Big Ideas / Brian's Guitar Journal

Another Month of Focused Practice

Well this is the last day of March 2016. Can you believe it? That’s one quarter of 2016 already in the history books. Time is flying by and you know time tends to ALWAYS be flying.

If you are working on long term goals (such as developing advanced guitar techniques) this rapid passing of time can be an unexpected boost. Like all those training montage sequences we see in movies, several months can pass by in what feels like a few days. If you’ve spent that time putting in the dedication, racking up daily completions of a well crafted practice routine, it’s astonishing how much technical skill can be developed in a period of only a few months. Without even trying you will find the rewards of good practice habits freeing up new avenues of expression and a greater feelings of strength, comfort and freedom in your guitar playing.

On the other hand, the exact opposite it also true. Months and even years can go by where you meant to do the work but didn’t. Often we then look back in these cases and think, “If only I’d put in a few minutes each day, I’d be so much farther along by now.” I’ve seen first hand both sides of this issue over the course of my own development as a guitar player and I’m constantly revisiting these experiences as a guitar instructor helping other young guitarists.

The difference between being able to leverage the passing of time to astounding effect, or having time pull the rug out from under us is really just planning. Good planning not only involves making a good plan, but even more importantly good planning relies on developing within your character the ability to stick with the plan. In the case of developing guitar technique this kind of dedication is manifest in the successful completion of a highly specific practice routine every day over a long succession of days.

If you wish you were more organized but just aren’t a very organized person, that’s ok. Most musicians and creative people struggle with organizational discipline. But I beg you to struggle. Don’t give up. Don’t feel that you are subject to whatever you current habits are. Start small and over time you will get better at organization. Believe me I was the worst. It was my desire to get better at music that forced me (in most cases kicking-and-screaming) to as they say “get my shit together”.

Check it out. I’ve posted below a picture of my monthly practice routing for March 2016. It tracks 131 daily technical exercises. That’s 4061 exercises per month! Because this printed worksheet allows me to track everything I can look back as see that I spent a little over 62 hours and I completed over 97% of the technical development work I planned to do this month.

The task now is to look over the notes I’ve made on this paper and revise my routine. Tomorrow morning I’ll start a crisp new worksheet with some 4000+ exercises to be completed in the month of April. I expect the results will be even more satisfying.


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