Whether you are a beginner guitar player or even more advanced, it is very helpful to have a proper practice routine. There are many methods and lessons of practice available, all with their pros and cons. The key is to find a guitar practice routine that suits your playing, and we will help get you moving in the right direction.
The Basics of Guitar Practice Routines
If you play acoustic guitar instead of electric guitar, there will be some minor changes in your approach to practicing. However, many of the standard points hold true for most instruments and genres.
And whether you are a weekend warrior or a daily player, there are a couple of main aspects your practice needs to include.
- You will need to research lessons suited to your level. A teacher would be doing the same, so keep a notepad or document of links and songs and build a lesson plan.
- Make sure to work on old material to cement muscle and mental memory.
- Try new techniques and songs that are challenging.
- Specific goals are helpful; some long-term and some for each practice.
- Focus on music theory as much as possible. It isn’t necessary to know it to play music, but it sure is incredibly helpful. Ask the best guitarists!
- When you find a practice routine that works, take note, and stick to it!
What to practice?
While it all depends on your skill level, there are some things that all guitarists will need to do during practice.
- Intervals, scales, guitar chords, and progressions are essential, but they can be approached in a more unique and fun way.
- All varieties of picking and muting! Challenge yourself beyond your chosen genre.
- Techniques of both the right and left hand require the same attention.
- Pay attention to your playlists and write down any songs or riffs that stand out.
- Play as many of those songs as possible using tabs, chords, sheet music, and even by ear. Turn the song on and find the right notes!
- If you are a songwriter, practice may veer into writing a new tune. That’s fine if so!
How To Practice
The most important part of guitar practice is focusing on your instrument. Turn all outside factors off and take a designated amount of time to play. The only tech or items that you will be using are videos and software specifically for learning the guitar.
If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer available, they have plenty of apps and software to play along with. Drum machines, realistic drummers in DAWs, synths, orchestras, and beatmakers are great accompaniments. In fact, a simple drum app can be an incredible resource for practice time.
Many of the music apps and software have more than just drums for backing tracks; in some cases, it is like playing along with a real band. Metronomes are also important but be sure to take full advantage of all the modern ways to enhance your practice time.
10-Minute Guitar Practice Routine
Warm-Up 2 min
Scales and modes are the best way to get started, but don’t be boring! Look up new and unusual scales. After a run up and down, mix up the order, and then finally add some chromatic movement. Instead of staying in the scale, move in half steps and experiment.
Techniques 3 Min
You want an exercise that stretches and enhances the flexibility of all your fingers. You can play simple tabs to start and then progress into the technique specifically for this practice. And try to incorporate it into the final song or riff.
Chord and Progressions 5 min
If you are playing heavy metal, your attention may be on power chords and sweep picking. If jazz fusion is more your style, your chords will be more complicated. Regardless of genre, find one suitable song and break it down as you play it. Obviously, this short time is not enough to learn it, so you may need to revisit it at your next practice.
30-Minute Guitar Practice Routine
Warm-Up 5 min
The same scale and mode mixture can be played for the first couple of minutes but then move into a song that you are familiar with. The better you are at the song, the more perfect it is. You want a song or riff that really loosens you up and makes you feel confident on the guitar.
Techniques 10 min
We can still work on our scales as we move into techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, and various up and down picking strokes. It’s great practice to riff with these techniques on a specific scale; that way, both hands are developed in this short period.
Chords and Progressions 10 min
Play a couple of new chords from some beginner guitar songs you have found during the week, play them as arpeggios, and look up their different fingerings and inversions up the fretboard. Take a little more time getting to know the chords and progressions of the song you have chosen.
Ear Training 5 min
Take the progression or song you have picked for this time and play along with it! Since you have already been learning the material, the ear training will be a little easier. This is a great hack for those who struggle with playing by ear.
60-Minute Guitar Practice Routine
Warm-Up 5 Min
The same warm-up process applies to longer periods of practice. Play some scales, riffs, or tunes that loosen you up and get you in guitar-playing mode!
Techniques 15 Min
Longer practice times allow us to focus more on strength and dexterity. You will be playing the same techniques, just in longer bursts. This will allow time for breaking down complex movements and perfecting every aspect. As always, review some old material before moving on and try to incorporate any new techniques into the next part.
Chords and Progressions 15 min
The more time we have to play our songs, the more we can break them down into particular parts. Besides breaking down the chords of the song, find the harmony, melody, and even strumming rhythm. Ear training will become a larger part of song study as you put all the pieces together.
The Random Break 10 min
In long practice times, you get tired! And unless you aim to be a master shredding guitarist, you will need a break. This is a good time to search for some random music, scales, songs, genres, or progressions. Perhaps an idea came to you while playing, or maybe some random guitar searches will help light a spark for the next step!
Composing 10 min
Take some of the same elements from this lesson and start writing your own music. Turn on a backing track or drum machine and experiment with all the material you have learned. Being able to take our theory and practice and turn it into a somewhat original song is the ultimate test of progress. Your creativity can be a huge boost in confidence and skill!
The Final Song 5 min
For the last few minutes, play a song that has a good mix of chords and tabs, one you have been working on but haven’t perfected. This is often a song that is obviously not easy and needs work. Jazz standards are often great here, as they have a lot of tough chords and a variety of techniques.
After years of teaching, it seems 45 minutes is just about the sweet spot for most instruments, especially the guitar. If you can’t practice that long, do your best to follow a solid routine and stick to it. Make full lesson plans and adjust what works and what doesn’t. If you stick to regular and structured practice, you will notice an improvement in your guitar playing!