How To Practice

Dream Theater - Masters Of Practice
Dream Theater - Masters Of Practicing

   How many times have you wished you could be better at your instrument? Or wished you could be a better singer? We all know that the best way to improve is to practice our craft. It’s the biggest no-brainer there is about being a musician. To get better, one has to practice. I’ve read interviews with the worlds elite musicians and they’re quoted all the time saying things like “I practiced 8 hours a day.” or “I even practice my guitar on the toilet.” That’s all good and fine but how many of us really have that kind of time, or actually want to practice on the toilet? Not me, but I have found an excellent bunch of ways to practice that really work and won’t take all your time.

   I’m going to give you a quick list of practice tips today that really work for me when it comes to practicing my guitar. Here they are:

  1. Make it easy to pick up your instrument.
  2. Have something to practice.
  3. Practice a little every day.
  4. Practice to a beat.
  5. Practice with other people.

   That’s a simple little list isn’t it? It’s simple and it works like you wouldn’t believe!

   First of all make sure you can get to your instrument easily. I don’t like to have to set up my amp, dig my guitar out of it’s case, find a strap and track down picks everytime I want to practice. I always have a guitar and amp set up right by my computer. The guitar has a strap on it and picks sitting by it. It’s within arms reach even as I’m typing this. I can grab that guitar anytime I want and play it. So invest in a permanent practice setup if you don’t have one already.

   Next, make sure you have something to practice. You don’t always have to practice a scale or particular song but it’s good to have a list of things you want to learn or work on. I keep a couple Guitar Player magazines sitting around which are full of lessons I can work on. It’s fine if you just want to pick up your guitar and noodle. The important thing is to play.

  Now that you have something setup all the time that’s easy to get to, and you have some things to practice. Grab that instrument and play it! You can play for 5 minutes and that will be 5 minutes more practice than you would have gotten if you hadn’t picked up that instrument. If you pick up your instrument for 5 minutes, 4 times a day, then you have just completed 20 minutes a day of practice. Just do a little here and there and those practice times will increase and so will your skill.

   It’s a great idea to practice as much as possible to a beat. The beat is what keeps you in sync with all the other musicians in the world. If you practice too much without a beat you will struggle to play with other musicians. It’s not fun at all if you can’t stay together with a group of your friends because you can’t play on the beat. I’ve written a great post about practicing to a beat in my post “Practicing To A Beat, Not A Metronome”.

   Finally, practice with other people. Nothing is more fun than sitting around jamming. Jamming is learning on a very high level. You learn about your abilities and you learn tips and tricks from those around you as well. You learn how to function with other musicians and that increases your skill level for playing live with your band. So call up your buddies and set up a regular jam night.

   I promise if you follow these tips, your skills will increase by leaps and bounds. Then one day when you’re giving an interview and the interviewer asks you how you got to be so skilled on your instrument you can say, “I practiced 8 hours a day…on the toilet!”  Good Jammin’ People. -Matt- 🙂

Author: Live Musician Central

My name is Matt Rushton. I have been playing in bands for 27 years. I've been playing professionally for 21 years. I have opened for Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett, Little River Band, and Quiet Riot.

4 thoughts on “How To Practice”

  1. I used to practice more on the toilet. I kept dropping my picks….

  2. Ha ha, I hear you Earl you old dog. I guess you’ll just have to practice your fingerstyle picking on the toilet. 😮

  3. C’mon Earl, you get most of your tone from the terlit anyway!

    That sounds like CRAP!

    Take some crap, throw it in the terlit, let it sit for a day, flush the terlit, scrape up the skid mark, and THAT’S the kinda crap I’m talking about… serious CRAP!

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