Guitar Practice Tips – 5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Time

Have you been longing to make your guitar practice more productive? I know you have. 

Ever feel like you wasted the only precious moments you had to get better at your guitar playing? 

You thought you were going to get somewhere this time.

But once again your five minutes of noodling around turn into an hour. 

Before you know it…times up. You’re no better than the day before and now you’re out of time.

Don’t let this keep happening to you! Let’s face it, most adults have very little time to practice guitar.

Between family, work, and life, your practice time becomes…sacred. You need to make it count!

The next five suggestions can make your practice more productive. Apply them today, and they can help you take your playing to a new level. Let’s get started!

1. Set a Time and Place(Schedule Your Guitar Practice)

This is necessary to motivate you to practice more often and more consistently. When setting your time you will need to tell yourself, “I’m going to practice on this day for this amount of time”. 

I would suggest picking three to five days of the week and designating those days as your practice days.

Pick days that are early in the week so that you can stay ahead of the curve! I like to pick weekdays so that weekend time can be used to focus on family.

For example, Monday through Friday from 5 am to 6 am. Pick a time slot on these days that will provide the least amount of distractions. 

For me, this means early morning hours but your schedule may differ.

Get Back To The Guitar Practice And Keep Procrastination at Bay

I suggest that you do not wait until the end of the day to practice. You want your mind to be fresh and sharp during your practice time so that you can be your most productive.

If you wait until after you have been to work all day and you are tired then you will practice like a tired person. At this point, it will be much easier for you to talk yourself out of practicing altogether.

Don’t wait! The longer you wait to get it done, the greater the chance that it won’t get done at all. 

I like to get up to practice before everyone else is awake because I can practice uninterrupted. This also enables me to get time in without neglecting my family life.

You don’t want your family to feel like they come second to a guitar. But, at the same time, you do want to be dedicated and get your practice time in. 

I like to practice for 50 minutes. 

When I was taking private guitar courses in college, the class periods were 50 minutes. I have stuck with this amount of time for my practice periods and it serves me well. 

I believe it will work for you too. Fifty minutes seems to be the sweet spot.

In fifty minutes you have plenty of time to learn something without getting fatigued. 

You will feel like you accomplished something if you use this time wisely.

Go to Your Happy Place…Your Guitar Practice Room

Just as important as your practice time is your practice space. A separate room with little clutter or distractions will make an ideal practice spot. 

You could even pick one corner of that extra “catch-all” bedroom you’ve been meaning to clean up. This allows you to keep your practice materials as well as your guitar and any other gear in one area.

But if you don’t have an extra room then any quiet place will work. Try to pick an area that is furthest away from other members of the household so that you don’t distract them. 

Remembering, and keeping others in mind always goes a long way. Wherever you choose to practice, keep it consistent and stick with the same spot every time.

2. Set a Goal

This is the most important thing you can do. Try to pick one specific thing or topic to focus on during each guitar practice session.

Before you start, write down a simple goal or task you want to complete. Be as specific as possible.

This is a time when it is a great idea to be narrow-minded. Don’t pick topics that are too big to be covered in a short period. 

If you do pick a broad topic, try to break it down into smaller sub-topics. Goals such as…“I want to learn all the notes on the guitar” are too generalized and vague.

A better goal would be…“I want to learn the letter names of the guitar strings”, or “I want to learn the letter names on the first string up to the fifth fret. 

These are more achievable goals and ones that can have a distinguishable start and finish. 

For a helpful guide on these particular goals check out my article guitar string names – everything you need to know.

Remember that you are talking about one-hour blocks of time. Long-term goals with vague descriptions do not get accomplished in one hour. 

Larger goals must be broken down into several smaller goals. These smaller goals then function as stepping stones on your path to improvement.

Remember, on this particular path setting goals is the first step!

3. Warm-Up and Warm-Down

After you have your goal in mind, you must warm up your hands and prepare to practice. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are real concerns for musicians. 

These conditions can affect anyone of any age.

I recommend spending the first and last five minutes of your practice time warming up and getting your hands loose. Moving the joints of your fingers and wrists slowly is best. 

To get started, try out the figure below.

finger warmup for guitar

Start out playing this slowly. Start at the sixth string and play all the way down through the first string. When you feel comfortable try playing from string 1 to string 6.

