Do you have a set routine that you always stick to?
That’s pretty good if you do. If you can get a habit formed in terms of a regular practice time and practice style then you’re setting yourself up well for some awesome productive practice. I hear it takes around 11-12 weeks of continuous practice for a habit to become ingrained. So if you’re not practicing regularly, but you want to start getting the habit of it built-in set a reminder on your desktop calendar or on your phone that tells you it’s time for practice!
And don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to do it every single day (in fact I’d say giving yourself one day off out of seven is probably healthy). Just aim to practice most days out of seven in the week, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Something is better than nothing at all, and it is from these little baby steps that we gradually build up our practice, working with our natural abilities to become competent guitarists and fantastic musicians. One step at a time. And remember, if it takes around 11-12 weeks to build in a habit, it’s going to take you around three months to get that habit truly ingrained.
Set yourself a goal
If you’ve not got a regular practice time or practice schedule booked into the brain, set yourself a goal from now.
Right. If we’re in mid-September now, that takes 12 weeks out to around mid to end of November.
As well as that reminder in your phone, post in stopping points every four weeks to ask yourself where are you in terms of your daily or regular practice? Is it feeling ingrained? Is it working? Do you need to change something? Is there a better, easier or more productive time of day for you to practice?
Rinse and repeat – to a point..
I also hear that it takes our brains around 20 or days to learn new patterns – so don’t be stressing if you can’t get that chord change or finger movement yet or a piece memorised after a couple of days.
Do pick out a tricky spot from the music – you know, that little bugger of a finger twister, that funny little run, that “thing” in bar 12 or whatever – and work it through slowly methodically. Pick it apart. Find out EXACTLY what is going wrong, or rather what is not quite working right and what you need to do with your left hand fingers AND your right hand fingers to get it working as you want it to sound. Back it up a mo – just checking, you do know how you want it to sound right? Good, because that’s half the battle in getting to work. Know exactly what you want, and then it’s just a case of working on some of the mechanics for your fingers to deliver that for you.
Yes, do pick out that tricky spot, but DO NOT go repeating it countless times. If it’s still not working go back to figuring out what you need to do to fix it up. And if you’re not sure what that is then it’s definitely one that your teacher will be able to help you with!
So, yes repeat it a few times when you’ve got it more or less figured out. Do this S-L-O-W-L-Y. Don’t be in too much of a rush to get it up to speed just yet. There’s plenty of time for that. Just focus on getting it right, getting it settled, getting it sounding exactly how you want. Speed comes later, and only ever to serve the music.
And then leave it to sink in for a while. You might want to come back to it later in your practice session. You definitely want to pick out that little tricky spot in your next practice session. I can pretty much guarantee it will be a lot less tricky the next day and the next, until you will have forgotten what all the fuss was about!