Productive people often use to do lists. Sometimes using a to-do list is a great way to create a practice schedule. But super-efficient guitar practicers don’t just have to do lists. They have stop doing lists.
Good practicers know that some things eat away practice time, and they avoid them. Here are three things nearly everyone wastes time on.
1. Stop Looking for Pencils, Your Metronome, and Everything Else
Taking notes is important. You can write fingerings and expression markings on your score or you can take some notes in your practice log. That’s why keeping a pencil in your practice area is essential.
Metronomes, pencils, tuners, water, and footstools are all tools of the trade. Keep them in your practice area, and stop wasting practice time looking for them.
2. Stop Playing Through Entire Pieces
Almost every guitar student in the world begins her practice session with this three step process:
- Sit down, get the guitar out
- Put the guitar way, looking for all the needed supplies (see point one)
- Play through an entire piece to “see where it’s at”
The last step is incredibly unfortunate. Partly because the student is probably not warmed up.
The real reason to not play through an entire piece, however, is because you don’t need to. Whether or not you keep a practice log, chances are you probably have a good idea of what sections you really need to practice. A big part of being an efficient practicer is working to improve the weaknesses, not the strengths.
So stop wasting practice time playing through entire pieces and start zeroing in on the real issues.
3. Stop Making Mistakes
Practice is about playing something perfectly as many times as possible. Sometimes that means using certain practice techniques or even just slowing down a bit.
Don’t get caught up in the flow of the piece and keep going. Don’t try to work on multiple issues at once. Just focus on one or two things and do them perfectly as much as possible. It works like this: every time you play something your muscles and mind are building memory. You want to feed that memory the best possible material, which means finding ways to play correct repetitions as much as possible.
Sometimes mistakes do happen, but many times they aren’t mistakes at all: they are poor practice habits. Practice carefully and stop wasting practice time making mistakes.
What are some of the things that eat away at your practice time?