If you want to get better at guitar, you need to practice. That just kind of goes without saying. But how¬†do you practice guitar? The answer may be obvious: just sit down and play the damn thing. But there’s more to it than that.

Learning to play the guitar and just generally playing guitar is supposed to be fun. Practice doesn’t sound as fun as actually playing the guitar, but the two kind of go together. You can’t play guitar is you don’t practice. So don’t see practice as some sort of chore, see it as an extension of general playing.

But with a limited amount of time in the day, how do you get the most out of practice? How do you stay motivated? And how do you keep improving?

Plan What You Want To Practice For The Future

Knowing what you’re going to practice¬†today is important, but have a plan of attack for your improvement and write it down so you know what to prioritise.

What do you want to improve on guitar? Do you want to expand the songs you can strum? Do you want to improve your lead guitar? Do you want to increase your knowledge of the fret board? Have a think about what you want to achieve and then figure out how you’re going to to get there. Determine what you skills you need to practice so that you can get where you want to get with your guitar skills.

Decide What You’re Going To Practice (And How) When You Sit Down

You may have an idea of what you want to work on over time, but what are you going to work on today? If you’re working on your lead work, sit down and say “I’m going to practice all my guitar scales today.” Or “I’m going to work on a solo from my favourite song.”

Basically, don’t just sit down and wing it. If you know what you want to improve on, then when you sit down to play you know what to start on.

Don’t Push One Thing Too Long

Playing guitar is supposed to be fun, so feel free to change up what you’re practicing. In my tips for beginner guitarists article I mention it’s fine to walk away from something and come back later if you’re having trouble. Obviously stick with something and persist, but at some point you also hit a wall of diminishing returns.

So change things up. Practice guitar chords for 15-20 minutes then change is up to scales. Then reward yourself by playing your favourite song that you just love to play, then go back to a couple exercises.

But Start With The Tough Stuff

It’s easy to avoid the harder stuff that you’re struggling with. So start with it and get it out of the way! Maybe you’re new to guitar and struggling with barre chords (a lot of people do): start there.

But as I mentioned, only push it for 15 or so minutes then move onto something else. Perhaps come back to it later in your practice sessions.

Stick To A Minimum Amount Of Time

Finding time to practice guitar can be difficult, but when you have that time, stick to it! Maybe you only have time to practice guitar for half an hour; use that full half hour. If you’re going to do an hour, do an hour!

If you want to play for longer though, play for longer.

Every Time You Pick Up The Guitar Doesn’t Have To Be “Practice”

Ultimately you’re learning the guitar to have fun, so don’t make every single interaction with the instrument “practice.” Make sure to reserve some time to just play the thing and enjoy yourself. All that practice is going to pay off, and you’re going to learn a lot of cool songs that you’ll really enjoy playing. So indulge yourself and play those songs you love to play. Why practice so much if you’re not going to directly use the skills you’ve learned?

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