There are endless resources on the Internet that will help you to find the exercises that work best for you. 

Guitarplayer.com is a great example where you can find more ways to warm up.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Many players do different things, before and after guitar practice, to warm up their hands and/or strengthen them. 

Some of the more common things are running warm water over the hands to promote blood flow. You can also massage your palms to help loosen up. 

I have seen piano players dangle their hands at the wrist and shake their hands vigorously to get loose.

You can make a tight fist and release it quickly over and over. Still, others squeeze stress balls to build strength and dexterity. 

You can pick any or all of these that I’ve mentioned. Just stick to what works best for you!

(Caution: Try to avoid intentionally cracking your knuckles if possible. This is not good for your joints.)

After you have developed a warm-up routine that you are comfortable with, it can be used as your warm down too. Please don’t skip the warm-up and warm-down. 

If you immediately start playing as fast as you can, your joints will suffer and you will tire quickly.

Warm-ups will get your fingers loose and build strength and dexterity in your hands. Over time this will promote excellent technique as well as conditioning.

4. Use a Metronome

This is one of the most important ways to make your guitar practice more productive. Not only is a metronome essential for a good recording, but it also makes for a productive practice. 

These are the little clickers that come in many shapes and sizes and you can adjust the speeds at which they tick. The ticks are measured in bpm (beats per minute).

My digital piano has a fully programmable metronome that I often use. I also use a traditional style wind-up style metronome. It is small and portable.

I like to use the Wittner Super-Mini Metronome the most and it works great.

But you don’t have to buy one. You can pull up a free one on your smartphone just by googling “metronome”. 

You should be using a metronome for everything you are trying to learn.

This includes scales, songs, or material from a method book. 

75 bpm is a good speed for practicing and learning new material. After you have mastered the material at 75 bpm, then move to a performance speed of around 90 to 110 bpm.

Using a metronome is one of the best ways to become a better musician no matter what instrument you play! It gets you counting the beats per measure in your head. 

This keeps you on time.

Playing with a metronome can be challenging at first if you have never done it before. You will be able to tell a difference in your playing if you incorporate the use of a metronome in your practice time. 

Other musicians will appreciate your increased sense of timing as well.

5. Log Your Guitar Practice Time

You should be logging your guitar practice time daily and weekly. This encourages accountability and consistency. 

This doesn’t have to be complex and you don’t need any fancy excel files or charts. I use this simple log sheet.

Write down the day and the amount of time you practiced for that day. When the end of the week comes around tally up the total hours. 

My Music Theory teacher in college used to tell me something that I found aggravating at the time. He would say that if I wasn’t giving at least 10 hours a week to my instrument then I wasn’t giving enough.

At first, I thought that was outrageous. After all, I was a music education major so I also had the piano to worry about. But over time I came to understand where he was coming from.

In a 7-day week, there are 168 hours. If you put forth the effort it will not be that difficult to dedicate ten of those hours to the guitar. Plus, you should always aim high.

Let’s say you are shooting for ten hours of practice time and you only manage to get in eight that week. Eight hours is a large amount of time to practice the guitar in a week. 

Chances are you would have already put in several more hours than your average player.

Conclusion

Stick With It, and Don’t Forget to Track Your Time!

As with anything, consistency and dedication will be the key factors to your success. These two factors will determine whether you progress with your guitar playing or not. 

You won’t be perfect, but you should strive to set goals and meet them.

If you miss a practice day don’t beat yourself up about it. Just move on and try to make sure you get your time in the next day.

And don’t spend your practice time trying to make up for a lost time. Focus on the task at hand. Don’t rush.

Take your time and get it right even if you have to practice the same thing repeatedly. You will get tired and frustrated. Trust me, your investment of time will pay off! 

The guitar is a demanding and challenging instrument to learn.

It demands a lot of dedication. Just keep at it and remember that it gives back so much more.

And there you have it…five simple ways you can make your guitar practice more productive. Don’t forget to share this article with your fellow guitar players. 

Feel free to leave comments or questions.

I always want to hear your feedback! You can get the Practice Log Sheet to your inbox by entering your email below. Take the first step and log your time.

And remember to aim for ten hours a week!

I’m Matt and you can learn more about me here. Feel free to view our Privacy Policy