Last Updated on February 15, 2023 by Ben
How To Structure The best Guitar Practice
Routine On Your Own To Meet Your Goals Sooner
Dear fellow guitarist,
In this post, you’ll discover:
- How to structure a guitar practice that you can stick to.
- How to know what to practice technically.
- The method for avoiding endless repetitions and narrowing them down to achieve a specific target.
- How to create a practice regimen regardless of the music style you’re aiming for
- How to replace a big chunk of your noodling time in practicing with intent
- How to improve the quality of your guitar practice routine
Before I show you how to independently set up a guitar practice routine to meet your goals and boost your results, let me share something most guitarists overlook.
The best guitar practice routine is
The execution of a predetermined amount of repetitions day by day to achieve a specific goal.
Building a good guitar practice routine starts with planning to play a specific exercise tied to a specific goal.
Specificity is key.
Doing so will help you to productively
Exploit the limited time you got
Guitar playing consists of broad areas like Improvisation, self-expression, or techniques, And narrower elements like a scale position, changing between two chords, a lick, a challenging riff, etc.
Guitar-playing elements are the small building blocks that build your complete guitar-playing “wall.”
The broad areas are built from many compounded, smaller musical elements.
From now on, we’ll refer to the broad areas of guitar playing as “end-goals” And to the smaller ones (the elements) as “sub-goals.”
By the end of this post, you’ll be able to categorize and decide which musical element goes in which guitar-playing area and if it fits into your guitar practice routine.
Moreover, you’ll also be able to organize and improve your goal-setting mechanism, calculate the amount of time needed for each practice to get good control over a musical element and know how long it will take you to achieve it.
The areas I suggest are not obsolete nor complete, but they can give you an excellent direction for a better division of the total time you spend with your guitar.
As mentioned, guitar playing contains many areas and elements, so we can’t claim that we’re constantly practicing, right?
Can you say that figuring out a chord shape or a certain scale pattern is considered a guitar practice routine?
No, that’s not it…
The division of what’s considered to be a practice routine and what’s not can be done according to these next categories:
The five categories of guitar playing
The “figuring-out” category:
Whether you’re an advanced player, an intermediate, or a beginner, we all need lots of “figuring out time” to understand how to perform something.
A few examples of guitar-playing elements included in this category are:
Figuring out new chord shapes, scales, solos or strumming patterns, transcriptions, reading and writing music notation or guitar tabs, understanding and implementing music theory, basically any new thing we learn.
Trying to figure out how something looks or works on the fretboard requires time, but it doesn’t mean you practice.
So, the “figuring-out category” is not purely a guitar practice routine.
2. The creativity category:
Here, I include everything that makes us grow and create as individual artists who, in the future, will have “something to say,” something to give others with our playing.
This category not only includes spiritual things such as meditations, affirmations, or creative imagination,
but it also includes physical things like writing music compositions, original licks, riffs, or solos and searching for our unique style and tone.
Let’s not forget things like listening to music (which you can also find in the “fun category”) because obviously, when we listen, our creativity develops.
Our brain maps the things we like or relates to emotionally (and the ones we don’t), and as a result, our style develops.
This is called influence and inspiration, which will contribute greatly to our creativity.
“The creativity category” is not a guitar practice routine either, even though you can create meditation or improvisation exercises, for instance,
and set them in the “practice routine category.”
By the way, I strongly suggest you set time apart for music listening. Not in the form of the music playing in the background but in the form of sitting down and selectively listening.
3. The fun category:
Isn’t it what guitar playing is all about???
When you pick up the guitar, not thinking about what you’re going to play, no specific goal in your mind, when you play for friends, family or just want to strum a few chords, when you want to amuse yourself, without thinking of laborious practicing, theory or scales, and your mind is free of thoughts whatsoever WHEN YOU JUST PLAY!!!
You’re in the fun category.
Without this category, what’s the point of playing the guitar anyway?
Needless to say, the fun category is not a guitar practice routine…
Hold on. We’re getting there…
The personal development category:
If you aspire to become a pro, most of the time, It is not enough to develop just the musical elements of guitar playing.
Not all of us need to spend the same time building a better version of ourselves.
This category will ask you to invest time in a more confident you, a more disciplined you, and maybe improve your self-esteem.
In this category, you set goals and go after them. You learn how to manage your time more efficiently. You prepare yourself to receive success. You give time for thoughts about your playing style, your character, and the image you want to irradiate on stage.
Of course, this will vary from person to person. Not everyone needs to work on the same personal characteristics but remember that you will need to set time for some elements within this category.
5. The practice routine category:
Finally, after this introduction, you hopefully understand the difference between the things that require time but aren’t considered practice routines and that, by now, you can determine which elements go in which category.
