Take time to practice, not just play
Playing guitar is a lot of fun. It feels good to sit down and play something, whether it’s playing a lick or phrase we made or jamming out to Smoke on the Water. Playing guitar will no doubt make you a better guitarist if you play every day. But, taking the time to practiceguitar will help speed things along. Let’s take a look at what practice means. “To perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient” – Merriam-Webster. That is to say, we must work on the techniques and skills that make up the foundation of guitar playing to become fundamentally better.
A big wake-up call for myself as a guitarist was when I took a whole month working purely on my right-hand tone production. I tried my best to stay away from playing any songs I already knew, from even touching the fretboard at my guitar teacher’s instruction. I would spend hours a day focusing on improving my right hand, using a timer to split my practice sessions into twenty-minute segments. That included how my finger was moving, following through with the motion, listening to make sure the tone was smooth and round, finger independence, and making sure I was directly lined up with the metronome. I had improved more as a classical guitarist in that month than the year I had spent beforehand.
While this may be an extreme example of isolating a technique, it helped solidify the concept in my practice schedule. Creating fifteen-minute sections in my practice routine towards certain techniques really helped propel my progress. For example, I had a section for right hand arpeggiation patterns, one for left hand independence and control, and sections for certain moments in a piece where I needed to improve.
How can readers apply this to themselves? If you happen to be a guitar student, make sure to take the exercises your guitar instructorprovides seriously. Create a block of time where you can focus purely on a given technique. If your guitar teacher points out that you are not quite transitioning between the A and B section in time, take time to work on the transition point to a metronome. Of course, it needs to be said, one cannot forget to take time to play and have fun as well.