It’s a given that practice is essential in order to improve our guitar playing and, obviously, better guitar lessons. I have 9 year old students and 68 year old students. Regardless of age, everyone understands the simple formula: practice=improvement.
Quite often, however – and with the best intentions – we still don’t practice! There are many reasons for this and I will address many of them in detail-but not now. Instead I’d like to suggest a practice method I often share with my students.
This “method,” if you will, is to underachieve with a little guitar practice everyday.
Many days we either lack time, energy, motivation, or all of the above to practice the guitar. So often we decide to let it go until the next day when we will have a more ideal opportunity. When it comes to daily practice, basing it on “ideal” opportunities is a mistake! Instead, we need to focus our approach on the belief that any amount of practice is better than none at all.
If you’ve ever had the thought, “I only have a few minutes so I can’t get any practicing done today,” you couldn’t be more wrong! The truth is we can improve our playing in 10 minutes of practice, so long as we know our current musical target. If we know what to work on, much improvement can be had with practice sessions of any length. A good teacher can help formulate our musical targets.
I’m not saying 10 minute practice sessions can or should replace longer ones, only that short sessions can definitely lead to progress with the guitar. It may take longer, but musical progress is more about patience than talent anyway.
An interesting thing about short practice sessions is they tend to naturally lengthen as we improve, which is likely if we are picking the guitar up often. 10 minute sessions become 15 and 20 intended minutes become 30 without any conscious thought. We may be falling far short of our goals, but we are improving just by committing to picking the guitar up for any length of time available.
I think it was Woody Allen who said “80% of life is showing up.” I would put the number closer to 90% for guitar playing. The Woody Allen guitar method. Sounds good to me!
So underachieve a little everyday. We all have huge goals we’d love to reach. Hold on to those goals. We all have MASSIVE potential that remains untapped for any number of reasons. We disappoint ourselves. People disappoint us. The ice caps are melting. An asteroid twice the size of this planet may be on its way as we speak. Meanwhile, continue to underachieve everyday by simply picking up the guitar and playing for as long as you can, for as long as you choose. Especially those stressful busy days that seem to go against our intentions. In this way we reach our goals, sometimes in spite of ourselves.
Just show up.
Photo credit: Luiz Fernando / Sonia Maria / Foter.com / CC BY