Thoughts on Practice Part 2

  • 01/26/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC

I once had a student that used to practice for 6-8 hours a day, and had been playing for nearly 30 years...The only problem was that he sucked! I then realized that it is possible to practice badly. Simply practicing for 8 hours will not necessarily make you an awesome guitar player. In fact, I believe he could have made much more progress with just an hour of “good” practice. By practicing the wrong things for 8 hours he could have made his playing worse!

What Is Good Practice?

First, we will address what bad practice is. Bad practice is re-enforcing negative habits such as having a bad angle in your picking hand, or holding the guitar wrong. It is going over the same song that you can already play just fine. It is having no direction in your practice routine and just noodling away for hours with no idea of what it is you are trying to actually achieve.

Good practice is re-enforcing positive technique habits, and working on exercises that will specifically improve your technical ability and increase your dexterity and control. It is working on NEW songs that will increase your repertoire and challenge you musically and technically (not too far beyond your ability though). It is having a well planned out practice routine that will address all areas of guitar playing and will challenge you to push yourself everyday. Most importantly, it’s being consistent that matters the most. If you say you are going to practice for 2 hours everyday, then stick with it. It is not going to be beneficial to practice for 8 hours in a single day and then not touch your guitar for the rest of the week. This will not build good technique and will just burn you out if you aren’t ready for it.

My experience tells me that most good guitar players have either been though a period of a year or more of practicing insanely for 8 hours a day, or they practice consistently every day for many years. Players that simply spend their years noodling away and not challenging themselves will remain sounding like a novice, even if they spend 30 years playing. It is about the quality of practice and not the quantity. If you combine quality with quantity, then you have the golden ticket to getting in the express lane to guitar stardom!

Wrap Up

I am not saying that everyone should aspire to be a guitar virtuoso. It's simply not for everyone. I’m sure many players are perfectly happy just noodling around. But if you want to improve dramatically and you are prepared to work for it, then I hope you have picked up some tips from this article that will help you achieve your goals.