Building a Practice Schedule For Beginners

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Guitar is life!
Guitar is life!

Building a Practice Schedule for beginners

One of the most asked questions by new guitarists is “How do I build a practice Schedule?”

Not a surprising question as this can be a very daunting task when starting out. Not only does one have to worry about buying the right kit, planning time to practice etc. but also about knowing what to practice and how to practice efficiently with the time you have.

Every guitarist plans their own time in various ways that suit them. Guitar is an Art form and so each guitarist must make their own decisions about how they wish to practice and what sort of guitarist they wish to become.

It is true that if we all followed the same practice routine there would be a chance that we may all end up sounding similar. As we look at Guitar as an art form, this is not a desirable outcome of many hours of hard practice!

There are however, many widely accepted good practices when it comes to building a practice regime. Some Important questions a beginner may ask can be summed up as follows;

What Style of Guitarist do I wish to become?

This in itself can also be a tricky question to answer if you are totally new to Guitar. Many of us pick up the guitar after being inspired by a famous guitarist or band. This is often a great thing because our guitar heroes often keep us inspired and give a refreshed interest in guitar practice.

If you already know the style you wish to play, e.g. Rock Guitarist, Shredder, or “any of the above” this is very useful as you can hand pick the techniques you wish to study right away. If like many, you don’t yet have an idea of what genre you wish to play, then you are also have the possibility of becoming a unique and original guitarist!

Choosing to learn as many techniques and styles as possible may be just the ticket to becoming a successful guitar virtuoso!

What should I practice

With such a massive library of lessons to choose from at GMC, it can be daunting to know where to start learning. It can be very tempting to pick a lesson in the style of your favourite Guitar hero, or an awe inspiring solo as your starting point. There is of course no reason why you cannot do this. However, it is the opinion of many that building a solid foundation of skills from which to work with may be a better option!

Building core techniques and concepts is a fantastic starting point for any guitarist for many reasons. The first and possibly the most important of these are to correct any “bad” habits you might already have. The second is to provide a solid foundation of core skills that every guitarist should have under their belt such as being able to improvise in a given key, phrasing, alternate picking etc.

Once these “key skills” and “core concepts” have been practiced, a beginner guitarist not only has a solid platform from which to work, but he/she will be able to start creating their own improvisations and jams. More advanced concepts and techniques should also be easier to tackle.

As mentioned earlier, choosing your own path is a good idea as you can be creative with your learning. However a suggested learning path may be helpful and can provide framework from which to build your own individual style. This is highlighted as follows;

GMC provides a fantastic Beginner “Kick–Off” course from which new players can mix and match lessons which are both fun to play and informative.

As a suggested path, players can continue to build a foundation of core techniques and concepts by moving straight to the “One on One (101)” lessons. These lessons cover “must have” techniques and important suggested practices such as using a Metronome when practicing.

You may then decide to concentrate more on specific techniques such as Alternate picking or Legato for example. You can mix and match lessons from the entire Video Library to help you acquire the skills you desire.

Try to be creative with your learning and pick lessons you Enjoy, as this is a key factor in keeping up motivation and becoming a successful guitarist.

How should I practice?

Many beginner guitarists are often unsure of how to practice effectively. You may have chosen your learning path, but still be unsure of how exactly to go about practicing the lessons correctly.

Each guitarist has their own ways of practicing, but often the saying “Perfect Practice make Perfect” holds the key to using your time most effectively.

If you choose just one or two lesson from which to work , practicing those two lessons to the point at which you have achieved a high standard of skill is often believed to be of far more benefit than trying to practice many lessons and not reaching a high standard of completion.

You will most likely see big improvement in your playing when you work through a lesson slowly but surely, paying attention to detail and doing your best to play it as the instructor has. Of course this often takes time and hard work, but it pays off giving you a higher quality of skill and knowledge. Skipping from lesson to lesson too quickly is one of the most common beginner mistakes.

You can of course become bored of doing one lessons day in day out for months. A suggested idea then would be to practice 2 – 3 lessons at any one time depending on how much practice time you have. A system of replacing an older lesson you have practiced well can be rotated to the back and a new lessons brought gradually in. This way you can achieve a good level of skill and keep your practice regime fresh and most of all fun.

Improvisation is also a key skill that doesn’t fall into the category of set exercise. You can choose when you practice improvisation techniques, but a suggestion would be to warm up with improvisation and move onto exercises after you have warmed up. This way you get an all important warm up to prevent injury and improvisation practice at the same time.

How do I use a Metronome when I practice?

Using a metronome is considered a great idea when starting out on guitar for many reasons. The Metronome allows a beginner guitarist to gain a sense of keeping the beat when practicing exercises. Good timing is considered by many as paramount in developing good technique and sounding professional.

A suggested practice when working through GMC exercises is to break the lesson down into portions, and practice each part to the metronome as required. This makes things easier to manage and the overall exercise more achievable. Once you have mastered each section you can practice the whole thing to your metronome from start to finish. Then when you’re ready you can try with the provided backing track.

Likewise, you can apply this approach to single licks. For example, if you are working on improvising over a pentatonic scale you can use the metronome to practice individual licks then apply them to your pentatonic jams.

Try to see the Metronome as your “secret weapon” when practicing. Apparently hard licks can soon be mastered with some solid metronome practice. It is also a great way of keeping track of your progress.

Final Summary

Keeping a methodical approach to building your practice routine can insure that you are making the most of the practice time you have. Practicing efficiently using some of the approaches mentioned above may ensure you do just that.

By focusing on the task at hand and working through it paying attention to detail you may be able to progress faster than if you spend twice the amount of time with little focus on a specific task.

Most importantly, try to keep your practice fun. After all, that is the main reason we play our beloved instrument. Experiment with you routine and keep a flexible approach! The perfect routine does not happen over night, but rather develops over time.

Good Luck and Practice Hard !