How To Practice Guitar For Maximum Effectiveness

by Tommaso Zillio

What is the best way to improve your guitar playing and avoid frustration? There are few dos and a few don’ts you want to be aware of when you are practicing your instrument that will make everything easier for you. Here we go:

Things that will make your practice easier:

  • Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. The secret of speed is to learn everything slow and relaxed. If you can’t play it a a slow tempo, do not try to speed it up. Patience young grasshopper: soon you will be shredding.
  • Use a practice schedule – ask your teacher for help. This will keep you focused on the important thing and will immensely speed up your progress.
  • Concentrate on only one thing at a time. You can’t practice two different things at the same time. If you try to fix everything that you do not like in your playing at the same time, then you are not really focusing. Remember: man who chases two rabbits catches none.
  • Be sure that your teacher approves your practice schedule! He/she knows better than you what is the right order to study things. It’s ok to ask questions like: “is this what I should practice right now?” You will be surprised at how a good teacher can help you there.

Things you totally do NOT want to do:

  • Follow ‘shiny objects’. Stop searching new lessons on YouTube or check out guitar magazines. . . these are just ‘flashy’, ‘shiny’ things that may be fun for a moment but will do nothing to make you a better player. Instead, work on what your teacher told you to practice.
  • Waste time. To avoid it, eliminate any TV, phone, computer, etc from your practice space. When you practice, do not do anything else but practicing.
  • Follow more than one teacher. That’s a definite no-no. Different teachers will have different teaching methods, and even if you luck out and find two great teachers (unlikely: one will typically be much better than the other. . . ) they will lead you through two different paths. The destination of the paths may even be the same, but you can’t follow two paths at the same time: it will hopelessly confuse you and your fingers.

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional teacher and guitar player, and he’s a respected writer of guitar columns. In his music schools he gives acoustic guitar lessons in Edmonton to many local up and coming guitar players.