We've all been there; the times when you feel like you're not progressing with your guitar playing and you don't know how to move forwards. Simply finding some space in the day to practice can be a challenge. Don't dismay; it's good to take a look at how you can liven up your habits when it comes to learning.
If you're not enjoying practice time, you're less likely to invest in it. So here's some ideas to get you started on changing things up for the better…
1. Mix it up
For a lot of us, the idea of a practice session filled with scales and sight reading isn't thrilling. So mix things up – start by working on two minutes of scales, chords or theory in between 10-minute bursts of playing what you do like. It’s an easy way to learn the tough stuff while keeping things varied for yourself.
Not sure where to start? Try this 5-step 30-minute daily practice routine (opens in new tab).
2. Visualise scales and chords
Just learned a new chord? Or a scale? Look at your fingers as you play it. It might sound obvious, but visual cues are as important as getting the ‘feel’ down.
Try this: 50 guitar chord shapes you need to know (opens in new tab)
Listen to a song you’re learning and say the chord names as they change in the song or visualise the fretboard and imagine yourself playing the parts.
You’re effectively ‘revising’ the songs so when you’re next on your guitar you won’t have to remind yourself how it goes.
Try this: Unlock hundreds of new chord shapes with this barre chord workout (opens in new tab)
4. Netflix and scales
You can still keep your hands limber by playing scales, exercises and licks on your unplugged electric guitar (opens in new tab) or acoustic guitar while you’re watching your favourite shows. This puts the guitar in your hands on a daily basis to help build strength and dexterity.
Try this: The pentatonic scale made easy with three chord shapes (opens in new tab)
5. Jam along
Shows on TV usually have music, so try playing along and complement the mood. Or use the radio as a kind of lucky dip jamming machine.
Jam along with the minor pentatonic scale starting at the 1st fret. Move up a fret at a time until it starts to sound good (ie, you’ve found the right key).
Try this: Guitar basics: improvising (opens in new tab)
6. Less tone, more play
Don’t lose track of time thinking about how your guitar sounds. It’s all too easy to jam aimlessly while scrolling through the presets on a multi-effects pedal (opens in new tab)!
When you’re experimenting with your sound, try to include new chords and licks so that your gear time isn’t dead practice time.
Try this: Learn 16 of the best guitar chords for clean tones (opens in new tab)
7. Arrange play dates
Practice is easier when you have a companion. Arrange a time to jam with a friend and pick a song or an exercise to work on together. You’re more likely to stick to your appointment and you can take turns accompanying each other as you try out new ideas.
Try this: How to play twin lead guitar solos (opens in new tab)