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Are you finding it difficult to consistently practice fingerstyle guitar? Here are some methods that you can use to create a practice routine and be more consistent.

When deciding how you will practice fingerstyle guitar, don't focus on the duration of your practice session.

Instead, by concentrating on the frequency and the effectiveness of your practice routine, you will make steady progress with fingerstyle guitar.

How To Practice Guitar Effectively

Here is how you can make your guitar practice more effective:

  1. Decide when you want to pull out your instrument. 
  2. Decide exactly what you need to practice during your session
  3. Keep note of what you practiced during your session
  4. Take breaks and do something else if your mind wanders

1. Decide When To Practice

If you want to make progress with guitar, do it at the same time every day. Make guitar playing become part of your morning or evening routine. 

I’m not saying, set an alarm at 6.10am every day, pull out your guitar and practice 1 hour before breakfast. Although that technique worked for me in the past when I had a performance coming up.

I’m referring to making it a habit to pull out your guitar at the same moment every time of the day.

Choose a time in the evening when the kids have gone to bed, or in the morning with your coffee. Pull out your instrument and play something, even if it's only a measure of music

Should You Leave Your Guitar Out?

If you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, it's OK to leave your guitar out in the open, but I usually put my guitar in its case to prevent it from accidentally being knocked over.

I’m not much of a proponent of leaving your guitar out in the open just for convenience's sake, in case you have the urge to practice.

I'd much rather you schedule a time to practice and only pull out your instrument at that designated time. 

How Many Days Can I Go Without Practicing Guitar?

Fingerstyle guitar expert Tommy Emmanuel tell us this: If I don't practice for one day, I notice. If I don't practice for two days, my wife notices. And if I don't practice for three days, everyone notices!

If you need to take a week away from guitar playing, you will notice that your playing is more sluggish when you return.

Although we may not be preparing for a performance at Massey Hall like Tommy, it is crucial to avoid extended periods without playing the guitar, especially if you are starting out and want to make progress. 

To combat this, I suggest listening to fingerstyle guitar music as much as possible when away, and use visualization techniques.

After a week off without practicing, when you want to return to playing guitar, you should start with very slow songs and concentrate on finger accuracy. I think you will be surprised at how quickly everything comes back.

2. Decide What To Practice

If you haven't already, choose a song to practice. My choice of what to practice is influenced by the music that I am going to make into a tutorial.

I like to set goals of learning a song by a specific date. This approach provides me with a clear objective and direction regarding what I should focus on during my practice sessions.

When you are deciding what to practice, never spend too much time repeating what you already know and not tackling the parts that need more work.

The effectiveness of your guitar practice depends on three things:

  1. Goal setting. What you hope to accomplish in your practice session?
  2. Deliberate or "deep" practice. Are you creating new neural pathways, or just doing run throughs and repeating mistakes?
  3. Time management: Making sure you allocate enough time to sections of the song or techniques that need more work.

How To Practice a Guitar Song

To learn a long and complex song, divide the song into sections that you are going to tackle individually. Since most songs use the song structure (verse, chorus, bridge, outro) you can use this blueprint to divide your song into playable sections.

This allows you to focus on individual parts of the song and really master them before moving on to the next section.

Once I've divided the song into sections, I like to start practicing the sections at the end of the song first. Therefore I can resist the temptation of simply playing the song from the beginning to the end each time I practice.

You will learn how to divide a song into sections in the online course, Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now!

I want to avoid a situation where the beginning of the song becomes hyper-practiced and the end of the song is under-learned.

What To Do If You Make a Mistake When Practicing A Piece Of Music

If you make a mistake while practicing a guitar song, it's important to not just move on and ignore the mistake. This is because your brain is more likely to remember the mistake than the correct way of playing the song.

In order to avoid making the same mistake twice, you will need to play the section correctly several times in a row before moving on to something else. Figure out what caused the mistake first - improper finger placement, tempo too fast, etc. and then play the passage correctly multiple times.

3. Keep Track Of Your Progress With A Practice Journal

Some people journal their entire days, writing down everything from the clothes they wore to the mud that they scraped off of their shoes.

I haven't done that kind of detailed journaling since I was in eighth grade. However, I jot down my progress with fingerstyle guitar by keeping note of when and what I practiced.

Review your practice journal before each of your practice sessions. The practice journal can make sure you don’t over-practice certain sections.

If you don't feel like filling out a journal on a daily basis, check out this example of a practice log that you only need to fill out once a week.

4. Take Breaks

If my mind wanders after about 15-20 minutes of practicing guitar, I like to take a break. I like to do something that's either not music related, such as doing chores. 

There are days however, when I don't won’t want to practice. Have you heard the suggestion of leaving your instrument out in the corner so that it’s easily accessible for play whenever you want?

I don't think this is a good idea, regardless of how packed or empty your schedule may be.

When I don’t want to play guitar, I like to watch other people play guitar, and this makes me want to do the same thing.

Want a consistent approach to mastering fingerstyle guitar? Explore effective techniques, step-by-step exercises, and expert tips to build proficiency and self-assurance with your fingerstyle guitar skills. All of this and more in Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now!