How Do You Get The Most Out Of Your Guitar Practice Time?

How Do You Get The Most Out Of Your Guitar Practice Time?

Tommaso Zillio

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guitar practice time

Have you ever heard a professional guitarist or maybe a YouTube guitarist say that you should practice for 2, 3, or 10 hours a day? (I am watching you, Steve Vai..)

Do you wonder where people acquire this amount of free time every day?

Because I do wonder about that! Is there a free time store that no one told you about where you can buy several extra hours a day?

Well, sadly enough, there is no free time store (but feel free to forward me the address in case you find one…)

Now, that’s the point where people go: “I don’t want to play 1000 notes per minute, so I don’t need to practice a lot…”

(Bull horn sound) Wrong! I’m not talking about “just” practicing guitar technique (i.e. speed, dexterity, etc.).

It takes time to learn theory, it takes time to learn new songs, it takes time to become more musical… whatever you want to do on guitar takes some practice.

And since we can’t increase the amount of time (*), then we are left with another possible solution: how can we get better at guitar faster in the time we have.

(*) Ok, technically we can increase it… but let’s say that the other option (see above) is usually much easier.

There are great ways of getting the most out of your practice time that you can start doing today so that you can make significant progress with your guitar without spending as much time practicing every day as teenagers spend sleeping.

Making the most out of your practice time is all about managing focus. Your own focus and attention are finite resources that deplete very quickly.

(I’m no exception… I have a very short atten… sorry, what was I saying again?)

So, while it might seem like you are doing great if you practice for 2 straight hours, you probably didn’t spend very much of that time truly focused on your practice.

This looks like a problem with no solution… what should you do?

In the video below, I share a trick with a student of mine that will make you improve more than you would in 2 hours of practice in less than half the time.

Do you want some new exercises that you can use to practice managing your focus with?

Well, look no further; check out my Master of the Modes guitar course, which you can use to skyrocket your knowledge of scales on modes and understand the fretboard like you never have before!

Video Transcription

Hello internet; so nice to see you! Now if we all had all the time we want, we will be practicing guitar for hours and hours every day, right? It will be there all day long practicing guitar, right? No, wrong.

Why? Because when you practice guitar, you have only a certain amount of concentration power available. Okay? There’s only so much time you can practice guitar and still be concentrated on what you’re doing and actually practicing before it devolves into aimless noodling, which is not practicing.

So even if we had infinite time, even if we had literally all the time in the world, we will not be practicing guitar all day long, because we can’t, we just don’t have enough concentration power to go on for hours and hours now.

But let’s say you have a lot of time, or let’s say you might want to make the most of the time you have, okay, but we have two possible roads here, okay, because again, we are limited in time and limited in concentration power. So we can either make the most of the time and concentration power we have, or we can learn to increase our concentration power.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make the most of the concentration power you have. And in a future video, I’m going to show you how to increase the concentration power you have. This is the inner game of music, guys. Okay, you get this, and practicing becomes super easy. Okay, so again, a student asked me, how do I make the most of the time and concentration power I have? And here’s my answer to him:

‘I need help with my focus. So, where I want to start this, with the current level of focus I have; how do I maximize my progress?’

‘Exactly? With your current level of concentration power? Okay, so let’s assume right now, we cannot increase, you’re gonna talk about this later, as we know. But with the current level of concentration power, you need to set up things in your favour.

Okay. The first recommendation I give you is this do not do extra long practice sessions per day say before, like, I sit down, I practice for two hours, and I feel like a hero because I practice for two hours. Yeah, you practice for 10 minutes of an hour and 50 minutes were wasted. So, it’s really hard to concentrate for a long period of time. Okay, even if you’re going to university, the typical lesson length is 45 minutes, and then you take 15 minutes of rest precisely because of that, okay?

But I think they don’t do enough in the sense that we should go even deeper than that so I will recommend, first of all, organizing your practice time so that you don’t do a single giant session when you do several micro sessions throughout the day.

It’s actually easier because you don’t have to free up all your afternoon and make sure nobody calls and close yourself in your room. You’re not gonna have to do that. So, you have several five-to-ten-minute sessions throughout the day. So, you wake up, practice five minutes, have your breakfast, practice five minutes, go about your day before lunch, practice five minute, cook your lunch, eat, practice.

Okay, so it’s gonna let us sneak it in anywhere and everywhere. Which has several advantages. Because say you miss one practice session. So what? You lost five minutes, okay, you have more time in the day, sneak in a few more. It’s very flexible. Okay. And the other thing is that you’re always fresh. Now, there are pros and cons. Because the pros, you’re always fresh, you’re always ready your concentration is at its peak all the time.

The problem is that you are not warmed up. Okay? This means that if you’re doing pure technique or pure speed, it needs to be a bit longer than five minutes, it could be 10 minutes, 15 minutes, for the very first few minutes you warm up and then you go in for the super fast exercises, the technique optimization and all this, okay.

But still, you can go really, really far with just those mini-practices, okay? I did it. It works great. You know, sometimes you have, I don’t know what job you’re doing right now. But if you, for instance, work from home like me, sometimes you’re writing an email, you have to do another thing and you have to wait for somebody to answer. Practice, okay. Just try to practice every time.

