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Set Yourself Up for Successful Guitar Practice

By Charlotte Adams February 04, 2024 Lifestyle

Whether you’ve just started playing guitar or you’ve been at it for years, you probably want to get the most out of each practice session. The power of preparation can’t be overestimated! Start setting the stage for success by creating a physical space that supports your commitment.

Your Physical Space

The great thing about the guitar is that you can take it with you wherever you go. All you need is a place to sit comfortably while holding your guitar correctly. But this advantage can become a liability if it enables you to avoid creating the optimal space for daily practice. A little time and planning can go a long way toward crafting an environment that enables satisfying and successful learning and playing.

You don’t need much room for your practice, but you do need a designated area where you feel comfortable. Your space should be private, so you’ll be able to concentrate without any concern for how you might sound to someone else. Practice is a whole different thing than performing. You need to feel free to repeat passages ad nauseum and make mistakes boldly!

If you share a living space with someone else, you may need to collaborate on ways to keep your sounds to yourself. If you’re playing a classical guitar (nylon string), you’ll probably do fine by being in a separate room with the door closed. But you’ll need an extra layer of sound protection if you’re playing a larger guitar with steel strings, or if you play an electric guitar through an amplifier.

If your housemate is amenable to listening to music, books, or podcasts through headphones when they’re home during your practice time, your problems are solved! But that’s not always necessary if you typically play using amplification because you can use your own headphones! I use the Fender Mustang headphone amp and find it really satisfying for most sessions. When I want to sing or play backing tracks through my amplifier, though, I still appreciate my husband using his headphones.

Furnishings

Furnish your space with an armless chair or stool that enables you to hold the guitar correctly and without tension. I use an armless office chair, which I can set at a height that allows me to have my feet flat on the floor and enables me to swivel between metronome, music stand, recording devices, and, in my case, students.

Because your posture is important when playing guitar, you’ll need a music stand and footstool. It’s also helpful to have a small table next to your chair for all of your accessories.

Increase your desire to practice and enhance your overall experience by making your practice space pleasant. Furnish it with fresh flowers or plants, pleasing or inspiring artwork, and aromas that contribute to calmness, energy, and focus.

Equipment and Accessories

You’ll want to be able to easily reach a capo, a metronome, picks, extra strings, instructional books, paper, pencil, your guitar journal, and the recording device of your choice. You’ll also need a device to use for listening to or watching audio files or videos of the songs you’re working on. If you use your phone to access a metronome app or watch YouTube videos, avoid getting distracted by texts or emails. Make a commitment to stay focused during your precious practice time!

Your Mental Space

Once you’ve shut out the physical world, you’ll still need to corral your thoughts. Make a point of clearing your mind when you enter the practice room and perform a repeat clearing after any mentally intense periods. Pause, shake out your hands, take a deep breath, and release all thoughts. Sit in this empty state for as little as 10 seconds or up to five minutes. When you start again you may be surprised by how relaxed and productive you are!

Your Emotional State

Creating an optimal emotional state for practice can be tricky. Who knows what emotions you’ll experience on any given day? Fortunately, you don’t need to anticipate or control your emotions, because as you engage with your guitar, they will almost certainly shift.

Keeping this in mind can help you avoid the trap of avoiding your guitar until you feel like practicing. Truthfully, the best time to practice your guitar is often when you feel like it the least. After a few times of stepping into practice when your heart’s not in it, you’ll probably begin to look forward to practice as a way to balance or soothe a challenging or unpleasant emotional state.

Further read, CAN THERE EVER BE ENOUGH TIME FOR WHAT YOU WANT?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What furnishings or accessories do you find inspiring in your practice area? Can you be sufficiently assertive in claiming privacy in your guitar time? What songs tend to shift your mood the most?

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Erin D

How do you get over the fear of tuning the guitar????!!! I get sooo frustrated just trying to tune it.

Charlotte Adams

I have an article on my site titled “become old-fashioned” that will help you with tuning. You can look in “articles” in the top menu if you want to find it.
As I’m sure you know, the more stressed you get about hearing correctly and turning those tuning knobs the right direction and amount, the harder it gets. Take a few deep breaths before you begin and be prepared to give it as much time as it takes. You’re learning!
Just remember that you won’t break your guitar if you get it wrong. It’s possible to get the tuning so far off that you can’t get it right by yourself, but you can always find someone to help you out of the hole. (Me, for instance!😊 ) Try to surrender to the process and know that it’s only time—and every time you do it, it will get easier. An electronic tuner can help, but it can also lead you astray, as I point out in the article. A combination of the two methods (ear and tuner) is usually best.
Hang in there—you’ll get it!

BadNana

Have you tried to use an automatic tuner. The are only about $10. It clips onto the guitar and it will help you tune the instrument

Maria

Fortunately I live by myself but then, should I worry about my neighbors in this apartment building? Even though, they don’t worry about me…I am a complete beginner with guitar so it will only be chords for now but I can practice during the day when everyone goes to work and school. I just have to take that step. Thank you for your encouragement

Charlotte Adams

Maria, I wouldn’t worry about people in the building. I seriously doubt they will hear you and if they do, it will be muffled. You have the right attitude—just take that step and enjoy the process. I’m always happy to encourage and support you, so feel free to reach out any time!

The Author

Charlotte Adams is a lifelong guitarist, guitar instructor, and music educator who has taught thousands of guitar students in private lessons, classes, and workshops. She is the author of a line of instructional books for beginning through advanced students and offers ongoing guidance and support through one-on-one virtual instruction.

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