Learning to practice guitar like a pro is really an issue of quality over quantity.
As a guitar teacher, I am asked all of the time, “How Do I Practice?” My answer is, “do it the right way.” Beginners should not focus on the length of the practice session nor the difficulty of the music they are playing.
There are two main reasons that long practice sessions are more of a detriment than they are helpful:
Physically the human body can’t handle it. Several musician’s careers are cut short because of the wear-and-tear over practicing has on our fine motor skills.
Injuries to your hands, fingers, and wrist are guaranteed for those of us who practice too long. That’s why we must be very deliberate and precise about our practice habits.
The second, the human brain can’t maintain a high level of cognition for an extended period.
I know you’re different and you are really smart. But the human brain is a unique instrument of its own.
We humans spend most of our day in a state of habituation. Which means we are doing your daily routines and habits with very minimal cognitive effort.When we we are truly challenged intellectually, our heart begin to race, eyes dilate and breathing increases and we seek to get back to a comfortable state
The human brain can’t stay cognitively engaged for a really long period with tasks that require attention and effort.
So, it would be best if you practiced in a way that allows your brain to be challenged for a short period of time with maximum intensely and return to a state of doing things well.
So How Do You Practice?
Focus on Quality Not Quantity.The: 4 Easy Steps to Practice Guitar Like a Pro
Commit to 20 Minutes a Day
“Long-term consistency trumps short term intensity”-Bruce Lee
Commit to 20 minutes a day a couple times a week. Cognitive science tells us that consistency plays a major role in developing new skills. The commitment to practice every day is much more important than the duration of your practice time or the difficulty of the musical task.
Much like exercise commit to a little bit each day.
If you want to play longer just for fun or you have the extra time that’s great. But commit to 20 minutes of highly focused, intentional practice on one thing each day or at least, on most days.
Isolate Smaller Parts and Perform Them Better Each Time
My teacher always said, “Smaller Parts More Times Better” and that is so true. Don’t start from the beginning of the song every time. Select a musical idea (verse, chorus, phrase, measures 1-8, etc.) and isolate that part.
Concentrate practicing that smaller musical idea, more frequently and, better each time. This type of practice is better because it requires you to focus on quality over quantity.
Intention, Perform then, Fix
“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.-Carl Jung
After you have isolated the music idea take a moment to think about what you are trying to say.
What is the idea or emotion that you want for the listener to experience and how will you do that? Will you change the tempo or volume of your playing?
What music dynamic will you use to demonstrate what’s important about the music? The biggest mistake I see people make is they go on autopilot. They repeat the part ad nauseam with no intention or correction between each performance.
Don’t do that. Take the time to think how you want it to go, reflect on what you actually did, and then perform again trying to make it better.
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Learn to play the songs you love. Also, notice that what you love to play are the songs that you play very well.
Practicing should not always be so laborious and challenging thing that you receive zero joy from. You need to spend at least half of your practice time playing something that is easy and fun for you, and the other half doing something challenging.
If you truly want to practice guitar like a pro then you have to stick with it and, if you want to stick with it you have to experience some sort of joy from your playing.
Joy has nothing to do with the difficult of the music but rather how well you do it. I hope this article was helpful to you. Learning to practice like a pro really just means you walk anyway from each rehearsal a better player.
Please contact me here with any questions or if you would like to work with me.