How To Create A Better Guitar Practice Routine

A big question I get from my readers and fans is: How to create a better guitar practice routine so that they can make better progress? They know they have to practice their guitar but they don't really know how to go about it. Below are some suggestions I would make if you are just getting started with the guitar or are looking for a better practice routine over the week.

Step 1. Define Your Schedule

The most important things when it comes to practicing the guitar is defining exactly when you are going to practice each and every week and for how long. Now, in the beginning, this might only be 10-15 minutes and that's is perfectly fine. Set your schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - practice in the morning 10-15 minutes before I go to work or when you get home for the day. Define what you are capable of doing, then design the routine.

Also, don't feel like you have to practice for an hour if you don't have the time. It's better to practice 10-15 minutes 3-4 times a week than it is to practice for and hour once a week. I know a lot of students who feel like it they don't have 30-60 minutes it's not worth practicing. Even if it's 5 minutes, it worth practicing! 

Step 2. Use Your Time Wisely

A lot of students get overwhelmed with their guitar playing because they try to learn and focus on too many things at once. In the beginning, I like breaking guitar down into 3 fundamentals - Rhythm (strumming); Chords; and Dexterity (Picking). When practicing, focus on spending your time working on 1-3 of these key concepts. When I start teaching guitar, I spend a lot of time on building hand dexterity, chords and chord change speed. There is no point in learning a bunch of strumming patterns if you can't even switch chord. Below are some sample routines.

Routine Example 1 - 15 minutes

5 min Warm-up (picking exercise)
5 min Chord Changes (2-4 chords at a time; G, Em, C, D or A, D E)
5 min Rhythm Work 

Routine Example 2 - 15 min with Chord focus

5 min Warm-up (picking exercise)
10 min Chord Changes (2-4 chords at a time; G, Em, C, D; A, D E)

Routine Example 3 - 30 minutes

6 minute warm-up (picking)
10 min Chord changes
6 min Rhythm Work
8 min Application of Skills (song practice)

TIP: Use a timer. You'd be surprised how long 5 minutes is if you REALLY practice for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Focus On Your Weaknesses

If you want to play songs to have fun but your chord changes are not quick enough, then you need to spend the majority of your practice time on hand dexterity and chord changes. Like I said earlier, there is no point in learning a song yet if you don't know the chords or can't change between them at at least 40bpm. Songs are great, but they are the reward. Save playing your guitar for the end of your practice time. There IS a difference between playing your guitar and practicing. Focus on practicing first and reward yourself with the fun songs afterwards.

Step 4: Track Your Progress With A Metronome

The biggest mistake I see guitar students make is not tracking their progress. How will you know if you are making improvements from week to week and month to month? Keep a journal where you write down your practice speeds. For example If you are practicing chord charges for your first 4 chords you should write them all down as below:

Em to C: 30 bpm
Em to G: 28 bpm
Em to D: 25 bpm
C to G: 15 bpm
C to D: 20 bpm
G to D: 18 bpm

Every week you should push yourself to increase your speed using a metronome. Even if it's only 3-5 bpm each week. That's progress! But not only that, you can actually see that you are improving which is a huge motivator and will help you want to practice more and stick with learning the guitar.

I hope these practice tips and sample routines helped you think about your guitar practice routine in a different way.