Note: this is the third article in a short series designed to help you play your guitar more often, because the more you play your guitar, the better you'll get! If you haven't already, check out part 1 and part 2.
The more you play your guitar, the better you will get.
So far in this series we've looked at keeping your guitar on a stand, and building a habit around something else you do on a daily basis.
While both of these are great strategies, it's worth developing a wider toolkit for getting your guitar practice in.
I've found over the years that it sometimes takes a variety of tools to keep yourself moving forward. Habits may work for a while, but then your schedule changes.
You keep the guitar on a stand in your living room, but now it's summer and you're spending your time outside.
Whenever one strategy stops helping you play more, you can always change your approach - if you have more than one trick up your sleeve.
This lesson will focus on scheduling guitar practice into your day.
It can be as simple as a reminder on your phone, or an entry into your calendar app. Just something to give you a little nudge to pick up your guitar.
One way to guarantee that you play guitar more often is to schedule it into your day.
Your weekly guitar lesson is probably on the calendar, and there aren't many reasons you would miss it.
If you look at your daily schedule, there are probably some blank spots where you definitely could schedule in a guitar session.
This works really well for some people, and it has worked off and on for me over the years.
I've found that it works really well for my students who are really busy in the rest of their lives.
If practicing guitar isn't on their calendar, they don't practice between lessons. If playing guitar is on the calendar though, they won't miss a single practice session.
Block Out Your Practice Time
Start by looking at your schedule, and seeing where you have some open space.
Then, create an event in your calendar app, and set it up to remind you when it's practice time.
You don't have to block out an hour to practice in most cases. Especially if you're playing guitar for fun.
Just 10-20 minutes can be a big help to your guitar playing, especially if you're spending that time regularly.
Putting my practice time on the calendar was really helpful for me, especially in my first couple of years of college.
I would put all of my classes and performing groups for the term into my calendar, and then I would schedule my practice time.
I treated it as if it were another class, and I never missed it.
Sticking To Your Schedule (Or Not)
Creating a schedule for your practice can be really helpful for your guitar playing - as long as you can stick to it.
I find that if there is a timeline - something I have to do next - that I'll stick to a schedule really well.
The idea of a timeline for me works in both the short term and the long term.
A short term timeline would be like when I'm fitting in some practice between teaching lessons.
I'm literally trying to get my practice done before the next thing on my daily schedule, and I might look at my day ahead of time and schedule those practice sessions in so I don't miss them.
A long term timeline would be getting ready for a particular rehearsal or performance.
It might be a week or a month away, but there is something I'm preparing for and each day that passes means I have less time to practice for it.
For this situation, it's not just that I'm practicing, but what I'm practicing that counts.
I'll schedule in daily times with a note on what I'm preparing for to keep myself focused.
At the same time, If I'm artificially trying to create a schedule where there's not a real need to, I usually find a way to rebel against my own calendar.
I find this with a lot of students as well.
If we need to be strictly scheduling things because that's the only way they will get done, then scheduling works great.
But if I don't have a reason I need to create a schedule, I'm better off following one of my other strategies for playing guitar more often.
Experiment For Yourself
It's important for you to remember that learning guitar is a process, and there will never be one magical answer (to anything related to guitar).
As you go through these articles, take some time to experiment with each approach to see what works best for you.
You might be a person that easily forms habits, or can't walk past your guitar on a stand without picking it up and playing it, or you might need to see your practice time on your calendar in order to remember to practice that day.
This is why we have different strategies to help us practice more guitar.
Experiment with each of these approaches over time, and see what works for you.
More importantly, stick with what works for as long as it works for you.
It's likely that what helps you play more today might not help you much a year from now. At that point, try one of the other strategies in these articles.
Then we repeat the process: find what works, do that until it doesn't help anymore, try a new strategy, repeat.
Find a couple of times this week where you can schedule a practice session.
It doesn't have to be long - even a 5 minute guitar break can help you get moving.
Schedule your practice session in your calendar and set it to remind you a little bit ahead of time if you can.
Do your best to stick to your schedule.
See if this approach will help you play more throughout the week.
Keep playing, and let me know how it goes!
Other Articles In This Series: