Over the past 20 years, I’ve repeatedly observed how the word practice can instantly turn students (and not just my younger ones!) off from wanting to pick up their guitar. They want to be able to play, but they don’t want to put much effort into the learning process. I often see the same reaction with words such as work, study, and chores. Without going into the psychology of why some words trigger responses of misery, it’s important to recognize that guitar practice can be motivating and exhilarating.
Here are a few tips that can make practice feel like play:
1-Get a Drummer
With today’s technology, it’s easy to skip the metronome and practice play with drums. Take scale exercises for example. You could easily switch between a straight rhythm to a shuffle style and dramatically change the way you play the exercise. This not only improves your timing but may take you into new rhythmic territories you have never explored. From your phone to your computer, there is a drum app out there for any budget.
2-Learn a Song
Mastering a song from beginning to end is one of the most challenging aspects of playing guitar. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a band, try and convince everyone to stick to one song, be it an original or cover, and don’t move on until it can be played all the way through. Knowing that others are relying on you to finish your part can be a good motivation to practice play. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you and your bandmates have accomplished something together instead of just sitting and jamming in someone’s garage.
If you are not in a band, then pick a song to play along with in its entirety. Granted, this requires quite a bit of self-discipline because the only person you are responsible to is yourself. Also, if this strategy intrigues you, then you may want to consider one of the many software options that allows the user to remove the guitar parts he/she wishes to practice play.
No matter if you’re in a band or not, the process of finishing songs can have a huge impact on your playing. The first couple of songs may be difficult to get through, but you will find that, in time, it will get easier and easier.
Consider acquiring a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and start recording your guitar parts. This will help in two ways. First, recording and listening to your playing will provide quality feedback on what needs improving. Sometimes it’s hard to practice if you feel you are not moving forward with your instrument. Second, if you are not in a band, you could start learning how to write, arrange, and record your own songs. To get the best results, consider placing particular emphasis on the guitar parts that are needed. Basically, you’ll be practicing playing with purpose.
With a slight shift in how you perceive practice, a bit of curiosity and willingness to see where your creativity takes you, and a few minutes to introduce yourself to new and/or modified strategies, your practice jam sessions can take on a completely new meaning.
If you enjoyed the above post, you might also want to check out Create Your Own Exercises lesson.