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Discover 5 ways to stay motivated when practicing the guitar. Improve your practice routine and improve your guitar playing!

Guitar Player

All teachers have had conversations with students about practise routines and we’ve all dealt with students who are feeling less than motivated to practise. Here are 5 ways to stay motivated when practising.
These tips can be used if you are a teacher with a student feeling the pinch of motivational depression or if you are a student looking to give yourself a boost.

1. Progress Chart

For young students, I find progress charts are a great way to encourage them to stay motivated. Similar to one you might find in a classroom. Set the student goals each lesson such as “Practise this chord charge” or “Memorise this melody”. Compliance with the task will result in a positive mark being added to the chart and if the student does not practise the requested piece, a negative mark. Most younger students will see this as a slight challenge to keep up the good progress.

2. The 10 Minute Mindset

Keep practise routines that are achievable. People live busy lives, especially teenage and adult learners. If you tell a 15 year old, or someone will a full time job and a family, to start on Steve Vai’s famous 10 and 30 hour practise routines you’ll be heading for trouble fast.

I often use an approach I like to call the 10 minute mindset. Work on one thing with no distraction for 10 minutes a day for a whole week. If you commit to that solid 10 minutes a day, by the end of the week you should have made some good progress with the item you’re working on. I like to continue the 10 minute mindset beyond the initial stages. If you can convince someone that they will benefit from 10 minutes a day, they might be playing for 20-30 minutes and beyond. This makes the mindset a success. The student is practising for times exceeding 10 minutes, but in their head they are still thinking small chunks, this makes the idea of practise less daunting and very low impact to their lives.

3. Long Term Goals

Encourage your student to consider the long-term goals of what their playing could help them accomplish. If they have the desire to pursue a career in music, perhaps they would see this as reason to put the time and effort into practise. Tell them to consider what they want out of the guitar in the long run. If they want to play in a band, work as a session musician or maybe even teach themselves, emphasise the importance of practising and keeping their skills at a high level. Working as a musician is an incredibly competitive environment to be in, you have to keep yourself on top of your game every day to ensure you’re seen as the best person for the job.

4. Keep it Visible

This seems to be more of a trend with adult learners, but I have seen this behaviour repeated in younger students too. A lot of adults tend to keep their guitars in less obvious places. One thing I realised, simply by asking a group of people in my early days of teaching, was that there seemed to be a correlation between where someone keeps their guitar and how often they practise.

The reply that always stuck with me was a student who kept his guitar in its case at the back of his cupboard. To practise he had to empty the cupboard, take the case out, set everything up and then put it all back away when he was finished. This was not an incentive to practise each day. Keep your guitars where you can see them, I promise you’ll never want to put it down!

Hearing Progress

The ultimate motivator is hearing that the thing you’ve been working on is taking shape. That chord change from a Dmin13 to an F#maj7 has been causing you a lot of bother lately, but it’s starting to get easier now right? What about that alternate picked guitar part? The 3 notes per string at 140bpm lick… that’s definitely getting faster. When you can hear improvement, it will push you to follow it through and commit to the final goal of mastering the thing you’re working on.

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About the Author

Matthew Rusk is a professional musician and guitar teacher from the UK. He has taught hundreds of students from complete beginners to advanced players. He has been providing guitar lessons locally and online, sharing his practise tips, motivation topics and exercises with students far and wide. He has created an online community of like minded music teacher to motivate and encourage individuals of all ages to start learning musical instruments. You can find out more at mgrmusic.com

Discover how to become a super persistent guitar student and achieve ALL your musical goals!

Never Give Up

Learning to play the guitar is wonderful.

It is an exciting new journey full of adventure when you are just starting out.

Once you have played the guitar for a little while, it can then at times become challenging.

As human beings we thrive upon a new product, a new idea, a new movie… The word ‘new’ has an amazing appeal and we love anything that is NEW!

The problem is, that when we first start learning the guitar, the whole process is new and wonderful but in time new will become old.

Therefore, learning to play the guitar requires dedication and persistence beyond the initial honeymoon period of NEW!

Time and again in my guitar studio in central London I see human behaviour and psychology at work.

Most students behave in the same way… the first 3 months is exciting, then gradually learning becomes more of a chore and less fun.

The truth is, learning to play the guitar does not always need to be 100% fun.

Fun is obviously important, but there is a time for serious study and serious study requires persistence and the ability to at times do things we do not really like.

Of course, overall playing and practicing guitar should be fun, but you also need solid discipline to keep going when things get a little tough!

Let’s say you set out to learn a Metallica guitar solo note-for-note.

