If you want to get better at playing guitar, and get the most out of taking lessons or joining an online guitar community, then you have to practice.
And if you want to get really good, you have to practice a lot.
Now, we all have busy lives and stuff going on. So how can we find the the time to practice?
Here are 6 ways to find more time to practice guitar:
1. Take Your Guitar to Work
I had one student a while ago, let’s call him Joe. He was loving the lessons, but did shift work. So, to get more practice time in, he started taking his guitar to work.
He would spend his lunch break practising guitar in his car. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, and it meant he could get a lot more practice done, a LOT, with no change to his schedule.
The only lifestyle difference he had to make was eating his lunch quickly and not watching TV on his lunch break… pretty good solution!
2. Take Your Guitar on Holiday
I used to go on mountaineering holidays with my Dad. They were great holidays. A lot of the big mountain ranges in Europe have purpose built trails, with huts along them. The huts have a bed (usually a dormitory) and provide food and a roof. They were pretty basic, but they did the job.
Anyway, we would fly to a mountain range in Europe, and then spend 10-14 days walking between mountain huts. The views were glorious.
But… this did present a problem. 2 weeks without practising? That’s 4% of the year written off in one go… not acceptable!
So I would take a 3/4 size acoustic, strap it to my rucksack, and traverse the Alps. Then I could do some practice in the evening.
One of my students did something similar. She went on a camping trip with her partner. It was the sort of trip where you drive to a campsite and park next to your tent.
She took her guitar in the car (pretty easy to do) and could practice every day.
3. Make Use of Wasted Time
We all have time in the day that we don’t do anything useful in. One big example of this is commuting.
Some people don’t commute very far, others spend 40 – 60 minutes each way commuting. If you are commuting to work, here is one great thing you can do to get more out of your time:
Get a Good Theory Book
Find yourself a good theory book (I recommend the “AB Guide to Music Theory” by ABRSM, Part I and II if you are new to theory), and read it on your commute. Boom – now you can level up your theory skills on your commute.
Take Advantage of Mental Rehearsal Time
It has been proven that, on short time scales, mentally rehearsing is as effective as actually rehearsing.
When this comes to your guitar playing, you could do several things:
- Visualise yourself playing a piece
- Mentally run through exercises
- Going over the notes along the strings
- Going over the notes in different scales
- Working out the notes in difference chords
- Think of a simple guitar melody in your head and
- Write some variations
- Play around with changing note ornamention
- Create some different rhythms
- (I do this all the time)
There are a few different things that you can do which, over time, become very effective.
4. Make Use of Driving Time
Do you do a lot of driving? What if you turned that driving time into something more productive?
You can use the “Steve Vai Ear Training Method” – record some intervals on your guitar, or write them out with a MIDI program (maybe Guitar Pro?) and export them.
Burn them to CD, and then, when you are in your car, you can sing along to intervals and scales. This is a GREAT way to do ear training.
5. Wake Up Earlier
This has got to be one of the simplest solutions… but possibly also the hardest to implement.
I used to sleep in pretty late… my morning wouldn’t start until 11am some days.
It was a huge waste of time.
So I slowly started setting an alarm clock, earlier and earlier, so I could get more out of my day.
Now I get up before 6am nearly every day… and I can get a ton done!
Whatever your lifestyle is, you can probably get up 30 minutes earlier than you do now, and get some practice time in. And if you do that consistently, you will find it starts to make a big, big difference over time.
6. Develop a Ritual
Whichever approach you choose, you want to start developing your own guitar practice ritual. This is something that you stick to, every single day, so that you consistently practice… and consistently improve.
You can’t control how fast you progress with the guitar, but you can control how much time you invest into your playing.
And taking it from being guitar practice, to a guitar ritual, will help you keep consistent with your practice.