likewise for scales, parts of a scale can be harder than other parts. Some might play the hard parts slower and the easier parts faster. For example with the minor pentatonic scale (one of the most used scales on the guitar), the notes on the lower strings might be harder to stretch to so a beginner might play them slower than the rest of the scale. If you learn and practice technical exercises/scales to a metronome you develop a sense of tempo and it trains you to play consistently, so play the entire scale at a speed you can play the most difficult part adequately. Playing at a speed too fast for your ability is not how to practice guitar and can actually be practicing at making mistakes, and that's not what you want to ingrain. Sense of timing is a skill in its own right - Sometimes less experienced players may tend to play too fast over a slower tempo i.e. a slower piece or a metronome set to a slow speed. Although this may seem contrary to earlier advice, it is often because they are playing to their technical ability rather than concentrating on actually playing in time. Technical ability on its own means little without a sense of timing. Having your own internal metronome can help keep rhythm, such as tapping your foot to a piece of music. General - 1. Always try to give yourself a slight challenge. Not too easy but not too hard either. This way you can make constant progress without getting frustrated or bored repeating the same things you already know. 2. Your own playing should satisfy you to a point that it becomes a positive reinforcement to guitar practice.  3. With something new, try to practice it until you are proficient before moving on. However if something is too hard it's best not to get frustrated, instead move on to something else. When you come back to it later you'll be better. 4. If you play what you already know, you aren't learning. Concentration is important when practicing. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. It's quality not so much quantity that counts! Some interesting facts about the brain in relation to Guitar Practice 1. The more we learn the better we become at learning. The brain generalizes, meaning that the better you become at a skill, the easier you pick up similar skills (reference just below right)...
Too   much   guitar   practice   can   mean   loss   of   contact   with the   outside   world   and   lack   of   awareness   of   fashion   at   the time. This is not how to practice guitar.  
Guitar practice img1
"These improvements showed evidence for meeting the main criteria for the value of behavioral training programs: generalization (to nontrained assessments) and maintenance (of the gains after the completion of training)." Mahncke HW, Connor BB, Appelman J, Ahsanuddin ON, Hardy JL, Wood RA, Joyce NM,Boniske T, Atkins SM, Merzenich MM. Memory enhancement in healthy older adults using a brain plasticity-based training program: a randomized, controlled study. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Aug 15;103(33):12523-8. Epub 2006 Aug 3. 2. Playing guitar is not only about left and right hand coordination but coordination of different fingers between the left and right hand.  Sometimes with my students I see a loss of coordination in one hand for
something that was previously second nature, when introducing something new for the other hand. For instance someone may have learnt to use their fretting hand proficiently on the fretboard using 3 or all 4 fingers, but only use a downward picking motion for their plucking hand. If attempting alternate picking (by using an upward picking motion also) the coordination of their fretting hand can regress. The reason for this is quite likely because the brain is efficient by wiring things together when they occur at the same time, so coordination of the fretting hand has been associated with the other hand downward picking, but not upward picking.  This can be frustrating but guitar practice often relies on modesty and learning new techniques as though a beginner, even if you have been playing a while (reference below)... "The general idea is an old one, that any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become 'associated', so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other." Hebb, D.O. The organization of behavior. Wiley & Sons: New York; 1949 (p.70) 3. Education increases the number of branches among neurons. "Education had a consistent and substantial effect such that dendritic measures increased as educational levels increased." Jacobs B, Schall M, Scheibel AB. A quantitative dendritic analysis of Wernicke's area in humans. II. Gender, hemispheric, and environmental factors. J Comp Neurol. 1993 Jan 1;327(1):97-111.
