Getting more practice time and getting more out of your practice time
By Michael Korte
Learning to play the guitar can become an overwhelming and frustrating experience, with an approach that is vulnerable to slow progress and ineffective practicing techniques.
That is why I want to help you with this article to get more practice time and to get more out of your practice time.
The harsh truth is, that you will progress slowly or almost unnoticeable (notice, I did NOT say "not at all", because everything we do, gives at least SOME kind of progress, which is the good news), if you do not do something regularly.
If you are very very busy, I recommend doing at least something for as less as five minutes per day, if you focus in this time. But more about that later.
So, what is the big answer to the question "How do I find enough time to practice?"
Of course, there is no one answer, but the secret lies in your personal time management and commitment. Take a piece of paper.
At the top write down a number of minutes you want to commit to play guitar every day, of which you are SURE you can stick to. Even if it is only 5 minutes (everyone has 5 minutes in a day, right?). If you can stick to that daily, great. And you can always adjust that number later.
And do not tell me, you do not have time for this. By reading this article I can tell immediately, that you DO have the time right NOW.
Next, divide that number throughout the day, where you think you can make time for this amount of time. If your initial number was 15 minutes, you can split it up to 5 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after coming from work. But you can also practice 15 minutes in one session. That is up to you.
Think about where you can find enough time to commit to your individual split. Also consider, where you have the most mental energy left to focus on playing guitar. If there is no other way, than to practice when you are already (or still) tired, so be it. It is better than nothing and over time you will get used to trying to get more focus out of yourself. That means, you will become more enduring!
You might also want to consider, that there are weekdays and weekend days, where you need to schedule your practice sessions for a different time. Try to get your daily dose of practice as OFTEN (not as long) as possible. If you can find more time on a specific day, that is great. But do not use this as an excuse, to skip practice on the next day or catch up on practice from another day. You are done with this little assignment when you managed to split up that initial number completely throughout your day for every day of the week.
Remember, you wrote out the ABSOLUTE minimum of practice time, that you can handle. So, that excuse is not valid here.
You could even cross off the days you practiced in a calendar.
By now you should be clear on when to practice and for how long you practice.
It is important now, to stick to your own schedule as good as you can but at the same time do not beat yourself up, if you missed a session! Just continue with the next session and carry on. If you find yourself beating yourself up about it, remember, that what you are doing now, is getting you forward much better, than not having this schedule at all.
Getting more out of your practice time
Now that we are clear on WHEN to practice, we have to find out what and HOW to practice.
Consult your paper sheet again and START a list of things, you want to be able to do. Notice, I did not say MAKE a list, because that list will be adjusted over time anyway. You might add things, or cross things off, if you learned them.
That list will probably get longer over time and that is fine.
Let us assume you have 4 things on your list (just a random number).
You can take the first two of those things for a week and practice them for the first week (or any other interval you choose) and then take item number 3 and 4 and practice those for the next week, then you could take item 1 and 3, after that item 2 and 4.
The point is: cycle them through and bring variety to your practice.
When you do get to your practice, eliminate all distractions, that you have control over. Tell your secretary you are busy for X minutes, switch off your phone. People will survive without you for 5-10 minutes, right? ;)
Try to be as focused as you possible can and do what you planned to do.
After a month, compare yourself now with where you were a month before. You are very likely to see an immense change in your playing.
About the author:
Michael Korte is teaching guitar in Finland. In his guitar school, he teaches his students new approaches and concepts for their rhythm and solo playing and also shows them how to improve their practicing, so that they get better results faster. If you want to reach the next level in your playing and you are looking for kitaratunnit in Tampere make sure to get in touch with him.