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The secret to becoming a great guitar player is to practice your guitar, however sometimes it feels like you just don’t have enough time. When you do have time, it can be hard to know exactly to work on. ?The truth is that if you have just 20 minutes, you can treat yourself to a full practice session that covers everything you’re currently working on. ?And just like after a good workout, you feel accomplished afterwards!
Here is a short 3-part practice routine that ideally takes just 20 minutes.??It’s also designed to?give students a definite sense of completeness:?”I practiced everything I needed to in 20 minutes, I’m done!” so that practicing doesn’t feel open-ended or unfocused.??Students develop?”setlists” from day one, consisting of complete songs memorized.? Often, they tape?a piece of paper to the shoulder of their guitar with their setlist written on it (see last month’s article for how to create your own setlist).? The only rule is that a song can’t go on the setlist?till it’s truly memorized and able to?be played nonstop.
Here’s the routine, short?and sweet:
1. WARMUP:?(The?Spider, or any warm-up exercises your teacher has given you)
2. REVIEW: Play 2-3 songs from the setlist, nonstop, with correct chords (& lyrics if you so choose)
3. DIG IN: One or two new songs, new?concepts, or new?techniques, no more.
As a student, you can also grade your own progress. We all like to have markers to know where we stand, and grading yourself can help you pinpoint what you need to work on.?Notably, you can’t get?past Level?0 until you’ve actually listened to?a recording of the song. It’s amazing how often people play a song for weeks in class and have never actually heard the recording! Here is a rating system you can use:
Level 0: I haven?t listened to the song and/or don?t know how to play it at all.
Level 1: I have listened to the song, and can play with frequent mistakes and stops. I need the sheet music.
Level 2: I have listened to the song, and can play with a few mistakes and stops. I may need the sheet music.
Level 3: I have listened to the song, and can play with no mistakes and no stops. I have memorized it and don?t need the sheet music.
The next time you have 20 minutes free, sit down with your guitar and try to follow this schedule. Try to grade yourself on each song, which can give you a better sense of what needs work and what is ready to go on your setlist. ?Happy practicing!