The first few months of learning the solo is fun and an overall pleasant experience.

By the fourth month things get pretty difficult.

That is when most people give up.

The secret is then to persist and continue practicing the solo especially the difficult bits until you really master each concept within the solo.

Take for example sweep picking.

You may be terrible at sweep picking right now, but with dedication and practice, you can increase your sweep picking abilities!

Therefore it is essential that you cultivate the habit of continual perseverance and persistence!

When you keep improving a little bit each day, it will all add up to a big change over a period of a year!

The big question is how do you cultivate this wonderful habit?

The key is starting small and build up your ability to persist and practice guitar on a consistent basis.

Perhaps you can only manage 20 minutes of dedicated, persistent practice each and every day.

Start there and then build towards doing 30 minutes, later 45 minutes and eventually 60 minutes per day. (Of course you can do much more than 60 minutes per day, but that is already a fantastic goal!)

If you are faithful in little, you will be faithful in much!

So the secret is to START today with what you can!

Do not try to overdo it…. do what you can manage and then build upon that!

In addition to a set schedule, great guitar education will definitely help you succeed!

During your guitar lessons, you can speak to your guitar instructor and share your frustrations. He or she can then kindly guide you into developing your ability to persist.

In my own guitar studio I always encourage my students and I help them get back on the path to dedicated, serious daily practice wherever possible!

Practice the same thing day in and day out

The most successful guitarists in the world has a set practice regime.

Sure, it will vary a little from time to time, but a set DEDICATED practice routine is what made them into the giants they are today!

I always advise working out left and right hand technique and then moving unto the different parts of music playing.

Always warm up prior to developing your playing and do take frequent breaks.

From time to time, you can also turn up the volume and just jam the guitar.

But if you really want to be a successful player, then you have to cultivate a SET practice regime day in, day out!

It should be a little boring at times… repetitive exercises is the key to great technique.

You should also consider keeping a journal.

You can then jot down your speed, knowledge and most of all you can COMPETE with your journal.

Competing with yourself is a BIG secret.

If you compete aggressively with yourself then you will make MASSIVE progress.

From time to time you will need to adjust your goals and practice material. That is absolutely fine.

Just stick to a set logical methodology of practice.

Try to practice every day (5-6 days a week) and be SUPER consistent!

If you follow the advice in this article, I guarantee that you will get closer to your ultimate guitar dream sooner than later!

I wish you the GREATEST SUCCESS in your guitar journey going foward!

Stay movitated

Learning to play the guitar can seem like a luxury, indeed it is, and like most of life’s luxuries, when life becomes busy they fall by the wayside and can often be forgotten.

During your guitar lessons in London with me, I’ll make sure you learn techniques that help you hone your skills and develop your guitar playing quickly. (My methodologies are truly world-class and I guarantee that you will make rapid progress if you apply yourself and practice wholeheartedly)

I’ll also show you ways which make it easy for you to reach the next stages, it’s my desire to ensure you become the fantastic guitar player you always wanted to be.

Motivation, for any task can wane though, especially if you have a full time job and a family. This is why some guitar lesson students need techniques for staying motivated.

Some guitar players can also hit a stumbling block, just like with any activity or hobby.

You could reach a certain stage and feel like you’ve plateaued, when in reality, just a few thousands of hours more of practice could see you playing like Jimmy Hendrix!

Here are some pertinent tips for staying motivated to ensure you carry on playing the guitar and practicing to become what you wanted to be when you first contacted me: A great guitar player.

See Practice as Me Time

In our busy lives we often forget to stop and smell the roses. Music is incredible for awakening our senses and making us realise the world around us in real time. It’s used to motivate, inspire, relax and rejuvenate, and that’s just by listening to it. Playing music can help you unwind and can release your mind from the troubles of the day. See your practice as an indulgence.

See it as high quality ‘Me Time’!

It’s time for you, no one else.

You deserve that relaxation and you deserve to excel. Make time for you in your busy schedule and enjoy all the mental benefits that playing the guitar will bring!

Set Some Targets

Setting targets can help you carry on when you feel like you’ve reached a plateau.

The key is setting realistic AND ‘faith’ targets.

Have MASSIVE goals and work very hard towards them.

A realistic target could be: “I want to learn all the major, minor, diminished and augmented chords on string group 135 and 246 this year!”.

A faith based target could be: “I want to play semi-quavers at 155 BPM this year!”

The realistic will generally be met, the faith based target will usually be missed, but by having that target in mind you will then achieve that in the next year or years to come!

So DREAM and go big and bold, but also have some realistic goals on your musical plate!