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How to Practice
How to Practice Guitar
How much Guitar Practice? - This depends on your goals; the greater the goal the more work needed. Either way it is best not to cram too much practice into one session. 30 minutes practice 5 or 6 days a week is better than 2 - 3 hours in one day of the week. 2 - 3 hours guitar practice 5 - 6 days of the week is better than spending all day, for one day. This is known as the spacing effect. If you are a beginner or thereabouts, you shouldn't be worried by the idea of practicing for hours a day, 30 minutes practice 5 or 6 days a week is fine, anymore might be overkill at this stage. Enthusiasm can grow over time, most successful guitarists who practice several hours a day would most probably not have started that way. If you start to feel that it's a strain physically or mentally and your playing becomes dull then this is not how to practice guitar; it is best to take a short break. When practicing new things it can go well but after a while the improvement can stop because full concentration can only last so long until you start to "switch off". Similarly don't be fooled into ending up confused at how you got something right the first time yet after a while your playing seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it's just that your hand is tired or your concentration is becoming exhausted. Try not to play constantly for more than 10 minutes without a small 1 - 2 minute break. After all in a gig / performance situation it is rare you would play constantly for that long without small breaks in between. Always pay attention to your fingers; if it hurts then stop, if your fingers feel like they are about to start "complaining" then have a break for a couple of minutes.  Patience can be fast - Being patient and having time for what might be called "serious boring stuff" is faster than being impatient, doing just the "fun" stuff and your playing not progressing. Let's say if you're a beginner and are uncertain how to practice guitar, rather than just playing around on the guitar with your favourite tunes for 30 minutes, try to spend the first 10 minutes doing technical exercises and/or scales to a metronome. This way you'll progress faster than if you just played the guitar for 30 minutes. Then the fun stuff becomes more fun because you are better at it rather than reaching a frustrating point where you feel you can't go any further.  Noticing your own progress might be harder, knowing that you are there every minute you practice for every small improvement. If you are practicing properly but feel you are not making enough progress, then someone else who hears your playing less frequently might feel you have progressed more because they will see the difference from month to month rather than every minute. Playing Music - A mistake that can be made is to try and play a piece how you want it to sound as opposed to playing it how you are actually able to play it. If you can't play a whole piece well and consistently, you could isolate the more difficult parts and practice them to a metronome at a slower speed at which you can play accurately. As you get better bring it back up to speed until it fits in the song and you can play the whole thing consistently.  You can make more improvement in less time this way. The same applies to playing over a backing track; practice without it first. Likewise for scales, parts of a scale can be harder than other parts. Some might play the hard parts slower and the easier parts faster. For example with the minor pentatonic scale (one of the most used scales on the guitar), the notes on the lower strings might be harder to stretch to so a beginner might play them slower than the rest of the scale. If you learn and practice technical exercises/scales to a metronome you develop a sense of tempo and it trains you to play consistently, so play the entire scale at a speed you can play the most difficult part adequately. Playing at a speed too fast for your ability is not how to practice guitar and can actually be practicing at making mistakes, and that's not what you want to ingrain. Sense of timing is a skill in its own right - Sometimes less experienced players may tend to play too fast over a slower tempo i.e. a slower piece or a metronome set to a slow speed. Although this may seem contrary to earlier advice, it is often because they are playing to their technical ability rather than concentrating on actually playing in time. Technical ability on its own means little without a sense of timing. Having your own internal metronome can help keep rhythm, such as tapping your foot to a piece of music. General - 1. Always try to give yourself a slight challenge. Not too easy but not too hard either. This way you can make constant progress without getting frustrated or bored repeating the same things you already know. 2. Your own playing should satisfy you to a point that it becomes a positive reinforcement to guitar practice.  3. With something new, try to practice it until you are proficient before moving on. However if something is too hard it's best not to get frustrated, instead move on to something else. When you come back to it later you'll be better. 4. If you play what you already know, you aren't learning. Concentration is important when practicing. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. It's quality not so much quantity that counts! Some interesting facts about the brain relating to Guitar Practice 1. The more we learn the better we become at learning. The brain generalizes, meaning that the better you become at a skill, the easier you pick up similar skills (reference just below right)...