This valuable information is not always taught when you start playing guitar. As a result, many guitarists jump from one issue to the other, lose focus, and waste a lot of time without making substantial progress or achievements.
The practice category and especially the daily practice routine are the main objectives of this post, so now I want to delve deeper and show you one way to look at it:
The practice routine category is the category that focuses on “chewing” (by repetitions), many musical elements that construct all four categories above to form a more”complete” musician.
Like anything we learn, practice and repetitions take time and a lot of it, especially if you don’t have a good system to manage your practice routine.
Any musical element needs some practice, although not all have to be practiced daily.
So, the question is: “what do I need to cover in my daily practice routine?”
Before I answer that, I want you to briefly read the next questions I’ve been getting from students along the way.
Then I want you to check if you relate to one or more of them, and finally, I’m going to show you a method for efficiently structuring your guitar practice routine so you can start making better progress, no matter what level of playing you’re at.
(It’s a free unique lesson on this page that only requires you to open your mind to a new approach).
Questions I get from students about Guitar practice routine:
- What’s a guitar practice routine?
- What’s the best way to practice guitar?
- For how long should I practice each day?
- What to practice on guitar?
- How many repetitions should I make in my guitar practice routine?
These are all good questions; however, any way you look at it, the answer to all of them depends mostly on two things.
Your goal (the thing you want to achieve by practicing), and your willpower (how bad you want it and how much practice time you’re willing to put into achieving your goal).
First, let’s start with your goal.
Olympic athletes spend hours and days practicing to get an Olympic medal; the martial artists will master one system of movements after the other to get a black belt, and what about you? What is your Olympic medal?
The above are examples of big goals constructed of many sub-goals needed to be achieved and with harmony between all elements and aspects of being an Olympic athlete or a martial artist.
As guitar players and musicians, we are not different.
Here are a few examples of sub-goals you might have and the end goal you might wish for.
Of course, you can set anything you want as a sub or end goal, but just for now, while you’re reading this, check them out to understand my point.
End goal: to play a certain song from start to end with no mistakes.
Sub-goals: to connect two chords fluently, then four chords fluently, then half a song, and at the end, to play the entire song without even one mistake.
End goal: To have the ability to play one of your guitar hero’s fast guitar solos.
(Assuming you gave enough time for learning the solo (“The figure-out category”, remember?).
Sub goals: Play solo with a metronome from start to end at 60 bpm (slowly), then at 80 bpm, then 100 bpm, and finally play it at the right speed.
End goal: to improvise blues guitar solos easily.
Sub-goals: To master one position of the pentatonic scale, then two positions, and so on, until you master the pentatonic scale up the neck and can express yourself fluidly.
I’m not saying any of the above examples is right or wrong, good or bad, or that there’s only one correct way to achieve them. It is up to you and the best of your understanding to decide what and how to achieve your guitar-playing goals.
I’ve heard guys who can play magnificent blues solos in only one position…
Again, I’m just trying to convey a point of view.
So, to sum up, the goal-setting part and to start taking the first step towards structuring a better guitar practice routine for yourself, you can take a piece of paper or a notebook, and you can start by writing one end-goal and all of the sub-goals you think you should acquire to achieve this end-goal.
I personally like printable planners and trackers. That’s why I’ve designed “The 30 days End goal – Sub goal Planner For Guitar Players”. It helps to set end goals and break them down into organized “bite-size” sub-goals, prioritizing them by importance (I usually start from the hardest one, as Brian Tracy suggests in his book “Eat the Frog”).
Then I put it somewhere I can see it often, like on my music stand. Most importantly, I love it because I can keep track of my progress in the tracking section of the printable, thus having the goal organized, executed, and tracked until I achieve it.
Here’s a sample:
If you are one of us that like things more organized, get the helpful goal-sub-goal printable. I’ll put the links at the end of this post.
Here’s how you place your goals in your guitar practice routine
And not just that… I want to show you a simple method for calculating the time required to achieve a goal or a sub-goal.
This will solve some of the biggest problems connected to your guitar practice routine. (Usually, the lack of time…especially when you’re counting backward)…
Moreover, it will allow you to evaluate the amount of time needed to achieve your goal and choose if you are willing to invest it to achieve this goal.
We all know that the best way to learn or gain a skill, any skill, is by repetition.
The question is how many repetitions we should make to achieve good control over something.
I’d say 1000 repetitions for the more challenging sub-goals.
Before you raise your eyebrow, I’m letting you know that 1000 repetitions are an agreement I’ve made with myself to master challenges. Not everyone is going to need this many.
Some of us pick up things easily; for some, it takes a little longer. Some are “geniuses,” and some are not (even though, at any level, everyone has his/her challenges). Some have a better focus ability than others.
But as a good starting point, for an average person (like me), it takes about 1000 repetitions before getting good control over a musical challenge.