Think Investment not Cost

The world’s most successful individuals achieved success by generally not caring about the price that they need to pay, but rather the return.

Think of your guitar lessons as an investment.

Thinking and comparing price per hour is ridiculous.

The right frame of mind is the following: “Who is going to provide me with the highest quality guitar tuition and where will I get the fastest results!”

Forget about the cost and focus on the RESULT.

Paying for cheap guitar lessons will generally result in a poor guitar education.

Paying quality means (generally) that you will receive quality.

So make sure you get high-quality guitar lessons to give you the best odds of achieving your musical goals!

Your GpracticeProgressScore will increase:

GpracticeProgressScore = ((time spend with instrument * methodology of pratice)+(mindset*qualityofinput))/100

So by having a fantastic teacher you will get there so much quicker and be inspired to practice harder and smarter!

The time you spend with the guitar is up to you!

The methodology will come largely from your teacher/mentor.

Your mindset will come from a variety of sources. (Your teacher and others… try Tony Robbins – highly recommended!)

Quality of input – this is where you get your education. (Directly related to your teacher)

Guitarist practicing the guitar

Most guitarists could be far better off than they are now if they would only follow a proper practice routine!

Your guitar lessons in London don’t end when we finish our one to one session, you’ll be given lots of material to practice at home. (Such as right and left-hand workouts, scales, chords, note reading, sight-reading, guitar-specific techniques, theory and much more…)

The more you practice, the faster you will develop your skills and the quicker you will become the guitar player you want to be.

Here are some tips for practising guitar at home:

Make Time, or Don’t

The biggest obstacle many guitar lesson students face when trying to practice at home is time. Few of us have extra time on our hands and finding an extra hour a day can be difficult. The great thing about learning the guitar is you can pick it up anywhere. You can watch the TV and work

Few of us have extra time on our hands and finding an extra hour a day can be difficult. The great thing about learning the guitar is you can pick it up anywhere. You can watch the TV and work

The great thing about learning the guitar is you can pick it up anywhere. You can watch the TV and work through the Lydian mode or play some sequences while chatting to friends! (Of course serious dedicated alone-practice time is also required, but if you struggle to find time, doing something is better than nothing!)

There are many other ways you can weave practice into your daily life such as:

Perform a guitar solo for a friend

When you have a friend over, why not show him or her what you have achieved in your guitar lessons by playing a solo or song that you have learned.

The time that you spend performing the solo to your friend will be a very valuable feedback time for you to help you improve your guitar playing in your alone-time practice sessions!

It may at times be painful and even humiliating, but it will DEFINITELY help your progress!

Listen to Your Favourite Music

If you like to spend time watching music channels or listening to music, hold your guitar while you’re doing it. See what chords/melodies/patterns you recognise and play along, you will be amazed just how much you can learn when listening to Wes Montgomery and trying to copy some of his lines! (Or Kirk Hammett if you are into metal as an example!)

Of course, if you can carve out an hour or two a day to practice, you’ll advance at a fast pace. Try not to see it as a chore, as it is not. It’s time for you that is much needed.

Finally, get the best education money can buy and do not forget to practice with proper balance, posture and freedom of movement!

Remember that perfect practice along with excellent quality tuition will bring you the results that you are looking for!

If you practice without quality tuition, you may pick up bad habits along the way!

That is exactly why it is absolutely imperative that you select a top-notch guitar instructor who can help you learn properly!

Make sure you practice using proper posture and perhaps look for an Alexander Technique instructor to help you improve your balance, posture and freedom of movement.

I personally recommend Jackie as she is an expert at the art! – you can visit her website here: http://alexandertec.co.uk/

Finally, look after yourself whilst practising and you will be able to enjoy guitar playing for decades to come!

Did you know that you can make tremendous progress in your guitar journey by practicing without a guitar?

All you need is to develop your visualisation by learning how to see the fretboard in your mind’s eye!

You can then practice during your lunch break or when commuting.

Adding extra practice to your schedule will result in a compound effect and in time YOUR guitar playing will become awesome!

Watch this video to find out more about how you can do just that:

VideoWARNING: Never push your right hand technique if your hands ache. Take proper breaks and frequent breaks. Please see advice on the following website: http://rsi.unl.edu/music.html

Why I have set out to write this article:

It is my experience that tons of guitarists have more (speed-related) problems with their right hand than with their left.

One of the reasons for this is the fact that most guitarists tend to look at their left hand and not at their right picking hand.

It is frustrating to see so little attention being paid to good right hand technique.

