We’ve all heard of work-life balance – finding that (perhaps mythical?!) equilibrium between making ones living and enjoying life (although that definition presupposes that we may not enjoy our work…), spending quality time with family and friends and so on.
Well, for those of us that are guitar nuts then we have to find not only balance between work and life, but also find time for good quality guitar practice and playing. Yes, this I call work-life-guitar balance!
And believe you me I know all about this! For those of you less familiar with me and/or this blog it may come as a surprise that I have a day job outside of the wonders of the guitar world (strictly speaking you could say I have to find work-life-guitar-blog balance!). Yes as well as guitar-related activities, I have been studying, running my own business and most recently joining a large organisation.
I’ve been a busy bee as they say! So when I talk about this work-life-guitar balance and share with you my thoughts and advice on getting the most out of your practice it very much comes from first hand experience and having been there myself! I know EXACTLY what it feels like folks!! I’m right there with you!
My top five tips for work-life-guitar balance
So here are my top five tips for maintaining that work-life-guitar balance whilst really making progress and pushing forward with your development on the guitar.
1. Build the practice habit with a little bit and often – consistent, regular practice is key to making progress. Even if it’s 10 minutes every day or sat half an hour most days of the week. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll progress much faster that way than finding a two hour slot on a Sunday afternoon and practicing just one or maybe twice a week. You’ll be surprised where you can find 10 – 30 minutes each day in your schedule if you really want to.
2. Work out a schedule of practice – sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming to know you should be practicing scales, technical exercises, studies and two, three or more pieces (especially if you’re gearing up for a grade exam). I recommend breaking things down over the week – understand what you need to spend time on the most but also schedule in some other time in the week for other things. You’ll be surprised at what you can fit in across 5 or 6 days.
3. Practice critically but not judgmentally – to really make the most of your practice time with the guitar you really need to switch the brain cells to full work mode. Really think about what it is you’re doing, why, how, the sound you’re making, what might need tweaking and how you might go about that and so on and so forth. Ask yourself questions like “is this how I want this section or phrase to sound?” or “What do I need to do with my left or right hand here to make this transition smoother?” Ask yourself questions like this in a non-judgmental way though – don’t beat up on yourself for not being able to quite pull off that slur yet! That’s really not going to help!
4. Accept that life happens – sometimes you might have to work late, or the kids/ dog/ partner/ your folks are sick, or you might have to go away for work. Worry not! Relax and roll with it. The guitar will still be there when life gets back on a more even keel again and the rest from it may even have done you some good.
5. Enjoy it – we play this instrument because we love it so. Yes, there will be times when we might get frustrated with our practice or things are not happening as fast as we like, but overall we should be enjoying ourselves practicing and playing guitar. And don’t let it become a chore or a grind or something that’s getting in the way of life. Technical exercise after technical exercise makes Jack a dull guitarist – cut loose every now and then enjoy it!!