Discipline in Practicing

In this article we look at how you can develop good guitar practice habits and we look at the common problems that many people have when learning how to change between chords smoothly. Let’s get started!

There are two main factors when it comes to discipline in practice. They are practicing regularly, and practicing well. Both of these are important points.

Practicing regularly is the most obvious and easy thing to do. Basically, you should play the guitar every day. These don’t need to be mammoth, three hour long sessions, 30 minutes will generally be fine if you are focused during that time. Doing regular, small amounts of practice throughout the week is far better than doing one or two long sessions.

Life gets busy and it can be hard to make the time to practice but to be honest, 30 minutes a day is achievable for most people. There is no set time that is best for practice but many people prefer to do it in the evening simply because they find that playing the guitar is a relaxing way to wind down after a stressful day.

Practicing well is a much harder thing to do and there are many reasons for why this is the case.
Bad practice affects even the most experienced player but it can be overcome with some help. Here are some of the problems that you may have when practicing and some useable solutions:

1) Problem: Getting stuck in a rut. This is a very common problem that affects nearly all guitarists at some point in time. You end up playing the same thing over and over every time you play and you can’t seem to move on to anything new.

Solution: Aspire to play everything perfectly. However, if you are stuck on this one thing and you feel like practice is getting a little stale, you should really move on to something else that inspires you. It is so important to be inspired in your practice and you can always come back to something later when you are in the right mood.

2) Problem: Moving on to new skills too quickly. Also a very common problem, moving on too quickly will ultimately turn you into a “jack of all trades and a master of none”.

Solution: This problem is the opposite of the last problem we looked at. You can now see that there is a balance between too much and not enough emphasis on perfecting a song. You should master each thing before you go on to the next, but if you are finding a particular skill impossible to master and you are dying of boredom trying, maybe that skill is a little out of your reach. In this case, it is best to go back and learn something less difficult.

3) Problem: Becoming narrow minded in relation to the different areas of learning within musicianship. Some people get into the situation where they are practicing only one style and neglecting everything else.

Solution: Try splitting your playing into parts. For example, spend 5 minutes practicing new scales or chords, 10 minutes working on writing new music and maybe 15 minutes learning a new song or part of a song. This way, your practice never gets boring and you can achieve a lot more.

4) Problem: Playing things too fast when learning them. This can cause you to become disillusioned with your playing when you are trying to learn a new song.

Solution: A fairly obvious solution here – Slow down. Try playing a song or new skill at a slow speed before trying it at a fast pace.

Practicing properly and regularly is the best way to become good at anything including playing the guitar. This requires discipline; not only discipline to practice regularly, but also discipline to stay focused and on track when you are practicing. If you stay disciplined with your playing you will develop in to an excellent player.

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  1. Bagoez

    For me, personally, even if I jut pick it up and go tuhgroh a few chords and scales, I feel better, like I’m still committing. It’s not often that I don’t have the time, but on rare occasions, time is limited.

  2. Dan

    Hi to all you practicing guitar. I started my new hobby back in January. I have bought some dvd’s and have progressed thru a lot of chords and progressions. I try to practice every day and I really feel you when you talk about discipline. I think the one thing that I need to start learning is theory. I find it hard to read and follow tabs. I have gotten pretty good with a couple easy songs like Dillon and the Stones easy to learn songs. I am thinking it is time to reach out to others that play guitar and move on to, hopefully, a higher level of learning. Thanks for all your advise. Tim and your site are very helpful. Best,

  3. Donna

    I missed something somewhere. Didn’t find anything in this article about practicing chord transitions which is one of my biggest problems right now. I can’t seem to get past the difficulty I’m having with that. Don’t feel like I can move on or improve until I do.

  4. Ebax

    Your ‘Chordbook’ might cause some new students some problems as they don’t show Fret numbers. A lot of pics have the nut showing but most don’t and not every ‘newbie’ might know about fret markers, which give a ‘clue’ to the fret # (in a lot of the chord shapes they are covered!)!

  5. Wayne

    I enjoy all articles about playing guitar. I have been playing acoustic for about 3 years now and electric for about 6 months, though I did play lead on my acoustic before I got a electric guitar. I play/practice mostly blues and I have several courses and jam tracks to play to so getting bored is never a problem. My best advice is patience and dedication. You could learn a G C D progression and mixed with different strumming patterns, you could simply stay put with that and play hundreds of songs. Or you can keep on learning and learning. That is the goal and challenge I set for my self. But what ever strikes your fancy, it all requires patience and dedication. Good luck to all of you.

  6. ssjye

    Hi, I’m a beginner in Guitar and bass as well. I didn’t have an opportunity to learn guitar when I was young, so now I’m gonna grab the opportunity now! I’m an RnD engineer and I have a Master in Engineering on the way. The time to practice is really tight and limited. Nonetheless, I do practice almost everyday even though the period is short. Thanks for your useful advice, I’m gonna practice everyday and become more focused.

  7. sandy

    I’m 62 yrs. young and am teaching myself to play the guitar; being on a fixed income I can’t afford to pay for lessons, so I’m picking up all I can from teachers like yourself. I thank my Lord that He’s leading me to people like yourself!!!
    I’ve bought a guitar a little over 2 wks. ago and can play 8 chords; I’m so excited, just wish I had found this a lotttttt sooner…….oh well, it is what it is and I’m making the best/most of the time I have left! Thank you for the time and energy invested here. If I come into a fortune I’ll compensate you, but I don’t play the lottery, so I don’t expect that to happen. lol
    Thanks, again
    Your Fan/student

    1. Dan Orr

      Hi Sandy, great to hear you getting into your playing how ever you can. If you haven’t already, grab a copy of our Chordbook. It will give you plenty to work on and give you some ideas for different chord progressions in a variety of genres. Keep strumming!

  8. Epillo

    I thank you big for your dedication. I have learned how to play A,B,C,D,F,G major chords softly.
    I can also play Am, Gm, Cm Bm,Dm, Em,F “m. I need your advise to perfect all these keys so I can flow with any song I listen to.

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