Often times when a guitar player struggles to make any real progress because they simply don't know how to practice. They bounce around from one thing to the next, dabble in a little theory here and there, do some chord changes. Perhaps they look up another YouTube video that's promising to give them all the answers. And when that doesn’t work they hire a "professional" guitar instructor who's professional advice is more often than not to "just keep practicing." Uggh! What gives?
Although there are many variables that can cause someone to not progress when learning the guitar,
specifically we are going to talk about the art of HOW TO PRACTICE.
Practicing guitar is when you are drilling, training, and working at something specific to improve your musical skills and/or proficiency.
Playing guitar is when you are enjoying the use of the skills you have worked to develop.
Below is an example for what this looks like in "real life."
Sara has CLARITY on what she is trying to achieve in the long term and short term and she practices and drills to achieve / accomplish the small tasks that are right in front of her. She knows she needs to speed up the "F" chord and that she can transition from Am to F smoothly at 60 bpm changing chords on each beat. She then tries for 70bpm, getting lots of reps, and takes notes of her progress.
Benjamin has no clarity on what he's trying to achieve long term nor in the short time (each practice session), he drifts from one thing to the next, never focusing on anything long enough to improve. Doesn't know where he's at, what he's done so far, nor what the next step is. Like Sara, he does know he needs to speed up his chord changes but hasn't a clue on his current speed so unknowingly tries to skip steps and play much faster than he is able and it just never seems to comes together. Basically he just screws around on the guitar and calls it "practice."
But I just want to play for fun, not be a "serious" guitar player...
Totally get it. We ALL like to play guitar because it's fun. However, I think we can both agree that the guitar is A LOT more fun when you're good at it and can do what you want. Right? The best thing to do here would be to do BOTH. Spend time practicing to get better, but then also spend time playing and enjoying your skills.
Practice To Get Better, Play To Have Fun