David Joel on Guitar Practice
Practice makes perfect
One important step in taking music lessons for any instrument is to learn to practice and to be consistent with it. If you aren’t ready to commit to practicing every day, how do you expect to learn? Taking lessons with a great teacher is undoubtably important, but practice is key. And good music teacher is going to emphasize this as well. If you don’t practice, then whatever you’ve been taught isn’t going to resonate and then you are just wasting your time (and your instructor’s time as well).
If you want to learn guitar, experts say you should commit to at least 20 minutes a day to practice. You will need to figure out how to commit to that time. Rethink your schedule, your commitment level, and your other obligations, and find a way to make it happen. If you can’t do that, you probably should give up on learning the guitar.
So how do you motivate yourself to practice? First, try not to waste your motivation pursuing ordinary goals like practicing the guitar. Instead, align your guitar practice routine with the rest of your life so that it’s easy, and the time passes quickly. Do it at the same time every day. And pin it to some other habit, like after eating dinner or before brushing your teeth. This way it fails into your routine, and you won’t need motivation.
Second, listen to your favorite player and imagine that it’s you. Realize the only thing separating you from this outcome is practice time. And commit yourself to finding the time to reach this goal someday or else you might leave this Earth before having reached this dream. Third, and perhaps the most effective: narrow your focus to practicing every single day for thirty days. Once you’ve reached this goal, it will be more or less a habit.
Choosing what time of day is best to practice is personal preference. Whenever you have the time is the best time. In a perfect world, the morning is an ideal time because you can avoid 90% of the causes of skipping practice by practicing first thing in the morning. Then you aren’t going all day making excuses as to why you can’t do it.
Time & Space
To get the most out of your practice time you need to concentrate. Go to a dedicated practice space and avoid distractions. Pick one to three topics to focus on, don’t just dawdle. Concentrate on each topic for 15-25 minutes until progress has been achieved. Focus on your weaknesses, fixing mistakes, and making progress.
Remember, the bare minimum you should be practicing is 20 minute per day, every day. For most players, however, 30-45 minutes per day is more ideal. For advancing players, one hour per day or more is realistic.
When it comes to learning the guitar, practice really does make perfect. It is important to find a great guitar teacher and then honor yourself and that teacher, by taking what you have learned and practice until you get better. You aren’t going to be perfect overnight, but every minute spent practicing brings you one step closer to it.