In this article we continue looking at strategies to help you consistently practice even if you're really
busy. In the last article on guitar practice we talked about the strategy of making a choice between
letting go or building your desire. If you haven't read that article yet, I highly recommend doing it now…
All done? Cool.
I'm assuming that you have invested some time into building your desire, and have carved out a small amount
of time from your busy schedule for guitar practice. If you haven't, then this article won't help you much!
OK…let's now take a look at another strategy. This strategy is really all about maximizing the benefit you
can receive from a small amount of guitar practice…
Strategy Two: Setting Internalization
If you've read a lot of the articles I've written, you probably realize that I'm a big believer in
internalization. Simply put, this means practicing something until you can play it without thinking.
Becoming an excellent guitarist is really just the process of internalizing things so that things that feel
unnatural eventually feel natural. Internalization moves things from the conscious to the subconscious. And
this is essential. You need to eventually be able to do things without having to think consciously about what
you are doing.
The great jazz pianist Bill Evans once said that a big reason why many people can't improvise
fluently is that they try to bypass the internalization process. And I tend to agree with him. I would even go
further than that what he said. Here's what I believe…
Trying to bypass the internalization process makes getting good on any musical instrument
I feel very strongly about this. When you see a great musician, you are seeing the results of
internalization. They have mastered specific skills so deeply, that those skills become "part of them".
So how do you set internalization goals? Lets take a look now…
It is very valuable to set weekly internalization goals. I recommend that they have the following
- They take 15 minutes of practice in each practice session.
They focus on ONE specific thing. For example…
- One guitar lick.
- A four bar section of a song. (Either a cover tune, or one that you've composed).
- One exercise.
- Transcribing a small part of a solo by ear.
- They have a predetermined number of practice sessions. For example, you might set a goal of practicing
one specific exercise five times in a week.
- You have worked out specifically how you will practice the item in each practice session. If you
are using a metronome, then write down what metronome settings you will use for each practice session. (Ask
your guitar teacher for advice on what settings would be most effective).
This is how I generally structure my practice. I tend to think in 15-minute chunks of time. So if I am
practicing for 60-minutes a day, then I will set four internalization goals for the week. (I will practice
each of the four goals for 15-minutes daily). This allows me to progress significantly on four specifc
skills over the course of the week.
Putting This Into Practice
To get started with internalization goals, please do the following…
Step One: Make A Commitment
Decide on how much daily practice you will do next week. Once you've decided this, schedule each
practice session into your diary. Think of it as making an important appointment with yourself.
Step Two: Set Internalization Goals
Set ONE internalization goal for each 15-minutes of practice you do each day. For example: If you
practice 60-minutes a day, then you will set 4 goals. If you only practice 15-minutes a day, then you
will set one goal. If you practice less than 15-minutes each day, then you need to find a new instrument
to learn. (Maybe the kazoo or the nose-flute?).
Here is a worksheet that you may want to download and print out. It's got space for setting up to four
internalization goals a week…
Step Three: Do It
Obviously, there's not much point to setting goals and not actually following through on them. 'Nuff
Alright, that's all for now. But before you go, please take a few moments to think of answers to the
following two questions…
- What are some of the benefits to this approach to organizing guitar practice?
- Why would it be best to focus on one thing in each 15-minute block, rather than practicing lots of
Have fun, and I'll catch you next time.