Practicing guitar should be fun. The more fun you have while practicing, the more likely you are to make consistent progress. However, if you don’t regularly change up your practice routine, you can easily get stuck in a practice rut and find yourself not making consistent progress. This can be really frustrating because if you are not making consistent progress, you can easily get uninspired and lose the drive to practice. If this has happened to you, don’t worry! This is completely normal and happens to every guitar player no matter what their skill level.
The players that make consistent progress keep their practice routines interesting by finding new and stimulating ways to practice (even if they are working on the same exact exercise!). This can be done at any skill level.
Here are some ways you can do the same.
Find creative ways to practice
There are many many ways to practice the same thing. If you find yourself not making significant progress on a particular skill area, you can find new ways to work on the same thing. For example, if you are struggling with changing between two chords, try alternating between fretting those chords and just holding down those chord shapes without fretting. This is easier on your hands and also helps with the muscle memory in your hands. This can be applied to any other area of practice you can think of, including lead guitar!
Another way to keep things interesting is to practice over a backing track or a drum track. This will make it seem like you’re not just playing by yourself, without the pressure of playing with an actual band.
You can also try changing up the sequence of what you’re practicing. For example, if you are working on a C Am F G progression, you could rearrange the chords to Am G C F. You could even work on a completely new set of chords and come back to the original progression later with a fresh set of ears. These are just some simple ideas to think about. Be as creative as you can and create new ways to change up your routine.
Practice with the end in mind
If you even get stuck in a plateau and find yourself not making progress, a good way to get out of it is to look back to the time you first picked up your guitar. Imagine how it felt when you were first trying to hold down your C chord or visualise the major scale on one string.
Every new thing you learn is a challenge only in the beginning. With this perspective, any struggle you face can easily be overcome. Think of where you are now compared to when you first started. Then, think of where you will be in a month, 3 months 6 months or even a year from now. Having this perspective is a great motivational tool and allows you to pull through any temporary challenge you may face on the guitar.
The best thing about practicing guitar is that the time it takes for you to learn something new decreases exponentially. If it took you 2 weeks to learn a particular chord, it will surely take you less than 2 weeks to learn the next chord, and even less time to learn the next chord. Eventually you will be able to learn any chord immediately!
Take a break or do something else
Another great way to keep your practice routine feeling fresh and interesting is to just simply take a break. If you are doing the same thing over and over again without any progress, just leave it for a while. Instead, play anything that you’re already really good at. It could be your favorite song or solo. Anything which feels easy for you will work. This gives you that feeling of satisfaction when you play something that sounds and feels good. You can even just try experimenting with new improvisation ideas using the skills and techniques you can already execute. Once you are motivated, come back to what you were initially working on.
This article has only suggested some simple ways to keep your practice routine fun and stimulating. You can try coming up with your own ideas. Remember, guitar playing should always be fun and if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right!
Learning to play guitar on your own can be frustrating and challenging, especially if you don’t know what to do. Having a great teacher makes the whole process more fun, enjoyable and gets you real results fast.