Pay attention that I’ve said “good control.” That’s different than mastery.
How do I know that?
I’ve checked and tried it on myself and 37 students of mine.
When you listen to grand masters, you know they took it over 1000 repetitions.
Another thing, 1000 repetitions on different occasions or parts of a day might create a strong emotional experience.
Research has shown that strong emotional experiences contribute to longer memory retention.
That’s what we’re after!
If you think you can do it with less, great! But wouldn’t it be interesting to know what 1000 repetitions on one exercise feels like? What will this do to your playing?
So, here’s what I suggest.
This test will also show you how to calculate a practice time, as I promised at the beginning of this post.
We’re going to do that in the form of a questionnaire. You can use the next list, but you can also find these guidelines in the “1000 repetitions guitar practice routine planner & tracker” listed below. (It’s much more convenient).
Here’s a sample (it also comes with the tracker)
- Choose anything you want to gain good control over. It can be a connection of two chords, a lick, a scale pattern, etc.
- Measure with your smartphone’s timer how long it takes to complete one repetition.
- Multiply the seconds or minutes by 1000 (because you’re going to perform 1000 repetitions).
- Divide the result by 60 to get the total amount of minutes or hours it would take.
- How long will it take to complete 1000 repetitions? One hour? 5 hours, more? Less?
You need to write it down on paper or the “1000 repetitions guitar practice routine planner & tracker” printable at the end of this post.
You can look at it like this:
One repetition’s duration X 1000 = the total time it will take to achieve good control over something.
- Stop for a minute and Make a decision. Are you willing to put in the time required for 1000 repetitions? (It is okay if you choose not to, that’s a good indicator of if something is important enough for you or not).
If you decide to go for it and test the process, divide the outcome by five (it will give you the daily amount of repetitions you need to put in your daily guitar practice routine for the next five days. If the result is higher than 10 hours, consider spreading it on two or three weeks forward as part of your daily guitar practice routine.
It doesn’t matter if you practice it for half an hour a day or one hour day in and day out.
- Keep track of the number of repetitions; count them because it’s essential to know when you hit the 1000 times. (Again, use a pen and paper or the “1000 repetitions guitar practice routine planner & tracker” printable).
Here’s a great tip, take a deep breath between each repetition. It will focus your mind and will give your muscles more endurance.
8. Write down your conclusions.
Were you consistent? Do you feel you’ve gained good control over your goal or sub-goal?
Do you better understand what to practice and how to set it in your daily guitar routine?
You can do the same process for anything you want to gain control over.
I use this method when I learn a new language, for example.
With this method, it’s fairly easy to decide what you should practice, for how long, and if it’s worth it.
Needless to say, this method will directly impact your guitar practice schedule since now you can evaluate the duration of each practice.
There you go. Now we have a framework for building our daily practice routine.
Here’s a sample of the tracker:
Sometimes we might want to include multiple subjects in one practice. Therefore, we can divide the practice time according to the number of repetitions for each subject.
(Obviously, what’s more important to you will get a higher number of repetitions.)
Here’s an example, let’s say we’ve set 1 hour of practice time daily for the next five days, and we need to include chords, speed, and scales exercises.
In this case, we’ll set how many repetitions each one of the subjects will get during this hour.
If each is set to 200 reps a day and takes 20 minutes to complete, we’ll gain good control over all three subjects after five days.
This 1000 reps method mostly gives us an organized framework in which we measure our practice time by repetitions. Of course, eventually, everything’s measured by time, but when we track our reps, we can see much clearer where we’re heading rather than just noodling on our guitar. (Although noodling on the guitar has its benefits).
With this method, we can get more things done in one hour.
We’ll feel like our progress becomes more tangible because we can keep track of it.
In addition, our guitar practice routine’s focus will improve.
Guitar practice routine sum up,
Believe it or not, some people practice with no specific goal in mind.
I don’t know why.
One thing is for sure. We can achieve our goals much sooner if we work with a fixed system like the one I’ve presented in this post.
The outcome is predictable when you have a goal-setting method and the ability to calculate when you’ll achieve them.
Also, remember that all categories presented in this post eventually mix to create a unique guitar player.
If you have any questions whatsoever, you can write them in the comments below,
Thanks for reading this.
You can get the “30 days End goal – Sub goal Planner for Guitar Players” for only
$1.25 $0.75 here:
And “The 1000 Repetition Guitar Practice Routine Planner & Tracker” (Two pages ) for only
$1.75 $1.25 here:
Or both of them for only $3.00 $1.75 here:
If you’re unhappy with the printables for any reason whatsoever, just send me an e-mail, and you’ll get a full refund, no questions asked, and you’ll get to keep them anyway.
My E-mail for answering your questions or for refunds is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further development: how to master the guitar