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In a perfect world, the amount of time that you put into practicing the guitar would be equivalent to how good you are at the instrument. Unfortunately, this is not actually the case. There are several variables involved with your skill level on the guitar, the most important being the quality/method used in terms of practicing. Is your practicing efficient?
Just to preface here, don’t freak out if your practicing isn’t perfect! Mine wasn’t for many years (probably the first four of my years playing the guitar), but I still learned how to play at the professional level.
Without further ado, here are the top five signs that you’re wasting your practice time, and thus not improving as quickly as you otherwise could.
1. Guitar ADHD. You spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos absorbing knowledge, jumping around from one song to the other. You learn a lot, but don’t spend a lot of time actually practicing the ideas or the songs that you want to learn. Although gaining knowledge is important, it will not make you a better guitar player.
The best way to learn new things on guitar is to learn something small and then learn to apply it in many different situations. If you learn just a little bit, but you learn something that you can actually use, you’ll be much better off.
2. You haven’t gained any new information for a while.
This is the flip side of the first sign. You spend your time drilling songs and the chords you’ve used for years, and this will not make you a better guitar player. It’ll keep your fingers warm, but don’t expect to become a better guitar player by just doing the same thing you’ve always done.
This is common with people who spend most of their time just learning songs. They find themselves in a rut because they haven’t gone further in their learning habits.
3. You’re bored.
If you find yourself bored, you’re not going to be as focused as you should be while practicing, because you’ll just be focusing on the fact that you’re bored. You need to find another way around this.
Many times, people who get bored are doing the same thing over and over and over again. It may be time to change things up a bit. If you spend most of your time learning songs, try spending some time on focused skill development instead. And if you spend most of your time on skills, why not go learn a song that you’ve always wanted to learn? Variation is the spice of life, and this applies to everything you do, including playing the guitar. You can go even further than this and spend one day working on technique and rhythm, and then the next day on theory and phrasing, etc. Mix things up, and keep it fresh and interesting.
4. You doubt yourself, because you lack clarity.
Doubt can be destructive to progress. Many people doubt their ability to reach the playing level that they desire, and in most cases, this is due to a lack of clarity. By clarity I’m referring to the guitar player’s ability to recognize all of the skills that they need to learn in detail. I don’t mean simply stating that you need to work on technique, music theory, and rhythm. These concepts are too general. If you knew exactly what to practice and how to practice it, wouldn’t you be confident that you would reach your goal? The obvious answer is yes! When you lack clarity, you will find yourself more aimless in your practice sessions, which leads to low productivity.
Erase the doubt through research and outside help in order to figure out all of the missing pieces between where you are now and where you want to be. Once you have the details and the clarity, then all you need is the time to execute. Many people stop short and feel like they don’t know how to improve. But there is no excuse for this. Meet people and hire a teacher to help you get clarity, or use the internet to do some research on your own.
5. You know people who play better than you, but practice less than you.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re wasting practice time, the clearest sign is that you know someone who practices less or the same amount as you do, but is much better than you at playing the guitar. Although there are other factors that will play a role, since every person has their own challenges when it comes to music and a different overall background, it’s worth chatting with that person in order to see what they’re doing differently. Maybe they’ve thought of something that you didn’t, and which you could apply to your own practicing.
About the author:
Chris Glyde is always looking for ways to squeeze a little more progress out of every minute of his students’ practice and training. If you’re looking to get more from your guitar practice time, then come take guitar lessons with Chris in Rochester, New York. Chris Glyde also teaches voice lessons in Rochester.
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