It is my desire that you will be inspired to take your guitar playing to the next level by pushing your right hand technique to a much more proficiency level.

Step 1 – Learn to hold the plectrum in the most efficient manner

A lot of your (R.H.) problems can be traced back to the manner in which you hold your plectrum.

If you study some of the greatest virtuoso guitarists ever – Shawn Lane, John McLaughlin, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Michael Schenker, Pat Martino, you will notice a few things:

They hold the plectrum in the following manner: (Or something of that effect)

Correct right hand technique

  • Their plectrum have a slight angle to the strings.
  • They play with excellent plectrums that are not flimsy!
  • They have learned to play a flurry of notes in exactly the same manner to how you are reading this sentence.

Basically, they play six notes as if it was one note! (One of the secrets of developing great speed)

Take a look at this wonderful video demonstrating excellent right hand technique ala Pat Martino:

Step 2 – Practice your right hand separate from the left.

It is absolutely vital to practice your right hand separate from you left.

I teach all my students a number of techniques to seriously increase their picking prowess.

I recommend spending at least 15 to 20 minutes a day just on the right-hand if you can. (Yes, you probably can!)

If you hope to become a virtuoso guitarist, you will need to spend at least 45 to 90 minutes just on your right hand – six days a week.

I guarantee you that if you work on your right hand separately, with proper exercises and a journal, you will make mind blowing progress.

The world will be your oyster when it comes to playing with your right hand!

Step 3 – You need to understand the power of compound return – doing a little every day will amount to a lot over the long term!

This is extremely important.

Unfortunately only 0.001% of the world’s population understands this. It is not so much what you do today that matters, but what you do every day over a very long term.

With proper practice on a daily basis you can become an exceptional guitarist even if it’s only for your own pleasure.

To become great -you need to understand the power of compound interest.

  • The first step is to lay foundation.
  • The second step is to lay a strong foundation on the foundation.
  • The third step is to build the skeleton of the building.
  • The fourth step is to finish the building.
  • The first step is to decorate the building.
  • The sixth step to expand the building.

Your guitar playing is that building.

You need great mentorship.

Proper daily practice.

And compound interest (along with success) will be yours!

Step 4 – Log your speed in your own right hand journal. Compete with yourself!

My Journal

Nothing grows quicker then measuring numbers and comparing those numbers with time.

If you write down how fast you can play in a journal on a weekly basis, you will be surprised when you end up in six months.

Journalling your progress is one of the best ways to develop.

I recommend only writing down one or two exercises.

Practising the guitar is already arduous, and the journal should be there to assist you not there to become a pain.

To just jot down a few exercises (e.g. a chromatic scale or a fast lick) and work on a weekly/monthly basis to increase your speed.

Once again I do not want the journal to be a pain, so only write down your speed with a metronome every now and again.

Your private journal should be your friend!

If you follow the advice given here, you will drastically improve your right hand technique!

Step 5 – BELIEVE that you can do it!

All things are possible…

All things are possible to those who believe!

Now, you may not yet believe entirely, but as long as you keep on striving for success you will start believing.

Believe is basically based on hope.

As you keep on hoping, what you hope for will (eventually) become true.

The key is to keep on believing that you can do it!

If you feel you can’t believe – at least hope – it’s basically the same thing.

Whenever you believe, it is for something that does not yet exist.

That is why faith is a force that attracts future goods to you by using the power of belief.

So believe you can do it – hope you can do it and eventually you will be able to do it!

Step 6 – Play faster than you can in short bursts to push yourself further…

Firstly, a word of advice: if your hands feels fatigued – take an immediate break. Step away from guitar playing until you feel better. You do not want to hurt your hands. Also, make sure you are very relaxed when you attempt to do this. You have been warned – it is at your own peril.

I have found that the only way to truly achieve your goals – whether it is for playing the guitar, your career, your finances, your future is to push things further than you currently can for a short period of time.

By pushing along with believing, you will expand your possibilities and reach your goals quicker.

So for practising your speed, I recommend playing a major scale or a minor pentatonic scale and try to play it as fast as possible.

Even play it sloppy.

It doesn’t matter.

It is all about going for the hope of eventually getting it right.

The best video that I can recommend you watch on the subject is the following:

Step 7 – Persistent and you will (eventually) succeed!

Rome was not built in a day.

At least not all of Rome.

The world’s richest investor Warren Buffett started his career by handing out newspapers door-to-door.

He worked tirelessly to achieve his goals.

He did not start at the top, but at humble beginning just handing out his newspapers.

Faithfully!