"These improvements showed evidence for meeting the main criteria for the value of behavioral training programs: generalization (to nontrained assessments) and maintenance (of the gains after the completion of training)." Mahncke HW, Connor BB, Appelman J, Ahsanuddin ON, Hardy JL, Wood RA, Joyce NM,Boniske T, Atkins SM, Merzenich MM. Memory enhancement in healthy older adults using a brain plasticity-based training program: a randomized, controlled study. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Aug 15;103(33):12523-8. Epub 2006 Aug 3. 2. Playing guitar is not only about left and right hand coordination but coordination of different fingers between the left and right hand.  Sometimes with my students I see a loss of coordination in one hand for something that was previously second nature, when introducing something new for the other hand. For instance someone may have learnt to use their fretting hand proficiently on the fretboard using 3 or all 4 fingers, but only use a downward picking motion for their plucking hand. If attempting alternate picking (by using an upward picking motion also) the coordination of their fretting hand can regress. The reason for this is quite likely because the brain is efficient by wiring things together when they occur at the same time, so coordination of the fretting hand has been associated with the other hand downward picking, but not upward picking.  This can be frustrating but guitar practice often relies on modesty and learning new techniques as though a beginner, even if you have been playing a while (reference below)... "The general idea is an old one, that any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become 'associated', so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other." Hebb, D.O. The organization of behavior. Wiley & Sons: New York; 1949 (p.70) 3. Education increases the number of branches among neurons. "Education had a consistent and substantial effect such that dendritic measures increased as educational levels increased." Jacobs B, Schall M, Scheibel AB. A quantitative dendritic analysis of Wernicke's area in humans. II. Gender, hemispheric, and environmental factors. J Comp Neurol. 1993 Jan 1;327(1):97-111.
Guitar practice img1 How to practice guitar img1
Too   much   guitar   practice   can   mean   loss of    contact    with    the    outside    world    and lack   of   awareness   of   fashion   at   the   time. This is not how to practice guitar…
 © Intuition Publications 2012 - present
Home Home Books & eBooks Books & eBooks Reviews Reviews Lessons & Tips Lessons & Tips Contact Contact
How to Practice
How to Practice Guitar
How much Guitar Practice? - This depends on your goals; the greater the goal the more work needed. Either way it is best not to cram too much practice into one session. 30 minutes practice 5 or 6 days a week is better than 2 - 3 hours in one day of the week. 2 - 3 hours guitar practice 5 - 6 days of the week is better than spending all day, for one day. This is known as the spacing effect. If you are a beginner or thereabouts, you shouldn't be worried by the idea of practicing for hours a day, 30 minutes practice 5 or 6 days a week is fine, anymore might be overkill at this stage. Enthusiasm can grow over time, most successful guitarists who practice several hours a day would most probably not have started that way. If you start to feel that it's a strain physically or mentally and your playing becomes dull then this is not how to practice guitar; it is best to take a short break. When practicing new things it can go well but after a while the improvement can stop because full concentration can only last so long until you start to "switch off". Similarly don't be fooled into ending up confused at how you got something right the first time yet after a while your playing seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it's just that your hand is tired or your concentration is becoming exhausted. Try not to play constantly for more than 10 minutes without a small 1 - 2 minute break. After all in a gig / performance situation it is rare you would play constantly for that long without small breaks in between. Always pay attention to your fingers; if it hurts then stop, if your fingers feel like they are about to start "complaining" then have a break for a couple of minutes.  Patience can be fast - Being patient and having time for what might be called "serious boring stuff" is faster than being impatient, doing just the "fun" stuff and your playing not progressing. Let's say if you're a beginner and are uncertain how to practice guitar, rather than just playing around on the guitar with your favourite tunes for 30 minutes, try to spend the first 10 minutes doing technical exercises and/or scales to a metronome. This way you'll progress faster than if you just played the guitar for 30 minutes. Then the fun stuff becomes more fun because you are better at it rather than reaching a frustrating point where you feel you can't go any further.  