How to Cut Your Practice Time in Half (And Get Double the Results)

Recently, I wrote a blog post and recorded a video about the importance of powerful practice routines. But I want to expound on this theme a little more because it’s so critical to experiencing major wins as a guitar player. It’s also extremely important to understand if you are a music instructor of any kind. Getting this skill down will work wonders for your students, especially beginners.

I have a brand new guitar student right now. As of this post, we’ve had three one-hour lessons together. When she walked into my teaching studio, she basically was starting from scratch. Now, after just 3 short weeks, she already knows four chords, a challenging finger exercise, is working on her second song, and is comfortable playing with a metronome at tempos that surprise even her! All that after just 3 weeks! It’s important to point out, too, that guitar is her first instrument. Second instruments always come much faster, but this is her first. To God be the glory!

So, what is the secret of her success? How is she learning so quickly? Admittedly, the one-hour lessons help a lot. We can get a significant amount more done, and at a more relaxed pace. I could write a whole series on the benefits of longer music lessons. However, I do experience very similar results even in my 30-minute lessons.

So, what’s the secret?

The secret is really just a matter of being structured and having a clear system that you work through, either as a player or an instructor. Starting without a plan is like starting a road trip without a destination in mind. You’ll get somewhere eventually, but where? And is that where you wanted to end up?

It takes a little more intentionality on the front end, but the pay off is huge. What if you could play that incredibly fast guitar riff you’ve dreamed of in just two or three months? What if you could finally master that fingerpicking pattern you’ve struggled with? Do you believe it’s possible? It is! The trick is that it won’t just happen. You’ve got to set realistic goals and go for them with consistency and perseverance.

What you can do next

Set a moment aside and ask yourself, “What do I really want to master on the guitar?” Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself what it is that you’re wanting to achieve. Face that fear! Then, set some goals for yourself. I recommend focusing on only one or two skill-related goals at a time. Spreading yourself too thin is a recipe for failure. So, just choose one or two skills or challenges that you’d like to focus on right now. After eight or twelve weeks, you may have mastered that skill to your satisfaction and you can move on to the next exciting challenge!

I’m going to make myself vulnerable here and share my two goals for this time:

  1. Improve my speed picking technique and be able to play a two-octave major scale at 300 BPM.
  2. Improve my sweep picking technique: Be able to play a four chord progression, sweeping 16th notes at 100 BPM.

Yea! I’m already excited about these new goals I set for myself! If you’ve never set compelling goals for yourself musically, you owe it to yourself to do this. So, schedule that moment to sit down and think through what it is you’re wanting to master on the guitar right now. What are the one or two guitar skills or songs that you’re always itching to master? Now, go for them! There’s almost nothing more liberating than having a clear pathway to walk on. You can do this! Ask God to help you. Involve Him in each process of growth. Ask Him to lead you and guide you so that you can be in sync with His desires for your guitar playing. Nothing makes music sweeter than having God involved! Let me tell ya!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What are your goals for the next phase of your guitar playing? Leave a comment below!

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