What are the most important qualities of a successful guitarist? Successful guitarists have goals in what they want to achieve, remain disciplined and are persistent in practicing the guitar.
The most common pitfall I see in many beginner guitarists is that they give up in frustration after encountering a few stumbles and roadblocks in their learning. The truth is, becoming a good guitarist is something that doesn’t happen overnight.
Learning the guitar is a long term process where you continuously improve your playing skill from one level to another. While I can’t offer you a “magic pill” for instant success, I can help you achieve the results you are looking for by cutting down your learning curve and showing you the best way to learn the guitar.
First things first, you should ask yourself what do you want to achieve from playing the guitar? Is your goal to simply learn songs to impress your friends or do you dream of being on a stage and even performing in your own concert? What about the types of songs and genres of music you want to play?
Once you identify your goals, it would be easier to determine how you can work towards them and come up with a suitable practice plan. Now, I want you to set aside a realistic amount of time to commit yourself to practice the guitar.
An 8 hour/day plan on practicing the guitar is probably not sustainable for the long term. If you are a full-time student or working adult, 45mins – 60mins a day would be a much more reasonable target.
I have seen students who tend to make up for practicing time with long sessions because they weren’t disciplined enough to stick to their practice routine. Think about it: If you are a world-class athlete, would you be training for 18 hours in one day and take the next 6 days off?
The idea behind consistent practicing is that the human mind and body take time to learn and absorb new information. You should spread out your practice time. Consistent practicing of 20mins every day is a lot more effective than practicing for 8 hours in a day once per week.
You need to stick with your plan and review it periodically.
Let me show you an example of a guitar practice plan I used. When I started to take my guitar playing seriously, I was an undergraduate doing full time studies for a degree in engineering. It was impossible for me to spend 3-4 hours each day on the guitar due to my studies commitment. Hence, to make full use of the time I had set aside for learning the guitar, I would spend about an hour each day doing the following:
My Sample Practice Plan
On some days (especially during the exams period), I get so busy with my studies that I couldn’t even spare 30 minutes of my time to practice my guitar. However, I make it a point that I would still do at least 5-10 minutes of warm-ups to keep my fingers “in shape”.
You should come up with your own practice plan that is tailored to your lifestyle since the learning capacity for every individual is different. One important point to take note of is that there is a difference between playing the guitar and practicing the guitar.
Compared to aimlessly playing the guitar, proper practicing involves an organized method to learn new material or work on your weaknesses until you can overcome them.
To make the practice routines more fun and effective, part of your practice plan should include learning new stuff while the majority of your time should be spent on “perfecting” the older stuff.
It’s inevitable. As you start to tackle more stuff and learn advanced techniques, it is easy to get frustrated because you may not see the results you desire in the short term. When this happens, take a short break before coming back to it at a later time.
By forcefully putting yourself through difficult practices, it would not only hinder your progress but also get your motivation killed in no time. Lastly, I leave you with a final piece of advice: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
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