How to find out what you need to practice on the guitar?

guitar practiceScales, arpeggios, theory, sweep picking, transcribing, ear training, rhythm, alternate picking, improvisation, composing, jamming, analyzing songs, listening, working on vocabulary …

Did I forget something?

For sure. Bending, vibrato, slides ….

This list of things that an aspiring guitarist needs to practice is almost never-ending.

And yet it is crucial that we find a way how to decide what should we focus on in our guitar practice sessions.

Clarity is priceless …

So you have finally decided to make it as a guitar player.

You are determined to not give up this time.

You are ready to start, but somehow you don’t know where to.

You are not sure what to practice on guitar in order to get where you want to get.

And as you probably know, you are not alone. We’ve all been there.

Determined but clueless. Overwhelmed by so many possibilities. No idea what is the right thing to practice right know at this moment. Sounds familiar?

A step-by-step process how to gain clarity and focus

Imagine that you very precisely know what and when you need to practice. Imagine that there are no doubts and no fears whether you are doing the right thing or not.

What a great feeling, right?

So here is a step by step process that I use when I need to find clarity and focus. I use it for my own guitar practice routine and also when I am working with my guitar students.

#1 Write down 5-10 songs that you really (and I mean really, really) love

There is only so much time in a day and only so much time in our lives;  we have to find out what are the important things for us. Without priorities it is almost impossible to get good at anything.

I don’t want you spend hours and hours on youtube to find the greatest guitar lesson ever.

You won’t find it. Trust me. There is none (I checked it!)

Instead, focus on music that you love. Music was the reason why you started to play (ok , maybe also girls, but that’s the secret.) Find 5 – 10 songs that really move you. Find out what kind of guitar playing you like, find out what kind of guitar player you want to become.

#2 Analyze each and every one and find out what chords, scales, techniques and theory concept are used

Now it gets harder. Analyze each and every song and discover what makes them great. Deconstruct each song to its most essential building blocks.

This is a great way how to learn because you are learning from the real masters of the craft. I think this is one of the best ways how to learn any kind of art.

#3 Based on your analysis write down a list of all things that you need to learn

Make a list of all things that you need to practice. For better understanding I usually suggest to put it into four groups: technique, theory, rhythm, lead.

#4 Create a guitar practice schedule

Now that you have this four groups, create a guitar practice schedule based on this article.

After you finish these four steps, you should have a very clear picture on what you need to practice. If you have never done exercise like this, you can be surprised how good gaining clarity feels. Usually I feel a rush of positive energy and I am ready to take action. Clarity fuels inspiration.

Now that you guitar practice schedule is ready, there is one more thing that you need to do …

#5 Avoid anything that is not on the list

This is crucial. If you want to get results you cannot change the plan every day. You have to stick to your plan and that’s why you should avoid practicing anything that is not on the list.

Don’t watch youtube lessons that are not related to your plan. Bookmark them and watch them in 3 months if you need to. No excuses. No reasoning. Once you start practicing something that is not on the list, you are on your way to loose  clarity again. Don’t do that. Be ruthless. Shut everything that is not important off.

If you feel like you have lost your clarity again and if you are overwhelmed by the stuff you need to practice, do this exercise again. Chances are that either your musical goals have changed along the way or you have just burdened yourself with too much stuff again.

Let me know how this exercise worked for you.

Photo by: Greg McMullin

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2 Responses to How to find out what you need to practice on the guitar?

  1. Marko April 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Thanks for another excellent article, I guess it’s time I start following your guides! :)

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