For those of us who battle with the hectic modern lifestyle it can often be difficult to make time for practice. Families, work and life’s little surprises always have a habit of getting in the way of a good practice session! When we do make some time for practice it is important to make that precious time count. So here are five very simple things that will make your practice more efficient and enjoyable.
1. Nails and strings
Preparing your nails and making sure that your strings are in good condition can make the difference between a frustrating and enjoyable practice session. Left hand nails that are not clipped short can make you feel inaccurate and create string buzzing, similarly, by not preparing your right hand nails before practicing you will not be making your best sound and you should always try play with your best sound for both consistency and enjoyment.
2. Stretch and warm up
You young ones out there can probably get away with jumping out of bed and pumping through scales at full speed but as many of you know, once you pass through those care free twenties… things start to change. Develop the habit of stretching before during and after practice session along with a warm up routine of scales and exercises. Your body will thank you later.
Practicing without a purpose will always give mixed results. However, if you take the time to decide on a few goals for your practice session – like mastering a particular passage or improving your tone – then you will advance more quickly and you will also feel more satisfied with your practice session.
Many centuries ago the notation gods and the guitar gods must have had a falling out because guitarists seem to have a marked aversion to using a score while practicing. Often we guitarists will abandon a piece once it has been committed to memory and because of this we can easily wander through pieces playing random parts here and there without any real focus. Keep the score nearby, become more fluent in reading notation and benefit from a more structured practice session.
If you really want to make a difference in your playing take the extra step of recording yourself playing a piece. Of course, recording alone will not make the difference… you have to listen to it! Mark down any weak spots in your playing and make an effort to improve them. Become the best teacher you ever had.
Leave your own practice suggestions in the comments below.