Thoughts on "practicing" while doing other stuff

Hi all

I just wondered what people’s thoughts and opinions were on the act of practicing guitar while doing other things (eg watching TV).

I like to dedicate 30+ mins every day to practice guitar with 100% focus and no other distractions - guitar time only. But I wondered if there’d be any value in doing some basic exercises (eg switching between chords) while doing other tasks (in addition to my scheduled practice time). It seems like it would be a good way to engrain those tasks and make them automatic if I can do it while focused on other stuff, but I’m not sure if practicing without 100% focus may encourage me to develop bad habits.

What do you guys do as far as practice? Do you always give 100% focus when practicing guitar or do you do things like my example above?

Several times Justin has commented on practicing repetitive exercises while talking to someone or thinking of something else.

I like to watch football and do strumming or finger patterns or even perfect fast changes over and over. I even have my amp and headphones set up to feed the football game in.

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Practicing while being distracted is good as long as what you’re
practicing isn’t something new. Doing repetitive tasks like scale
or even licks or whole songs when watching TV can be very helpful.

Ever wonder how a guitarist and bass player can talk to each
other on stage when performing?
Sometimes I’ll try and play along with the commercials. Helps to
keep the ears sharp.

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Well I suspect nothing wrong with this method as long as you are practicing something you already know, like a strumming pattern or finger gym excercises. I would do it myself, however most of the times I watch TV together with my wife and if I would be practicing while watching something she would probably smack me in the head with the guitar :rofl: so I dedicate myself 100% to practice.

Hey Ryan,

I have a 1hr practice schedule, structured focused, no TV, internet, no talking to anyone.

Outside of that, I’ll often be doing things like scale runs, rhythm patterns, finger exercises, riffs etc with other things going on around me. Usually things I’ve already practiced alot at a decent tempo with no errors.
And for singing/ playing at the same time, it’s necessary to get the guitar part on autopilot - something I’m working on the moment. Justin has a great lesson on this, part of which details distracting yourself with TV, conversation etc, while playing.

Cheers, Shane

Surely Adrian, you’re wife wouldn’t do that to such a decent bloke as yourself :innocent:

Me, on the other hand…I’ve been asking my wife for a decent flogging for years :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


As they say tough crowd me wife is :laughing:

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I set aside dedicated, focused practice time with no distractions. However, I also do an awful lot of playing while watching TV. As others have said, it’s usually stuff I already know fairly well, but I’ll also do things like improvise or play along with music that comes up on the show or movie or whatever. That’s often kinda cool.

Surely Adrian, your wife wouldn’t do that to your guitar!:scream:

Hey Adrian, I have the perfect show for you and your wife, it’s an old Hanna-Barbera carton from back in the 60’s
El Kabong Smashing Folks - YouTube



Does anyone else time slice some of their practice?

I do some while doing things like cooking dinner, where I have 5-10 minutes waiting for something to be turned or stirred, I can quickly go and do some chords changes, 5 minutes strumming, etc.

That is exactly how I imagine it would end up if I started doing scales during any TV show :joy:

It’s a personal thing. I believe.

Some people can cycle and listen to music at the same time. Quick way to an untimely demise, I say. Others among us devote 100% focus to practice. I’m in the latter group.

To ground ourselves, we need to ask, “WWJD”? That is to say, what would Justin do?

His mantra is not that practice makes perfect, but that practice makes permanent. If your multi-tasking practice reinforces permanent good habits, go ahead.

If you find out after a distracted session that you have reinforced a bad habit, it may be time to review your strategy, and go for 100% focus.

Interesting. WWJD ? In Justin’s lesson on fingerstyle pattern practice, he actually advocates practicing the patterns while holding a conversation, watching TV doing multiple things while repeating the patterns, so they are so ingrained you do them automatically without thinking.

Riding (cycling) a bike listening to music is not lethal as long as you are aware of your surroundings and all the other idiots around you, there are worse things to do. But riding a bike and playing a guitar will definitely lead to an untimely demise.

Oh I would add, when first learning those patterns, focus 100%

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Haha, I hear you loud and clear. Certain family activities / dynamics are well suited to practicing while doing other other stuff, some aren’t.

Because yeah, that looks perfectly safe!

Plus, his playing was sh*t. :crazy_face:

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@TheMadman_tobyjenner :rofl: :rofl: The crazy things you do when you’re young.

That’s ridiculous!
Why on earth was he using a capo? :roll_eyes:


It’s all about vocal range Brian. :upside_down_face:

What a dumba55! No sense of road safety at all, could have easily wobbled at the wrong time with the overtaking or approaching traffic!

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