Are you picking up your guitar for the first time, or have you been playing for a while but feel like you're not getting where you want to be? Practicing guitar is an essential part of learning to play and for beginner guitarists, knowing how and what to practice will help you reach your goals much faster than simply playing every day.
However, the thought of creating a practice routine probably seems daunting. But don't worry - with a little planning, you can come up with a practice schedule that works for you.
In this post, we'll show you how to create a basic guitar practice routine that will help you improve your skills rapidly. Keep reading to learn more!
Daily Practice Schedule for Beginners
The best guitar-playing routines are those that you can stick with over the long term. That's why it's important to make sure your daily practicing schedule is realistic and sustainable. You'll need to consider several things before finalizing your daily practicing goals, including how much time you have available and your current skill level.
The first thing to ask yourself is how long you can devote to practicing each day? Many beginner guitar players assume they should be spending a great deal of time practicing every single day, but this isn't the case at all! There's a lot involved with learning to play the guitar, including technique work, learning new songs and chords, and memorizing musical patterns. And it can take quite a while before you get to the point where you can play with any sort of fluency or skill.
As such, committing to over two hours of daily practice is too extreme for most beginner guitar players. If you're very motivated and dedicated, though, you might be able to spread out your daily practice over three or more hours, but don't worry about this unless and until you get to the advanced beginner level.
If you're like most beginner guitar players, two hours per day is a good number to shoot for when setting up your practice routine. And it's probably best if you break your two-hour practice sessions into several shorter chunks. That way, you can take regular breaks, and your hands won't get too sore.
Beginners should follow a basic practice schedule, including technical and recreational aspects. This means practicing your guitar technique as well as playing songs you enjoy! Here's a breakdown of the steps to take:
1. Set Realistic Goals for Your Practice Sessions
Before you start playing, it's helpful to set goals for your practice sessions. For example, instead of practicing scales casually while watching TV, set aside a specific time for practicing scales or modes. This way, you make sure that every practice session counts.
2. Warm-up Your Hands and Fingers
Starting with an exercise that challenges your dexterity will only make you more frustrated! Before you dive into playing technical exercises or learning new songs, make sure your hands are warmed up. You can do this by playing simple chords and scales for five to 10 minutes.
3. Learn New Songs and Techniques
Pick one song you've wanted to learn and add it to your practice schedule. Then, work on learning either a new guitar technique or riff that will improve your overall skill set. Once you master the song and the new technique, add another one!
4. Practice Your Guitar Technique
Now that you've learned some new songs and techniques, take a look at your basic guitar technique and determine what you need to improve. The next time you practice, work on these specific areas.
5. Memorize a Song
Once again, start by choosing one of the songs you've already learned. Then, start memorizing it. Break the song up into sections and play each section slowly until you're sure that it's correct!
6. Practice Your Strumming or Picking Patterns
Take a look at the songs you've been practicing and isolate the strumming or picking patterns. Now, practice these patterns over and over again until they become second nature to you! This is an extremely important step. If you don't do this, you'll never be able to improvise or create new music on the spot!
7. Learn to Use Guitar Practice Tempo
Practice tempo is simply the speed you use to play musical elements, such as notes and chords. Learning how to use guitar practice tempo can help you stay focused on improving your technique. For example, if you're focusing on how to sweep pick, practice sweeping at a metronome-preset speed, gradually increasing the tempo over time.
8. Apply Guitar Practice Tempo to Your Songs
Now that you know how to use a practice tempo, effectively apply this to songs you're learning. You can use a metronome or drum machine to practice your riffs and solos at the correct speed. Pro tip: Practicing in different keys is also a great way to memorize songs faster.
9. Incorporate Rhythm Exercises into Your Practice Routine
Rhythm exercises are another important part of your practice routine. Working on rhythm exercises will help you develop muscle memory, which is essential for playing guitar with consistency and accuracy. Here are some examples of common rhythm exercises:
- Economy picking
- Hybrid picking (alternating between pick and fingers)
- Sweep picking
- String skipping
- Arpeggio exercises
- Alternative picking (down, up, down, up)
10. Add Guitar Practice Licks to Your Routine
As well as rhythm exercises, adding guitar practice licks is another way to improve your technical skills. Learning guitar licks - short musical phrases that can be applied elsewhere in your playing - is a fast way to improve your improvisation and soloing ability.
11. Play Songs You Enjoy
If you're not having fun with the songs you play, it'll be difficult to stick with practicing. When creating your practice routine, make sure to include songs that you enjoy playing.
12. Take a Short Break
After hours of playing the guitar, your hands will probably start to ache, and you'll be ready for a break! Make sure to stretch out your fingers, wrists, and forearms for a few minutes every hour. Playing guitar can be very fatiguing for beginners, so make sure you give yourself some time to relax and recharge.
13. Make Your Practice Session Fun!
The most important thing to remember is that your practice session should be fun and engaging! If you're not having fun, you won't be motivated to continue practicing. Make sure that every minute of your practice session counts. This way, you'll get the most out of your practice session.
