3 Ways To Shorten Your Practice Time

Less Practice and More Play

Last week in the Facebook Group, a member asked how much time per week we all spend getting ready for Sunday and I was surprised by how often 5-10 hours was the answer. Love the commitment but maybe we can find a way to save you some time. Here are 3 ways to maximize your practice time.

1. Listen Before You Play

I’m always really intentional about not picking up my guitar until I’ve listened through a song a number of times. Knowing the song before learning the song is key. If you’ve got the list or even if you know some new songs are coming up, start listening in the car and around the house. That way when it is time to pick up the guitar you’ve got a good idea of where you’re going.

2. Stack Your Parts

My approach to every song is to start at the beginning and build. If there’s an intro riff, I’ll play that over and over until I’ve got it and then hit verse 1. Once I’ve got verse 1 I play the two parts together and make sure the transitions work. After that I move onto the chorus then play all 3. It keeps the earlier parts fresh and continually has me practicing in context.

3. Woodshed The Trouble Spots

It’s great to take the song as a whole but you’ve got to know when to hyper focus on a tough section. If you’re stumbling over a part, don’t rush past it. Stop there and do the work. There’s a reason we have loops in all the lessons.

Conclusion

Confidence is what makes playing enjoyable and confidence comes from knowing your parts inside and out. Getting in an efficient practice routine will help you spend less time practicing and more time playing. If you haven't joined the members only Facebook Group, you're missing out. Join here.

Jason Houtsma serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA, Husband to Alli, Father to Bjorn and Asher, and guitar instructor for WorshipArtistry.com

3 Ways To Shorten Your Practice Time

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Practice tips

Sadly not everyone has Facebook so no tips for me but that's ok I love the website

We would eventually

like to open something up on site but for now Facebook was the easiest and quickest while we work on other big projects.

True

I like your suggestion to listen to the song several times. I tend to build a playlist of our songs on Monday and I listen to them while at the gym or in the truck commuting. That way when I sit down on Wednesday to practice before our Thursday rehearsal I have the songs in my head. Really works!

Extending Your Idea

Truthfully, I am the only electric guitar on my team, so I do play weekly and I do practice on my own about 4-6 hours weekly to try and get my parts down and to make smooth changes between pick ups and pedals. (That doesn't include the hour to prepare playlists and file music so that I can pull it easily the next time.) I already pretty much use the three tips suggested here. My muscle memory is not all that great, so I often need to review the same part several days in a row to get it really fixed in my head. Being a working professional (school teacher), that pretty much sucks up all the real time I have for working with my instrument. I rarely pick up my instrument just for "fun" or to build new skills and techniques or review old ones. All time is spent just getting ready to play on Sunday.

So my question is: Jason, how do you schedule your practice time so that there is time to continue learning and developing new skills and still meet the needs of being "ready" on Sunday? How much time are you able to just play for the sheer enjoyment of playing your instrument? I am seeking some kind of balance where I can feel good about what I do and still enjoy meaningful development as a guitarist. What do you think?

That's a recipe for burnout.

If you are the only guitarist, one thing you might try is practicing one song to really nail it and then simplifying the others with open chords and modified leads to get by. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to fill the space and not be out of key. Then you can still pick up your instrument for fun. It will still give you more familiarity with the instrument which will make you an overall better player.

Wise Advice

Thank you for the suggestion. It makes a lot of sense. I really do appreciate your song breakdowns. They save me so much time trying to figure parts out. I also appreciate the level of musicianship that provides both tablature AND notation. For those of us who read well but don't have great ears, this saves a lot of frustration.