Practice routine

Hey Everyone!

I often find myself practicing the same amount of material over and over. I practice some days for hours, yet going over and over in a looping way the same material. I practice a lot of scales, chord (open/Bar) changes, songs, riffs and exercises (finger stretching etc). While I have some of it down pretty well, I still push myself to get better. I do see progress, but I may be expecting more given the amount of time I spend. Is this normal? and should I be taking a different approach with my practice and what I practice on a daily basis? I have been using Justin’s beginner system as well as YouTube videos to this point, but I’m not sure if I would benefit from instructor-led training. Anyone else feel like this with their practice routine?

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I think we all feel like this sometimes. Here’s my advice:

You don’t need to do finger exercises, just play. If you want to get better at hammer-ons and pull-offs or bends, just practice doing those. Your fingers will get stronger by playing automatically. As far as stretching, I recommend quick active stretches to warm up before you play (only hold for a second or two, keep switching back and forth) and longer stretches to cool down after you’re done (hold for 30 seconds, repeat two more times, then switch).

The best way to judge progress is to record your progress (either actually recording how you play, or jotting down how many chord changes you did, what tempo you played at) so that you can compare a week or a month later. This will let you judge how much progress you’re making. I’ve had times where I felt like I wasn’t making any progress, but then I looked back at where I was previously and realized that I was actually much farther along.

Instructor led training is always great. If you can take lessons, do so. But you’ll still want to record your progress because you’ll still have times where you feel like you’re not making progress, so it’s good to be able to go back and compare.

Thank you Tim! I appreciate the feedback.

And as far as what to practice on a daily basis, there’s no right or wrong answer, but the common recommendation is to spend half your time practicing songs. But you may need to work up to that. In the beginning it’s not uncommon to spend 90% of your time on technique and exercises.

The wonder and curse of learning guitar is that it’s a never ending process, and there’s always something new to learn. As long as you’re learning, it’s all good.

Thanks Tim.

And to add, you’re right about dedicating half my time to songs. What I find is when I’m practicing the songs and something doesn’t work/sound right, I immediately go back to practicing the techniques assuming that will make my song playing better.

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@albeaulieu44 Welcome to the Community Al.

All I’d add to the conversation you’ve had with @Timobkg is to consider making some simple video recordings of you playing songs. This needs be no more than made with a mobile phone. You can post them in either #record-yourself-progress-performance:audio-video-of-you-playing or start a Learning Log in #community-hub:learning-logs and post there.

The benefit of this is both feedback on how you are doing as well as encouragement which helps calibrate progress and keep the fires burning.

Hey Al,

Just wondering, where you say you’re practicing the same material over and over. Are you practicing certain knowledge areas, skills, etc using the same drills/ exercises? If so, thats going to get boring pretty quickly, and not provide the variety necessary to develop.

Take scales for example. Not sure where you’re at with them, but say you’ve got Pattern 1 ( E shape) of the Major scale under your fingers at a decent tempo up and down. Not much point keeping on doing that exclusively forever as, one, you already know it, and two, its not really musical, nor developing skills. Try practicing it 3 in a line, 4 in a line, skipping strings, playing it in 3rds, 5ths, playing it with one finger, doing little melodies on the top 3, middle 3, bottom 3 strings. The possibilities are endless. One benefit is you’ll defeat the boredom, as you’re constantly challenging yourself, and two, more importantly, your practical knowlege of the scale will develop to a deeper level. The more angles you approach it from, the more your practical knowledge of it will deepen, and the skills learnt will be transferable.

Same idea with chords, triads, arpeggios riffs etc. Justin provides some great info in many of his lessons, plus there a gazillion more exercises on the internet.

All the best,
Cheers, Shane

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Thank you both Shane and David. I appreciate you taking the time to provide your great feedback.