One of the most joyful time in my day is when I grab the guitar and be prepared for the best use of my guitar practice time.
Vince Lombardi’s famous quote says ” Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect “. So finding out what’s the best guitar practice routine is essential in your journey to play good guitar.
While it is true perfection robs our joy in many aspects of life, perfect practice is what creates the most enduring joy that gets better every time you pick up the guitar. Not only can practice time be enjoyable, you’ll enjoy playing more, the better your practice time becomes.
So let’s dive into finding out the best guitar practice routine for yourself.
Get Connected First
Remember just like in a relationship, the better a marriage, a working partnership or a friendship is, the more connected two persons are. So in practicing, you have to practice being connected with what you do. So what’s your true goal of playing? Get connected there. What’s your love for your guitar? Get connected there too. You may want to do The Guitar Meditation If You Have A Looper. But without it, you are still fine as long as you know that being present and connected is the great first place to start.
And finally, do you love your practice and your practice routine? You have to work out the meaning and how to be connected there too. Well, if you made it here, you are in the right place to start your practice time.
Have Fun With Your Major Scale
The basis of practice the guitar has to be knowing the major scale and knowing where the 1s, 2s, 3s … and the 7s are in that scale.
Playing scales may seem boring to some but for many professionals, striving to play it well and make every note clear, smooth and with feeling is essential practice. It boils down to if you are personally connected even with one note. The major scale is the mother of all scales so playing it and getting connected with it is irreplaceable.
With the major scale, you can play the minor scales and many other scales. Do you know that the natural minor scale (otherwise known as the aeolian scale) is found within the major scale (also known as the Ionian scale)? So is the Dorian, the Phrygian, the Lydian and the Mixolydian and the Locrian scales.
Let me know if you want me to share the trick to find them in the major scale in the other post. For now, just know that major scale helps us play the rest without needing to memorize more.
When You Play, You Hum
I first learn this from Jimmy Bruno while studying in his online institute. He said if you play and connect your fingers with what you hear, next time you hear something, your fingers automatically go there. So hearing your note as your fingers play it is the key, humming it or singing it out as you play enhances the listening. So as you practice, try to hum it along. The good thing about humming it is the when you go out without a guitar, your can hum and play air guitar.
That practice without a guitar alone is going to increase your practice time multiple fold and you’ll get connected with the sound and your finger.
Practice The Songs You Are Most Connected With
I’m not a proponent of playing too many songs and playing it mediocrely. I will go easy on playing too many songs and focus on the song you are most connected with. Once you have that song, you get into the following
Step 1: Chord Structure.
Find out what is the chord sequence. I usually go with the numbering system. Like for example, I’m trying to memorize Wind of Change by the Scorpions so I’m going.
4 2 4 2 6 5 1 (singing with the tune of the intro)
1 2 1 2 6 5 1 (singing with the first verse)
Again this way of singing it helps me be able to practice without the guitar.
Step 2: Play or Sing The Melody
I will practice the melody of the song either by playing the notes to the song or singing the song (even if I have a bad singing voice)
Step 3: Play the chords and sing.
I will attempt to do it together. But not at one go. I will play in parts. Master the verse, then the chorus, then the bridge.
The key thing about playing songs is to enjoy the song. If you don’t, go look for one that you’ll enjoy playing. I know sometimes in band situations, you are forced to play songs that doesn’t resonate with you so much. I know its tough but if you want to be in the band, that’s the joy of sharing things and experiences, but you should have a chance to ask them to consider playing songs you like too. So get your repertoire of songs you like through practicing the songs you are most connected with.
Practice Parts That You Struggle With
Now after practicing your playing and your songs, there will be parts that you find you struggle with. There should be time dedicated to work on those. I find a lot of times, the struggle has to do with the timing of the song. So I used a looper or a metronome for that.
I may even work on the part I most struggle with that is not even related to playing the guitar. A lot of times, I find I can’t play a song because I’m not familiar with the song. So the exercise may just be to myself more familiar with it through listening to the recording or just closing my eyes and imagining myself or the original artist sing it.
End With A Doxology Kind Of Song
Just like they do in a traditional church, they end the service with a Doxology. Get to play a phrase or a song that you know very well so that every practice sessions get ended well.
The reason to do it is because your brain gets stuck with the last feeling you have of each session. So if you end with frustration rather than success, your brain is going to associate practice with trauma and that’s not going to help you progress you later when you practice. You will just freeze up and conclude that practice is drudgery.
So always end well with a song or a phrase you can play very well. Or you can just end with saying “Thank You” to God or to your guitar for serving you.
I, being a Christian with a love for tradition, I just really just play The Doxology.
Hope you have found this post helpful to find your best guitar practice routine. Remember at the end of the day to not take things too seriously but to let go and enjoy the process. It’s not an EGO trip and you are not going to be the next Van Halen or Carlos Santana, you just want to be yourself and play good guitar. So enjoy finding your perfect practice routine because you are playing guitar your own way.
Drop me a note about your guitar practice routine? I’m interested to hear how you do it.