Sure you know it, practice is key to becoming a better guitar player, but the tricky part is that practice is often associated in our brains with hard work, difficulty, and struggle. Understand that it’s just the programming of your mind talking. It doesn’t have to be like that. Practice can just as easily be associated with fun, flow and fruitfulness. So let’s take a look at these 10 Guitar hacks to make practice a delight and easy to tackle.
1. Fun and process
First, allow yourself a few minutes to think about what piece of music ( a song, solo, progression, chords or exercise) you would like to practice. Choose something that will really excite you. Write it down.
Now get into the childlike (creative) mindset that you are going to enjoy the process, and not think like an adult who is too often result and goal oriented. The latter might be the very obstacle that will keep you from starting in the first place.
Know that you don’t have to practice for anybody, anything, or any other reason than the incredible joy that guitar playing will bring. Just be in in it for the process!
2. Sacred space
Find a space where you won’t be bothered and disturbed. You need quietness and uninterrupted time to focus and enjoy the pleasant process of practice. Tell your family or friends at home not to disturb you in the next 45 minutes.
3. Prepare to follow through
Print out your favorite song, exercises, scales, solos and lay them out on the table or put them on your music stand. You might want to restring your guitar for a better feel and sound. Get everything ready like picks, tuner, metronome, capo or an amp and pedals. Don’t forget to put the kettle on for a hot cup of tea or make yourself a nice cappuccino to enhance your mood. If everything is all set and ready you make things easier to start practicing right away.
4. Lower the action
A word on the technical side. A lot of guitars have poor or high action which makes playing more difficult and challenging to make your notes sound good. Go to your local guitar shop and see if they can adjust the action of your guitar to improve the comfort and playability of the guitar.
If you feel any resistance toward practicing, know that it’s just your mind playing tricks and trying to distract you. Your mind is designed to play the devil’s advocate, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Your resistance doesn’t care if practicing is good for you, or that it will make you grow as a musician and make you deeply happy and fulfilled. Resistance doesn’t care less. It doesn’t give a crap about you. So don’t listen!
For goodness sake, turn everything off. Turn off all your computers, TV’s, mobile devices, or other digital gadgets that will inevitably distract you from playing. Those evil devices.
Print out your sheet music, don’t watch them on the screen. If you need to listen to music on Spotify for study, or to play Jam tracks for soloing and improvisation download the songs to your phone so you can listen offline and turn the phone to airplane mode.
All the master guitar virtuosos talk about anticipating your next move and visualizing the overall picture. Think and look ahead in your playing. What will be your next note? Where are your fingers headed and where do you need to place them?
Visualize a detailed picture of you playing your song, playing the scale, the exercise or solo fluently and effortlessly. See it clearly in your mind the way your fingers run smoothly across the appropriate strings and frets and how you’re playing it perfectly. Feel it and believe it when you’re practicing. You have to believe it before you can achieve it.
8. Reps, reps, reps
Practicing is all about reps (just like in bodybuilding). The more reps, the better and more enjoyable the practice becomes. Yet, we need reps with attention and analytics. Focus and observe what you practice, so you can keep making small changes and improvements constantly. Reps will give you the juice.
Practice is important but don’t forget to listen. Listen to the original song carefully. Develop your ears. Learn to listen to each instrument and vocals separately. Listen to the tempo of the song, the rhythm and timing. Follow the chords, chord changes, progressions, solos and individual notes. Closely pay attention and pick up everything you can from every song. Your ears become your best asset in practice.
10. Flow from habit
If you practice guitar daily your fingers will develop muscle memory. The playing becomes easier, more fluid, relaxed and graceful. You will be totally immersed into whatever you practice and start to experience states of flow. Everything seems to be going more effortlessly, pleasantly and improvement and gratification is just what comes about. Enjoy the practice!