5 Guitar Practice Habits That Improve Your Guitar Playing Skills

By Tom Hess

Simply put, the kind of guitar practice habits you have determine the amount of musical progress you make. Good guitar practice habits fix your problems and help you to become a better guitarist in less time. Poor guitar practice habits cause you to make much slower progress and increase your level of frustration as you practice.

This video demonstrates how to practice guitar effectively:


These guitar practice habits will help you improve your guitar playing fast:


Effective Guitar Practice Habit #1: Paying Attention To The Right Things At The Right Time

The stronger your level of focus is, the more effectively you can practice guitar. Noticing all the right things at the right time is the best way to correct your guitar playing problems and build new skills. In addition, this can be done regardless of your natural talent.

How to focus correctly on solving any guitar playing issue: Don’t merely repeat the same exercises over and over without thinking about what you're doing. A better approach is to focus on the particular notes you have problems playing. This makes it much less difficult to correct problems in your playing because it gives you the ability to spot the specific areas where your playing breaks down.

Play the video to see how paying close attention to the correct part of a phrase makes it less difficult to fix errors in your playing.

Effective Guitar Practice Habit #2: Paying Attention To Detail

Many guitar players practice with a scatter-brained mindset. Some do it because they aren’t sure what they should be practicing. Others think that practicing means repeating the same thing over and over. Not true! Mindless repetition only solidifies poor playing.

Effective guitar practice means:

-Focusing on the correct things, practicing them in the right order and in the right way

-Solidifying perfect technique into your hands. See the video at the top of this page (starting at 0:47) to observe what it means to solidify perfect technique.

-Achieving specific goals during each of your practice sessions.

Question: “Tom Hess, what exactly are you talking about when you say to focus “on the correct things, in the right order and in the right way?”

Answer: The “correct things” are aspects of guitar playing that need to be improved in order to fix your guitar playing issues. For example: learning how to roll your fingers for finger rolling technique; how to correctly use the pick while sweep picking; and minimizing string noise with your picking hand’s thumb. Of course, all these elements do not have to be related to guitar technique. The “right things” could also involve fretboard visualization, aural skills, improvising, or music theory understanding (to name a few).

The “right order” is the priority of these areas of guitar playing that need to be improved. Some aspects of guitar playing must be mastered before focusing on others. To determine the correct priority, you must observe your specific goals as a musician, how much time you have to practice each week, your personality and a variety of other things.

Fact: the order in which you practice and grow your guitar playing skills is of great importance. A lot of guitar players have no clue about the order in which they should improve their skills. This is one reason why a lot of them struggle to become excellent musicians. (Self-taught guitar players in particular).

Practicing the “right way” means carefully listening and observing. You need to understand whether you are practicing correctly or incorrectly. You also need to be able to make any necessary adjustments in order to keep your playing on the right path.

This online guitar practice resource shows how to pay attention to details and quickly improve fretting hand guitar technique.

You will still make mistakes even if you are paying close attention. Paying attention to detail means being more aware of what happens when you make mistakes whenever they occur. This is the same as making steering adjustments as you drive a car in order to keep the car in the middle of your lane. This process helps you stay on track towards achieving your goals.

Effective Guitar Practice Habit #3: Make It Effortless

Truly excellent guitarists make their playing look effortless, because it is... for them! Effective guitar practice is all about training yourself so that playing guitar feels easy. Look for ways to make your guitar playing more simple (without sacrificing phrasing or musical expression).

One way to make your guitar playing more simple is to use the most efficient fingering you can. Don’t take the notes you fret in your fretting hand fingering for granted. Make it as easy as possible. Doing this can be a massive shortcut for mastering whatever it is that you are practicing.

See the video at the top of this page (beginning at 2:21) to observe how a tiny adjustment in fretting hand fingering makes playing guitar a lot simpler.

Effective Guitar Practice Habit #4: Ask Good Questions

Guitarists who ask the right questions make much more progress in less time than anyone else. They know that:

-There is always a reason why they struggle to do something on guitar.

-There is a specific path they have to follow in order to play guitar how they want.

The questions they ask will help them figure out how to solve the main causes of their problems. Their practicing fixes these causes and improves their playing.

The right questions focus your mind on achieving the results you desire. They are specific, motivating and objective. Here are examples of the right questions you should be asking:

“How can I be able to do X with little effort?” (“X" = the skill you want to gain.)

“What do I need to improve in my guitar playing to master X?”

“How can I get the most from my time during guitar practice?”

“How should I practice guitar in order to play consistently and reliably without making errors?”

The greatest guitarists don’t always understand the exact answers to these questions…but they dedicate themselves to finding out. Asking the right questions is the first step towards accomplishing anything you want. You develop the self-efficacy and confidence that helps you attain your goals.

Guitar players who find it difficult to make progress have a mind filled with excuses and negativity. They ask questions and make statements that derail their motivation, such as:

“I’m not a good player!”

“Will I ever get this right?”

“Am I too old to play guitar?”

“What if I just don’t have any natural talent?”

“How do I get more motivation to practice guitar?”

“I can’t practice guitar as much as I want, this is why I can’t become great.”

These questions and beliefs slow down your progress and keep you frustrated.

Effective Guitar Practice Habit #5: Practice With Intent

All of your guitar practice sessions need to lead you in the right direction towards achieving your ultimate goals (one step at a time). This method helps you maintain focus on the big picture while making you a better player faster.

This is how to develop guitar practice that has a strong sense of purpose:

1. Visualize yourself having already achieved your greatest musical goal. Focus on this thought constantly (as you drive your car, while taking a walk, as you exercise, in the shower, etc.).

2. Break down your largest goal into several smaller goals. Every smaller goal should bring you one step closer to the main goal. Divide these goals up so that you complete one every week, month, year, etc. This musician goals completion page helps you to better understand what skills are needed for mastering the guitar.

3. Plan out your guitar practice schedules for many days at a time. This will help you visualize every session as brining you closer to your ultimate musical goals.

How To Develop Effective Guitar Practice Habits Within Yourself:

Take 2-3 weeks to focus on changing one habit at a time. Apply the tips from this page into your playing to refine all areas of your practice. Then begin changing the next habit. Repeat this process many times over the span of a few months and you will see massive positive changes in your playing!

This free online guide to fretting hand technique shows you the right way to practice guitar so you can quickly achieve your goals as a musician.  



Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a successful guitar instructor, professional recording artist and songwriter. He helps guitarists worldwide to become better players with his personalized guitar lessons. Visit his electric guitar lessons website and get free guitar tips, guitar practice help, and additional advice on becoming a better musician.