So it’s summer finally, and for a lot of music students, that means taking a break from lessons and practicing. For a lot of people, summer is actually busier than the rest of the year, with camps, vacations, traveling sports teams, and about a million other activities. For parents, it’s understandable that your student can’t practice as much as usual, and the same is true if your an adult student. Eating sno-cones, grilling burgers, and driving over the Indiana state line for fireworks can really eat up a lot of time, so it’s important that you get the most out of the time you do have to play. Here’s 3 tips to make the most of your guitar practicing.
#1- Practice with a clear goal.
Straightforward enough, but maybe easier said than done. It’s so much fun to blast that White Stripes riff that you learned last month (and that is the point isn’t it? to have fun?), but try to carve out some time for working on that difficult chord progression that’s driving you nuts and that you’ve put on the back burner. I know, it can be tough to slow down and think about what you actually want to accomplish, but try to pick one goal a day. For younger students, it’s great to write down the song they should be working on so that your student knows what they should be working on. That way you can say to your child, “Gee that Rolling Stones chord progression sounds great, but aren’t you supposed to be working on the E Blues scale?” (Believe me, that exchange has happened in real life.)
#2- Use a tuner to tune your guitar before each practice session
So yeah, in my line of work I have heard my fair share of out-of-tune guitars. I often say that tuning is a skill you have to learn, just like strumming or doing a hammer-on. That being said, there are so many electronic tuners on the market that are easy to use that you should definitely be able to tune each time you practice. If your guitar is out of tune, it’s going to make everything sound bad, which is going to make you feel discouraged, which is going to make you not want to practice, which will make you sound even more bad, which will make you more discouraged, which will make you not want to practice, which will, uh, you get the idea. Guitars go out of tune very quickly, so even if you tuned your guitar last month (as I was once cheerfully told by a student), go ahead and give it a quick once over with an electronic tuner.
#3 Have fun
I feel like I was a little strict in those last 2 points, so you know, make sure to loosen up and have some fun. Summer can feel kind of like kind of a downtime, so use this season to look at your goals and think about what songs you want to learn, what do you want to get really good at. Get inspired and decide that your going to tackle the solo to “Stairway to Heaven,” or maybe set a goal to get really good at reading notes in first position. An ambitious yet realistic goal will motivate you to practice and take your guitar playing to the next level.