When you first start out learning to play guitar, the whole concept can be pretty overwhelming. Most beginners don’t know which way is up. Many times they feel like they are getting bombarded with information to the point where their head is going to explode.
But you can keep yours from blowing up!
It all has to do with setting up a practicing routine for yourself.
A properly set up practicing regimen will allow you to take all of the foreign concepts that will come your way and learn them in a way that is best for you. That being said, it is very important to note that what works for one person isn’t necessarily what will work for someone else.
Let’s take a look at a few ways where you can set yourself up for success.
Structure is needed
I don’t know about you, but I’m not much for working out in the gym. I know I should, but I just don’t have the discipline and willpower to do so. I still have those extra pounds from Christmas that I know I need to get rid of…
One of the best things about working out is that it typically is done in a structured manner. Just going into the gym and haphazardly doing exercises will not get you the results you are looking for. They call them workout routines for a reason, right? They are set up in a manner to give you the best results for your particular goals.
Learning to play the guitar can be looked at in the same way. Your approach to learning has to have a level of structure and order so that it makes logical sense. It also helps so you can continue to progress as fast as possible.
Yes, you’ll hit speed bumps and also go through peaks and valleys. But having a well-defined practicing regimen can help to make the bumps a little less tall and the valleys a little less deep.
Take The Time To Make The Time
One of the first things you should do is to make time-based decisions for your practicing.
You should try and set some simple goals for yourself. How long should you practice at any given time? How many days per week? It all depends on your motivation level and how advanced you ultimately want your playing to be. Some may be comfortable with 30 minutes sessions three times a week.
Others may want to really hit things hard and practice for hours at a time almost every day. That level of dedication will make some people into incredible guitar players but could most certainly burn others out to where they completely lose interest.
Part of keeping the motivation level up is to determine the best time of day to practice. As crazy as it may sound, once you get into a groove you’ll start to actually look forward to your practice time. In my case, practicing after I got home from work was a great way to relieve some stress and get my mind off things.
As Billy Joel said, sometimes it’s nice “…to forget about life for a while…”
It really doesn’t matter what time of day you practice, but it just needs to be when you are the most receptive to learning. After work was great for me, but others may get more benefit from doing it right before bed, or in the morning.
No hard rules here as far as time-based decisions go. Set up what works for you and you’ll tend to stick with it much better.
Location, Location, Location…
Having a dedicated place to practice helps as well.
Some people do best when outside distractions are limited. This could be your bedroom, a spot in the basement, or even your studio space if you’re fortunate to have that option. Truth is, for some people the bedroom, basement, and studio are all the same room, right?
Others can do well in any type of environment. Some people can play while watching TV.
Pick a place where you can learn and develop the best – that’s the key.
What The Heck Am I Supposed To Do?!?
OK…so you’ve figured out how long and how often you’ll spend time practicing.
You’ve also decided where your best personal space will be to get the most out of your time.
That’s all well and great. But what exactly are you supposed to practice?!?
That’s a pretty easy question to answer if you are taking formal guitar lessons. Your teacher will most likely give you a set of topics and exercises to work on in between lessons. For those that are self-taught, you’ll have to take it upon yourself to set up a lesson plan.
In my opinion, the most important thing here is to mix things up. Basic theory topics are boring. There – I said it. It’s true. Learning scales, chords, and all of the other theory stuff can seem kind of pointless sometimes.
A great way to keep your head in the game is to break your time up into sections. Work on those boring exercises and mental stuff because…well…you have to. Take what you’ve learned and made part of your practicing fun.
Try to write a song with those new chords you just learned. Or, learn a popular song that happens to include what you have been working on. Did you just learn a soloing technique? Try to learn one of your favorite solos.
The boring stuff is the pathway to the fun stuff. Don’t let yourself get bogged down – look for ways to make your practicing routine fun. It’ll keep your head in the game and make you want to learn more…and more…and more.
Wrapping It Up
Approaching learning to play the guitar really can’t be done effectively without having a good game plan. Having a structured routine will help you to progress at a much faster rate than just throwing yourself into things with no rhyme or reason.
Knowing how much you want to play, what to play, and doing it consistently is the silver bullet to being successful.
Well…looks like another one bites the dust (yeah…Queen rocks)!
Priming yourself to do the right things from the beginning is one of the best things you can do. But having a great routine doesn’t mean jack squat unless you’ve got something good to practice.
Fear not! You can find a ton of great workouts in my “Guitar Exercise for Beginner” book.
Remember…I’m always here to help a brother (or sister) out…
Until next week – peace out!