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