Noticing your own progress might be harder, knowing that you are there every minute you practice for every small improvement. If you are practicing properly but feel you are not making enough progress, then someone else who hears your playing less frequently might feel you have progressed more because they will see the difference from month to month rather than every minute. Playing Music - A mistake that can be made is to try and play a piece how you want it to sound as opposed to playing it how you are actually able to play it. If you can't play a whole piece well and consistently, you could isolate the more difficult parts and practice them to a metronome at a slower speed at which you can play accurately. As you get better bring it back up to speed until it fits in the song and you can play the whole thing consistently.  You can make more improvement in less time this way. The same applies to playing over a backing track; practice without it first. Likewise for scales, parts of a scale can be harder than other parts. Some might play the hard parts slower and the easier parts faster. For example with the minor pentatonic scale (one of the most used scales on the guitar), the notes on the lower strings might be harder to stretch to so a beginner might play them slower than the rest of the scale. If you learn and practice technical exercises/scales to a metronome you develop a sense of tempo and it trains you to play consistently, so play the entire scale at a speed you can play the most difficult part adequately. Playing at a speed too fast for your ability is not how to practice guitar and can actually be practicing at making mistakes, and that's not what you want to ingrain. Sense of timing is a skill in its own right - Sometimes less experienced players may tend to play too fast over a slower tempo i.e. a slower piece or a metronome set to a slow speed. Although this may seem contrary to earlier advice, it is often because they are playing to their technical ability rather than concentrating on actually playing in time. Technical ability on its own means little without a sense of timing. Having your own internal metronome can help keep rhythm, such as tapping your foot to a piece of music. General - 1. Always try to give yourself a slight challenge. Not too easy but not too hard either. This way you can make constant progress without getting frustrated or bored repeating the same things you already know. 2. Your own playing should satisfy you to a point that it becomes a positive reinforcement to guitar practice.  3. With something new, try to practice it until you are proficient before moving on. However if something is too hard it's best not to get frustrated, instead move on to something else. When you come back to it later you'll be better. 4. If you play what you already know, you aren't learning. Concentration is important when practicing. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. It's quality not so much quantity that counts! Some interesting facts about the brain in relation to Guitar Practice 1. The more we learn the better we become at learning. The brain generalizes, meaning that the better you become at a skill, the easier you pick up similar skills (reference just below right)...
Too    much    guitar    practice    can    mean loss   of   contact   with   the   outside   world and   lack   of   awareness   of   fashion   at   the time. This is not how to practice guitar.  
How to practice guitar img1
"These improvements showed evidence for meeting the main criteria for the value of behavioral training programs: generalization (to nontrained assessments) and maintenance (of the gains after the completion of training)." Mahncke HW, Connor BB, Appelman J, Ahsanuddin ON, Hardy JL, Wood RA, Joyce NM,Boniske T, Atkins SM, Merzenich MM. Memory enhancement in healthy older adults using a brain plasticity-based training program: a randomized, controlled study. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Aug 15;103(33):12523-8. Epub 2006 Aug 3. 2. Playing guitar is not only about left and right hand coordination but coordination of different fingers between the left and right hand.  Sometimes with my students I see a loss of coordination in one hand for something that was previously second nature, when introducing something new for the other hand. For instance someone may have learnt to use their fretting hand proficiently on the fretboard using 3 or all 4 fingers, but only use a downward picking motion for their plucking hand. If attempting alternate picking (by using an upward picking motion also) the coordination of their fretting hand can regress. The reason for this is quite likely because the brain is efficient by wiring things together when they occur at the same time, so coordination of the fretting hand has been associated with the other hand downward picking, but not upward picking.  This can be frustrating but guitar practice often relies on modesty and learning new techniques as though a beginner, even if you have been playing a while (reference below)... "The general idea is an old one, that any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become 'associated', so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other." Hebb, D.O. The organization of behavior. Wiley & Sons: New York; 1949 (p.70) 3. Education increases the number of branches among neurons. "Education had a consistent and substantial effect such that dendritic measures increased as educational levels increased." Jacobs B, Schall M, Scheibel AB. A quantitative dendritic analysis of Wernicke's area in humans. II. Gender, hemispheric, and environmental factors. J Comp Neurol. 1993 Jan 1;327(1):97-111.
Guitar practice img1
 © Intuition Publications 2012 - present
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