20 Practice Tips

Hello everybody. In this article I'm going to give you 20 practice tips, so you can improve your guitar playing. Read each tip carefully, and try to analyze it. If you feel any of these tips don't work for you, then don't use them.

These examples and tips are intended to help everybody who seeks ways to improve on their instrument. For these tips, with the time that takes to write them, and the dedication to do it, many people would charge you. It's not nice to say, but it's the truth. So, the only thing I will ask you in exchange for the suggestions and advice I'm giving you is that when the time comes, you'll share your knowledge with other people, kindly and with your heart. And always remember: at one time, you were in the same circumstances, you were seeking information and somebody shared with you the tips you needed to improve in the way you wanted.

If my advice serve you well, then I will be more than glad. I hope you take advantage of these words and you enjoy your results.

1. Have a Goal

It's very important to know what, how and why are you going to practice. Your progress will depend on this. If you have a goal in mind, and you already know the reasons you are practicing, then you will get results more quickly.

2. Make a Schedule

I recommend that you organize your time. This way you will be able to do more things in less time.

3. Be Disciplined

To be disciplined doesn't mean to be a soldier, or something like that. It means to get used to doing what you have to do, at the time and place you need to. This way you will make sure that you will not be wasting your time, or lose the practicing habit.

4. Use a Metronome

It's very important to use a metronome so you can hear and feel the correct beat all the time. I recommend using it most of the time. On some occasions you could practice without a metronome to hear and feel your timekeeping progress. I suggest you do this when you want to improvise, or practice in a very relaxed way. But, as a musician, your metronome should be a toy to carry for life.

5. Tune your Guitar

It's essential that your guitar always be in tune. Your guitar intonation is your voice, and your voice is the sound you will use to communicate with other people and with yourself.

6. Find a Comfortable Position

When you are going to play guitar anywhere (at home practicing, on stage with a band, etc.), you need to feel comfortable playing. This way you will play without problems, and you will enjoy it much more than if you were to adopt an uncomfortably 'correct' position.

7. Play it Slow First

It's very important to understand that all things in life have processes, and processes take time. When you are a baby you can't walk, much less run. So, first you need to learn to crawl, then to walk, and then to run. It may be difficult at first, but I assure you, it's the correct and better way to reach your objective. Remember: will, constancy and patience.

8. Focus on Quality and Clarity of Sound

It doesn't matter if you simply practice in your home, without anybody seeing or hearing you. You need to be aware at all times of your playing quality and the clarity of your sound. Why? Because when you are playing on stage or anywhere else, you will sound exacty as you sound when you are practicing.

9. Learn Different Styles and Find Your Own

You need to know learn how different styles of guitar technique can be applied or assimilated into your own guitar playing. Then, after you learn different guitar playing techniques, then you need to find your own. Techniques are invented by musicians who looked for better ways to play, found it comfortable to play their instrument in that way, and they took advantage of it. So, seek a way you can play comfortably, and that allows you to play the ideas in your mind the best way possible. When you find that way, that will become your own personal technique. It's important to know that not every technique that may serve other artists, will serve you. So that's why you need to do your own research and experimentation, and find 'your' own way to express your feelings as best as you can.

10. Practice Each Exercise Thoroughly

Sometimes it's boring practicing exercises, and this has many causes: if you are not focused while practicing, if you are not very motivated to get better, or if the exercise simply doesn't like you. There could be a million other reasons. Anyway, what I want to tell you is that if you think a perticular exercise will not help you very much in your playing, then don't practice it anymore. If you do think that exercise will help you in your guitar playing, then you need to practice it enough times until you master it. That's the main reason to practice. To master your guitar in the best possible way to express the ideas you hear in your mind.

11. Don't Practice Always the Same Things

It's important to change the exercises when you mastered the ones you currently practice. Practicing the same exercises indefinitely will be useless and it will just take more time. So, I recommend that you practice different things when you've already mastered your current exercises, or when you are not seeing progress in your guitar playing. Continue practicing the same exercises when you still haven't mastered an exercise, when you've lost the mastery you had over them, or when you use them to warm up for certain songs or occasions.

12. Relax

Playing relaxed is the best way to play because you can play with flow, and if you play with flow you will be able to handle your guitar much better. So at some point, if you feel nervous playing for some person, or a crowd, just take a deep breath and remember the reasons why you began to play guitar.

13. Increase Speed With Time

Make sure to increase the speed of your exercises only when you feel enough mastery at your current beat time. At that point it's time to increase the tempo until you reach the speeds you want. But remember to do this gradually. Don't try to be like the little baby who tries to run...

14. Don't Practice Until your Fingers Bleed

Excess in many things in life can produce poor results. I would dare to say all, but anyway... In this case, let's say, when you try to force your brain and body to do more than they can do, you will force them to do something in an incorrect way. And the next time you play, it will sound like the last time. So, here is my suggestion, practice as much as you want, while your brain understands all the information correctly, and your fingers are doing what your brain says.

15. Feel Every Note you Practice

Some people usually assign less importance to practicing, because it's not "real playing" compared with a gig or a supposedly "more important" event. But the truth is that practice can have the same importance as a gig or any other important event, and this is because what you do when you are practicing will be reflected on a stage when you play. So, listen to what you are doing when you are practicing, because that's how you will play in other situations. Feel every note, every scale, every chord, every sound that comes from your guitar.

16. Record Yourself

A great way to know how much you have advanced is to record yourself. Then you will hear the reality of your playing. And you will discover errors maybe you don't usually hear when you are playing. This is an excellent way to test yourself.

17. Play Sitting, Only If You Will Play Sitting on a Stage

It may be very cool to be sitting all the time practicing, but when you stand up sometimes you can't play certain things in the same way or with the same ability as when you were sitting. The reason is because you and your body (hands and fingers) get used to being in a certain position. When you stand up, your body posture changes and your hand and finger positions change as well. So, what I recommend is to practice both ways. Practice standing up, and when you get tired, sit down a little bit. When you get tired sitting, then stand up and that will not only keep you fresh and less tired, but it will help you to master your instrument in a variety of different positions.

18. Practice to be Better Than Yourself

Now it's time to ask yourself, why did I choose to play guitar? If you chose to play guitar because you like to express your feelings and ideas, I have good news for you, you have your entire life to learn how to play better and sound as you like. If you decided to learn guitar to compete with other people, then I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that there will always be many people worse than you. The bad news is that there will always be people the same, or better than you. My recommendation is to play the guitar for yourself, feel what you play, and practice to be better than yourself.

19. Don't Forget to Improvise

After practicing exercises it's great to improvise, so that you can apply what you've practiced, and so that you can hear, feel and know how the excercises and scales apply to a real-world situation.

20. Enjoy it

What are you waiting for?

William Wiegand is a guitarist from Mexico who has played with bands in his own country, as well as with an original rock band in Miami.

He is currently hard at work on his debut album, which will feature instrumental guitar music.

William Wiegand