Practicing with Purpose

“How much practice needs to be done..?”

This is one of the most common questions I receive from Beginners and Beginners parents..in this post however, I am going to discuss something that precedes that, it is what to practice..

An analogy I like to use is the gym: many people hit up the gym with plans: to gain muscle, increase cardio..why would guitar be any different..?

Practice with a purpose

The first element of practice is figuring out where do you want to go or what do you want to be able to do with your playing..? I remember buying a chord dictionary a few years back, about fifty chords in I asked myself: “why am I learning this..?”, it is all well and good learning an E7b9b13 chord or gypsy jazz from the depths of France but unless you have or find a use for it, the material you learn can fade from memory quickly..!

I ask the kids “have you ever gotten on a plane that didn’t know where it was going..?” They laugh at this concept, but the same can happen with your playing: you learn the basics & then drift along not making any farther progress and wondering why..

Younger kids do need to be guided along but from a certain age onwards players have freedom of choice and every decision (or lack of), affects their practice and in turn their playing.


Possible Goal Areas

Learn..

  • A new song
  • A new technique
  • Some new chords
  • Some New scales
  • Extra Theory

Again, keep in mind the “why” behind what you are practising as you choose one of the above. If you begin a practice routine & deep down you feel you’re not enjoying it and that you won’t even enjoy it when you reach your target then re-evaluate: it’s ok to change your mind.

Questions to ask yourself for clarity with your practice

  • What is I want to be able to do..?
  • How much time can I commit daily..?

So for example..

I want to be able to play the lead guitar on “Layla” by Eric Clapton at full tempo. I can commit to practising 20 minutes per day, apart from Sundays.

The time commitment aspect is so important — I’ve seen many players, myself included, set targets with big commitments only to grow frustrated and disheartened when we don’t meet them. Some of us have read the classic stories of all the hours Slash and Hendrix put in as they honed their skills but everyones situation is different: do what you can with respect to the time you’ve got. A mother of three has a very different looking week to a fourteen year old, but everyone has some time: that is the truth..start with even 5 minutes a day, let it develop into a habit and build it up from there.

Many players say “I’ll do an hour each day because that’d be serious going”, well it is serious going but if you’re a ball of stress trying to fit in your hour a day, then take it down a gear, practice happier and aim to work towards your hour a day.

Anyways, I’d love to hear some of your own ideas on practice, please post below :-)

Happy Playing,

Dave