Become a Better Player Each Time You Practice | Hub Guitar

Become a Better Player Each Time You Practice

What if you knew that every time you picked up the guitar, you would get a little bit better than before?

What if, instead of spinning your wheels and practicing the same things over and over again, you were able to make incremental progress each day?

Accumulated over months or years, that progress can add up to big changes in your playing, eventually leading to greater mastery over the instrument.

But it your improvements really are incremental, how do you even know you’re making improvements at all?

Imagine that you want to lose 50 lbs of weight, so you make some changes to your diet. Each week your new changes allow you to lose 1 oz of body fat. That means it takes 16 weeks, or four months for you to see any difference at all in pounds. At this rate, you might feel you’re never getting there. And body weight fluctuates so often that you might not be able to get an accurate measurement from one week to the next. And that means you have no idea whether you’re making any progress.

Many people learn guitar quickly in the beginning. But after enough time has passed, it starts to feel more like losing 1 oz of fat per week.

The majority of guitar learners are completely disconnected from their learning: they don’t know what areas they’re making progress on, what parts of their practice are helping, what parts are not working.

The Tortoise and the Hare

What is your pace of improvement looking like?

  • A rabbit: Make progress in leaps and bounds, so much so that there is no question in your mind that you are getting better.
  • A tortoise: Make slower improvements, but be sure that each time you practice you are improving in some area.

If possible, it’s always better to be a rabbit, at least for a short time. Maybe you’ve just picked up the guitar and you want to quickly get up to speed. Or maybe you want to spend the summer taking your playing to a new high level and record yourself playing 3 pieces.

But as your playing advances, it’s harder and harder to invest the amount of time to progress at the speed of a rabbit. It may eventually mean an investment of many hours per day. And most people have several things to do in life that are simply a higher priority than learning guitar.

These nuisances come to mind:

  • Taking care of your health
  • Earning a living
  • Preparing to earn a living in school
  • Caring for family

For these reasons, it is more practical for most people to try to come up with a plan to make steady, reliable, measurable progress.

If you can evaluate yourself thoroughly in all areas, set priorities, and willfully and deliberately improve yourself one tiny increments at a time, you are sure to move slowly but surely towards mastery.

How to Become the Tortoise

Although it’s great to spend some time as a rabbit, eventually you’ll probably need to be more of a tortoise, at least for awhile.

Although a rabbit can always solve problems with more practice time, a tortoise doesn’t have luxurious amounts of time to spend making improvements.

It becomes necessary to:

  • Focus your efforts on areas most needing improvement
  • Create milestones to move towards
  • Keep your practice organized with a long list of things you’d eventually like to build on
  • And, most of all: make one tangible improvement every single time you pick up the guitar.

Coda

In short, the strategy of the hare is excellent when available, but the rest of the time, plot your path using the slow and steady method of the turtle.

Get comfortable with the “long haul”, and chart your progress across months and years, not days and weeks.

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