(According to Wikipedia: At the age of 15, Warren made more than $175 monthly delivering Washington Post newspapers. In high school, he invested in a business owned by his father and bought a 40-acre farm worked by a tenant farmer. He bought the land when he was 14 years old with $1,200 of his savings. By the time he finished college, Buffett had accumulated a princely sum of more than $90,000 in savings measured in 2009 dollars – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett#Early_life)

A couple of decades later he actually bought the Washington Post the very newspaper that he handed out… How is that for being rewarded for faithfulness! (Inc. power of faith and belief)

Your guitar technique will not become amazing in a day either.

It is impossible to develop exceptional technique without putting in exceptional amount.

Just like Buffett did with his business endeavours, so you need to do with your right hand technique.

Start small and build to something big!

Your reward will be directly correlated to the amount of work that you put into your craft.

That is why you need to persist and insist until you exceed.

That is why structured practice alongside quality mentorship is the best way for you to become the best guitarist that you can possibly be. (I DO NOT believe a better way exists – all greats did the same!)

In order for you to develop serious guitar technique, you need to stick to a set practice schedule day in and day out.

If you practice your quality right hand exercises on a daily basis, you will eventually become the guitarist that you have always wanted to become technically. At least you will get a great right hand technique.

I wish you the greatest success with your guitar playing and your right hand technique!

Finally, my own video demonstrating some of my thoughts regarding the right hand:

Man-strugglingYou may have been playing the guitar for a number of years, but you still feel that your progress is too slow, and in fact you feel as if you are not going anywhere.

The good news is that this is quite common and the great news is that there is a solution to your problem.

WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG:

Please do remember that I am generalising this article and that obviously your situation may be different.

But what I have seen from past experience is that most guitar learners who are practising the guitar are not making progress, primarily due to the way they practice the guitar.

You are most probably playing along to your favourite recording, trying to jam guitar riffs and songs.

While these activities in and of themselves is actually beneficial, that cannot be your main method of practising the guitar.

You need to have a structured, methodical approach when practising your guitar.

THE SECRET TO FIXING EVERYTHING:

The first step towards success in your guitar playing is to recognise the fact that you need to have a great guitar instructor or mentor.

You need to find somebody who can help you get past the issues you are facing.

If you are unable to afford the services of a great instructor, then you will need to be that instructor for yourself. It is possible, but it is a lot harder.

Alongside your guitar instructor/mentor, you should fix most of your problems If you are serious about practising correctly and you work assiduously towards your goals.

HOW TO PRACTICE CORRECTLY:

The way to practice correctly is to have a structured approach. You need to do the same thing day in and day out.

There are many different ways of practising, I suggest the following:

Start out by practising your right hand technique.

After that work on your left hand.

After you have done that, you may synchronise both hands.

Now you have covered both hands. You have dealt with the technical side of playing the guitar.

Your next problem is knowledge.

I suggest a clear, step-by-step approach on working to memorise the guitar fretboard.

In this area you can practice arpeggios, scales and modes across the guitar neck anchoring it to the root notes.

I cannot give you specific arpeggio or scale to practice as that will depend on what you know already, or where you are in your guitar journey.

After you have fixed some of your knowledge issues, it is time to work on your improvisation.

Have structured and disciplined exercises to improvise along with.

Practice specific issues around The subject of improvisation. Focus on areas that you struggle with. Focus on fixing problem areas.

When just starting out, you can simply take a minor pentatonic scale and practice in a freestyle by just jamming in and out of the different different box positions.

If you are a more mature guitarist, you will need to work on selecting notes against the harmony in order to produce the most advantageous sound.

If you are a professional guitarist, you can work on something like giant steps throughout all 12 keys. Because of the symmetrical nature of the composition, you will practice all 12 keys a few times through!

The key here is to have a structure and you see the keyword that just keeps coming back – ‘structure’.

If you simply operate out of jamming and playing along with the riffs, don’t expect to develop great guitar playing. At best you will get a so-so level of guitar playing.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT:

Firstly start studying with a guitar mentor that works well with your personality. Don’t just select any guitar mentor – select someone that you can actually get along well with.

If you cannot afford a guitar mentor, you will seriously need to become your own mentor – unfortunately this is very difficult to do. (If you are passionate you will find a way. If you are privileged to live in a beautiful country such as the United Kingdom, there is really no excuse.)

Make sure your guitar mentor understands structure and discipline.

Study on a weekly basis or a daily basis alongside your mentor and practice in a disciplined approach.

If you do this, it will only be a matter of time before you will become the guitarist you have always dreamed of becoming!

» Find out more about the guitar courses that I offer in London for serious guitar students here