Three Simple Steps to Improve Your Guitar Practice
As a teacher my job most of the time is to teach people how to practice. It's like teaching them to take the right steps ups a mountain. How you practice is how you play. Therefore, I am constantly learning and experimenting with ways to make my own practice effective. This translates into helping my students achieve the results they desire.
More often than not, these ideas cross over to every other aspect of life as well. These are not the only three steps to improving your guitar practice but they are simple enough to put into practice immediately. You'll have a clearer picture of your practice and a plan to move your guitar playing forward,
Step 1: Buy A Notebook
This seems easy enough. If you don't feel like making a trip to the store, then click this link and buy one on Amazon right now! Alright, now that you have a notebook you can begin to use a pen (I like these pens in case you want some of those too) to keep track of the next two steps. Why not use your phone or tablet you may ask? In recent studies, writing has been shown to be a much more effective way to retain information than typing (see here). More than that, I have found a notebook allows for an easier view of the past than seeing it digitally on a screen. You can just flip back to where you have been to see your journey.
Step 2: Write What You Just Did
After you finish practicing a piece or scales or a technical study, write down what you just did. Don't just put that you played this or that. Be honest and make notes about where you felt you were successful and where you need work. It is often difficult for us to be realistic in our own practice and this, of course, is where a teacher's guidance becomes very useful. As you study with a teacher, you will begin to ask the questions that will allow you to see where the root of your challenges lie in a specific piece or study.
More than anything, just do it and begin to keep a steady record. Also, don't wait until the end of your entire practice session to make the notes. You need to make them as soon as you finish a specific task. By doing it immediately you will be more specific and better able to analyze what you have done.
Step 3: Write What You Will Do Tomorrow
The next step is to take an honest look at what you just wrote about your current state of practice and then write an action plan for tomorrow. You could specify specific measures to focus on or a tempo marking to work towards. The goal is to be as specific and objective as possible. When you sit down to practice the next day, the action plan becomes your plan for practice. It streamlines your guitar practice by becoming very focused immediately upon sitting down to practice.
Obviously we all have to practice to improve our guitar playing. But most of really stink at practicing and organizing practice. Just doing this simple process will ensure that you every time you sit down you are purposefully working to achieve your desired goals for playing the guitar.