There was somebody once, and the name changes every time, somebody asked me, or asked somebody else okay, how much a musician has to practice and the famous person, whose name changes every time somebody tells the story, said a musician practices all the time. With a few small rests for eating and sleeping, and maybe go about your day job, okay?

But that’s the attitude, every time you’re not doing anything else, your default state is practicing. Okay? And you get better, much, much, much faster this way. The great enemy of concentration power is boredom. Okay. So, you practice something and you’re bored, and then you start noodling and doing something else. Okay? And people call this procrastination, okay, it happens, you find that you’re practicing and moments later, you find yourself scrolling on Facebook, because you’re bored, or maybe not that, you just find yourself noodling around and not doing the exercise.

So, here’s a possible solution. It works for me, and it worked for a few people they talked about, you do what is called creative procrastination. You’re working on three or four different things at a time. Whenever you get bored of one. You procrastinate by doing some of the other ones. And whenever you get tired, this one you procrastinate by doing the next one. Okay, so you’re always procrastinating.

I have a schedule, and what do I have to practice? I look at that. I think, no, that’s boring. And the next item, okay, so I can trick myself into thinking I am procrastinating or tricking myself into thinking that I’m going against my own schedule, when in reality, I just shift the schedule five minutes. Okay. It’s a silly trick. But for some reason, it works great. Okay. Make sense?’

‘How do you make sure you’re still on track?’

‘Because I’m always working on those three or four things. And if I’m procrastinating on A to do B, the day after I’m procrastinating on B by doing A. Okay. So, the thing is, I’m still working on those three things. Make sense?

But essentially, I still give myself some freedom on what I want to practice. And then every now and then I just check, am I on the right track? Am I on schedule with my goals and all these kinds of things? Okay. But see, that’s the thing I like to have those goals written down. For my practice, I like having my track which lets me know those micro goals, like I need to increase the speed in seven days and this kind of thing.

But at the same time, this instrument is supposed to be fun. If you put too much structure into it, it’s not fun anymore. If you put no structure, it’s no fun either. Because you’re not doing anything. So, you need to find the right equilibrium point. Making sense?’

‘I think I am on both extremes at the moment, I shift between no structure and all the structure. And then I don’t do the structure because there’s too much.’

‘Find something in between. Okay, find something, and say it. One possible idea is, that you schedule five minutes a day, the first part of the day, five minutes is about scales, and the next five minutes are about arpeggios, okay? But it could be any scale exercise, when you don’t write down, play the Lydian scale up and down, okay? It can be any scale. Okay?

One thing I used to do for a time, and it worked great for me is this. For every exercise I wanted to do, I was either writing it down or print it and put it in a folder. So, you have my folder for scale exercises, my folder for arpeggio exercises, my folder for chord exercises, I mean, this is not doesn’t need to be only technical it could be theory, my folder for chord progressions, and all this kind of makes sense.

I’ve had that since I started, yes. Then I have my schedule it says, 10 minutes of scales, I grabbed my folder, I open it, and do the first exercise, if I didn’t like it, I just flip it, put these under the formula at the bottom of the folder, and to the second, and so on and so forth. I mean, I just flipped around to find something I like, and I do it. If I really don’t like doing scales, I close it and go to the next item, okay, and I put the whole folder on the bottom. So, this way, I’m never practicing something that I don’t feel like practicing at that specific moment. because I give myself the choice.

The trick is to make this choice as fast as possible. So, you don’t spend four minutes and a half choosing what you want to practice and then 30 seconds practicing it.’

‘And to make sure you still practicing what’s relevant.’

‘Yes, but that’s the thing. If anything is not relevant, you take it out of the folder. So, it’s not on the table like literally not on the table. Okay? Make sense? You just stack all the systems in your favor so that you can do both what is relevant and what you feel like doing at that moment.

Also, you have to schedule some fun. You cannot if you have two hours of practice and the guitar every day, which is like a lot if you have it okay? But I mean I’m not saying I’m not the one to assume you have this time or you have more you have less or more I’m just saying a number okay? But if you have two hours, you want to schedule half an hour to one hour of fun out of that. Okay, where you learn the songs you want, or learn a solo, just improvise, goof off, experiment, noodle around, make noise, whatever, crank the amp up until the neighbors complain, okay, and all these kinds of things. Makes sense.

Because that’s the thing. This instrument is supposed to be fun. Okay, the whole point, this instrument was invented to have fun. Okay, as opposed to many other instruments, okay? Those torture devices or other things, okay, or they could be wonderful instruments, but this was explicitly made to have fun. It was explicitly made to make loud stinky noise, okay, louder than any other instrument. Okay, so that we could have fun.

If you are just, you’re always regimented and technical and clinical and analytical. You lose the point of this. And then you’re not having any fun and you don’t sound good anymore either. So, there must be some time when you can tell yourself now, that’s my time to do whatever I want with this. Which, by the way, in some days will also be like, okay, I’m putting it down and then doing something else because that could happen. But in some days, it just, I’m gonna wake up other people three blocks from here for taking a nap. Okay. So far, so good.? Like it? fantastic. So, there will be your first question.’

‘Thank you.’

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