Top 10 Guitar Practice Tips

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your practice time. These are pretty important and will help you enjoy your time with your guitar, if you heed these tips, you will learn better and faster! I have a whole Effective Practice series but it's likely to be overkill for beginners, but worth a look if you have concerns about practice!

Justin's Top 10 Practice Tips

Included in this list are some things that may not be very useful for a beginner, but try to remember them for later. These are the Ten Commandments of practice! They are explained in greater detail in the video.

Giving these simple ideas a bit of thought and then trying to stick to them will *really* make a difference to how fast you learn to play!!

1. Practice makes permanent, so practice perfectly.
This is a really important thing to remember. Your aim should be to never practice anything wrong, ever. Spend time making sure you have everything right before you start memorizing and physically practising things.

2. Practice things you struggle with, not what you can already do.
Many people avoid the things they can't do easily and so they never get better at them, and they work lots on things (particularly songs!) they can play already. Much better is to spend most of your practice time working on the hard stuff, and save the fun stuff for outside your practice schedule times.

3. Only speed up when you got it right.
Always start any new skill very slowly and be sure the movements are correct before trying to speed up. There are a couple of exceptions to this much later in your journey but for beginners this is a great general rule.

4. Break practice into 5-minute blocks.
Most people can't really concentrate for much longer, so use a countdown timer to keep you focussed and work in 5-minute blocks.

5. Focus on one element of practice at a time.
When you're doing a particular exercise, make sure you are aware of the element you should have your attention focused on. I will usually point this out when I give you your routine on each stage. 

6. Regular practice beats long sessions
Try to get a regular 5 days a week routine going, 15 minutes 5 days a week is much more effective than 2 hours once a week! The regularity helps things like muscle memory and you're also likely to get fatigued if you try to practice very long sessions.

7. Keep track of your practice
Use the practice schedules I give you along the way - it will help keep you motivated and you'll see how much you're practising and on what. The best thing is to tick off the boxes as you go for a good dose of positive reinforcement! :)

8. If it sounds good, it is good
Listen with your ears, not your mind. Many times beginner just think about what they're doing rather than listening and they worry about things they shouldn't. Listen, and if what you're doing sounds good - it is good!

9. Don't confuse Playing and Practicing
When you play something in a specific way with the aim of making it better you are practicing, don't confuse that with playing, which is exactly what the word is - play! I recommend 50% practice and 50% play. Too much practice and not enough play and you're likely to lose your way! The blurred lines is something like my Beginner Song Course app (available on Apple iOS and Android!) because it's so much fun but still proper 'song' practice!

10. The more you think, the more you stink!
The big goal is to practice until everything becomes instinctive. You shouldn't need to think about chords or strumming or anything, just let yourself get lost in the music. Knowing that that is the aim is helpful for beginners - by doing things over and over you'll be programming things to happen automatically and eventually instinctively, so allow that to happen!

The most important thing is to HAVE FUN!

If I have more time than your suggested routines, what extra things should I practice?

The best thing to do would be to have a 10-minute break to let your head clear and then do the whole thing again!


Beginner 1: First Steps