Five Tips for Practicing

There’s only one way to get better at guitar: practice. I already gave you some thoughts on practicing from some of the great guitar players, but now it’s my turn. Here are some tips to help you improve your playing at a faster rate.

  1. Call it by another name. Don’t call your time with the guitar “practice.” Rather, call it “play.” The word practice makes it feel like a chore, and no one like to do chores. If you think of it as playtime, you’ll be more likely to pick up the guitar on a daily basis, which leads me to the next tip.
  2. Play everyday. We get better faster if we remind our brains everyday what it is we are trying to learn. It takes many reminders for our brains to convert short term memory into long term memory. If we play everyday, we convince our brains that guitar playing is important and it’s movements and concepts should be stored in long term memory.
  3. Play slowly. Every bad repetition negates a good one. The trick to learning a new song, lick or chord as fast as possible is lots of quality repetitions where every note is played well. If you rush and play at too high of a tempo too soon, you’ll make mistakes. Mistakes set the clock back and keep you from your goal.
  4. Play with a metronome. Not only will a metronome improve your sense of time and groove, it will also help you benchmark yourself. If the lick that you want to learn is played at 140 bpm, but you can only manage it at 110 bpm on your metronome, that gives you an idea of how far you need to go. And when you improve the tempo to 120 bpm the next day, you will feel good about your progress.
  5. Have a goal. Don’t just pick up the guitar and play aimlessly, but rather set a goal for each session. Learn the next section of a song you’re learning, for example. Figure out that cool lick in that song you like. Work on the next three pages in a method book. Any goal is better than none at all.

For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit

2 responses to “Five Tips for Practicing

  1. Pingback: Expanded practice tip #1: Call it by another name | Guitar Lessons Baltimore·

  2. Pingback: Expanded practice tip #4: Have a goal | Guitar Lessons Baltimore·

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