The Guitar Mastery Practice Planning Process

In this article we take a look at the exact process that I use to plan my guitar practice. I call it The Guitar Mastery Practice Planning Process. (Try saying that 10 times in a row quickly!!!). Although the specifics of practice planning will be different for every guitarist, the actual process can be used by anyone.

Before I explain the process, please take a look at the pretty diagram that I created below. I also recommend taking a few minutes to think about what it means. Once you've done that then continue reading…


The Guitar Mastery Practice Planning Process

The Guitar Mastery Practice Planning Process

OK. Let's now take a look at all the steps of this process…


Everything you practice must be driven by your goals. If you don't have clear musical goals, then how the heck do you know what you need to practice? Many people don't set goals for themselves, and then they wonder why they aren't progressing quickly. And here's an interesting question…

How do you even know if you're progressing if you don't have goals?


Vision: What To Practice

In this step you will need to think about WHAT you need to practice in order to reach your musical goals. This step is absolutely essential because you can potentially waste years of your life if you practice things that don't relate to your goals. This step includes making many important decisions. Here are a few decisions that you will need to make…

  • What music theory you need to learn.
  • What scales, chords and arpeggios you need to learn.
  • What techniques you need to master.
  • What musical vocabulary and repertoire you need to develop.

These decisions are critical, because making the wrong ones can make reaching your goals impossible. Let's take a look at an example…

An Example:

About eight years ago I had someone start lessons with me. After talking to them in the first lesson, I found out that they wanted to become an awesome finger-style guitarist in the style of Tuck Andreas.

When I found this out, I then asked them what they were currently practicing. They replied that they were mainly practicing sweep picking. This represented a major problem, because practicing sweep picking would never get him to his goal. He could practice sweep picking for 12 hours a day, but it wouldn't get him any closer to his goal.

[SIDENOTE: I actually recommend to him that he needed to find another teacher. Why? Because although I can finger-pick, my area of expertise is with using a pick. With his goals, he needed to get lessons from a teacher who was awesome at finger-style guitar].

IMPORTANT: This step can often require you to make tough decisions. For example, you may not have enough free time to practice everything that you would like. If that's the case then you will need to prioritize and only practice the most critical items.


Strategy: When To Practice

This step of the process is an important one. It is for TIME-based decisions such as…

  • What time will you practice each day.
  • How long you will practice for each day.
  • The order of what you practice each day.
  • What things need to be practiced daily.
  • What things can be practiced less frequently than daily.

You get the idea. It is basically creating a schedule for your practice routine.


Execution: How To Practice

This involves making decisions about the exact way you will practice the items in your practice routine. It includes very essential microscopic practice details such as…

  • How to program your muscle-memory in an effective way.
  • How to prevent locking in muscle-tension into your muscles.
  • How to release locked-in muscle tension.
  • How to use your metronome.
  • How you will develop speed and fluidity.
  • How you will keep track of your progress.

You get the idea. It's the nitty-gritty details. :-) 


A Few Last Thoughts

The Guitar Mastery Practice Planning Process is a simple but very powerful tool. It can definitely help you make the most of your practice time. It can also save you from practicing unnecessary things.

But if you're like most guitarists you may need some guidance with it. So if you're not sure how to do any of the steps, then be sure to seek out a good guitar teacher. Make sure that they are VERY focused on structuring lessons around your goals.

Until next time…

Practice hard, and have fun!

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