14. Practice Your Guitar Everyday
Set a goal to practice your guitar every day for at least half an hour. This will help you develop flexibility and dexterity in your fingers, as well as increase finger strength and stamina. You will also see a massive improvement in a short period of time! Just like any other instrument, you'll get out of it what you put into it!
Creating Practice Routines for Beginners
These are the basic elements of your guitar practice routine, but it's also important to note that your practice plan should include both long-term and short-term goals. For example, maybe you want to learn three new songs in 2 months so you can perform them with your band or at a party. Or, perhaps you want to learn two new chords per week so you can play duets with your friends!
A basic guitar practice routine might look like this:
- Practice each of these elements for 10-20 minutes each.
- Picking exercises
- Rhythm Exercises
- Scales and Modes
- Songs you want to learn or improve upon (these can be songs you've already learned)
- Licks and improvisational ideas
- Include variations of your practice routine (i.e., play 'Random' notes or chords, try different strumming patterns, etc.) to keep each session fresh and challenging.
- Add additional time for each element if you're making progress quickly with it.
- If you're struggling with an element, consider taking a step back and focusing on it less frequently. For example, if scales are difficult for you, simply work on them for 5 minutes each week instead of 15 or 20 minutes.
Daily Practice Breakdown
With just two hours to commit to practicing every day, where should you be spending that time? Beginners should focus their attention on different aspects of guitar playing than more advanced players do. Here's an example daily breakdown to get you started:
- 15-20 minutes of basic guitar technique practice. Spend this time practicing your scales, doing finger warm-ups, and working on any technical weaknesses or problem areas in your playing.
- 30 minutes of new material study. This is also known as "learning songs." Make sure to focus on the material you enjoy and continue practicing every day. Spend this time practicing songs that you're working on, then move on to learning new songs.
- 30 minutes of ear training or music theory work. This is perhaps the most often overlooked aspect of practicing guitar for beginners, but it's crucial nonetheless. Just like any other skill, your ability to hear and identify various guitar chords and notes will only improve with practice. Set aside time each day to listen carefully to chord progressions or songs, trying to guess what key they're in or which chords are being played. This is important for developing your musical ear and understanding the theory behind music.
- 10 minutes of visualization practice. If you aren't already familiar with this type of practice, visualization can be an extremely powerful tool for memorizing songs and other material.
- Finally, don't forget about taking care of your hands! Spend 5-10 minutes at the end of your practice routine, massaging them and doing some light stretching.
What to Avoid During Your Guitar Practice Routine
To ensure that your guitar practicing goes as smoothly as possible, avoid doing the following:
Stay in one position too long - It's fine to spend some time simply working on your finger strength, but don't get too comfortable in one position.
Playing too fast or slow - Finding the "right" speed at which to play is a skill that comes with practice - don't try to rush it! Stay between 50-80 bpm (beats per minute) if you are just starting. This will give you enough time to play through each note clearly and accurately.
Strumming incorrectly - If you are new to strumming, make sure to keep each strum pattern even. Fortunately, most songs follow a simple 4/4 time signature with an easy 1-2-3-p-1 strum pattern, making it fairly easy to get started on the right foot.
Overdoing it - Your fingers can hurt, and your brain can get tired. Remember to take a break when you need one, and don't push yourself too far.
Practicing too many elements at once - If you are new to learning songs, it is very tempting to play the song from start to finish during your practice session. This can be overwhelming for beginners. It's much more effective to break down a song into individual sections and focus on one section per practice session until it feels comfortable and secure. Then, move on to the next section.
Attempts at playing too much in one session will likely result in sloppy, inaccurate play that sounds unprofessional and is not fun for anyone involved.
There are countless different ways you can divide up your daily practice routine. This is a great basic breakdown to use as a template to get started. Keep in mind that it's likely to be difficult at first to find the motivation and discipline to stick with something every day. If you miss a day or two or even a week here and there, that's perfectly fine! The important thing is to get back into the habit as soon as you can. Once your practice sessions become part of your daily routine, they will feel much more natural and relaxed.
It is important to remember that guitar practice is supposed to be enjoyable. If you don't enjoy your time at the guitar, it's probably time for a change! Do what feels comfortable and right for you.
Ready to start your music journey?
If you've been wondering how to get started learning the guitar, or any other musical instrument for that matter, it can be a big challenge. Luckily there are tons of great options available today to help make things easier and more fun for musicians at every level of experience!
Whether you're just starting out as a beginner with no idea where to begin, or maybe you've been playing for a while but are looking to finally master that one last technique that's been eluding you, the perfect guitar learning resource is waiting for you somewhere!
Guitars USA Music Store offers affordable and high-quality beginner guitar lessons for every level of player, plus an insanely awesome selection of electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass guitars, and amps to suit any sound!
Our teachers are dedicated to teaching the ins and outs of the guitar so our students can be well on their way to making music with their instruments. We're located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Call us at (336) 306-9500 with any questions you might have.
Guitars USA is here to help you learn more about your instrument and make the whole process fun, easy, and super affordable!