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Guitar Practice: Top 5 Things NOT To Do

Updated: 3 days ago

In the last article we looked at what things we should be doing in our guitar practice routines (link in the bottom of this article) but in this article we will be going over what NOT to do in practices. The idea of this article essentially continues with some more good practices to replace bad habits that I have witnessed in my time as a teacher.

None of this list below is in any particular order of importance but rather that they hold similar importance and as a whole can be used to further your progression in your practice time.

5 Tips Of What NOT To Do In a Practice Routine

I will be going over each of these topics in bigger detail starting with the first one:

Obsessing Over One Thing

From my observations, either from teaching many people or watching others describe practice routines; there is a common place in practice routines to practice the same thing over and over.

Which can foster a resentment or feeling a sense of unease when picking up the guitar.

I just want to say that it is totally valid to feel some frustration when playing but it is more important to be kind to yourself and understand that practicing is about learning new things which may be difficult at first but it does get easier over time.

Forgetting About Rhythmic Practice

Guitarists are notorious for focusing on lead playing over rhythmic playing because its flashy, fancy and sounds cool when done well.

Sadly the harsh reality is that when a guitarist is performing, 90% of the time you will be playing rhythm. So my question is why put in disproportional amount of time to practice lead playing? when the most important part to guitar playing is playing rhythm!

It is far more important to play your part as a solid rhythm player than it is for 16 bars of a song.

Of course, it is good to practice soloing in its own right but in the guitar community there is an over emphasis on it, disproportionately so.

Make sure to incorporate rhythmic practice into your routines I can’t stress how important it is!

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Stop Noodling And Start Practicing!

"Practice should be about learning new things and dedicating time to achieving goals"

What do I mean by noodling?

Noodling is when you are picking up the guitar playing in freeform messing around whilst not paying much attention to what your playing, and generally going through the motions of what you would usually do.

Which in my experienced opinion isn’t actually practice!

It's just playing the same stuff you already knew.

Practice should be about learning new things and dedicating time to achieving goals.

There can be times to noodle, like as a reward for practicing a certain amount of time. It should be understood that there is a difference between the two and that practice takes precedent before noodling.


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Practicing Without Good Posture

When you are practicing you should be trying to make the guitar feel as natural as possible in accordance with how your body operates.

Having good posture helps with this endeavour as a good rule of thumb is practicing in a way that’s both useful sitting down as with when you stand.

This is important because you don’t want to be practicing and then have to alter how you hold your guitar when you stand up. Ultimately you are setting yourself up for failure or you have to retrain your technique for the different occasions of sitting and standing.

Reinforcing good posture helps reduce potential injuries such as rsi (repetitive strain injury) or back and shoulder pain from incorrect posture.

This is why when I practice I try to take the weight of the guitar onto my back through using the strap and I also use classical position to practice as it allows for my hands to reach the top parts of the fretboard with ease.

Focusing Purely On Speed And Forgetting About Accuracy

"Due to practicing the guitar with accuracy it only becomes a matter of time before you reach a new speed plateau"

Another typical behaviour that guitarists do with their practice is to focus on speed over accuracy.

Speed is nice and can be alot of fun, but if people can’t hear what you are saying, it sounds like mumbling.

Imagine someone talking to you at break neck speed but not being able to articulate anything they are saying with their words, what would your first reaction be to them?

When playing an instrument you want to aim for each note to be heard for the proper length and duration of the note. If you “scuff” or not give the proper attention to each note, people listening to you tend to know when you are not giving the right amount of effort to each note which gives the impression that you are not delivering the full impact of what you are trying to say with each note.

Focusing on playing each note equally is a far better approach to practice. From doing this you get used to subdividing the note in an equal manner, it then becomes an issue of dexterity at the correct tempo.

Due to practicing the guitar with accuracy it only becomes a matter of time before you reach a new speed plateau.

Currently with the way the guitar is taught online, there is a huge emphasis on “having to be the fastest” or “sweep pick this at 200 bpm” which doesn’t really help you progress with the foundations of music. What really helps is making sure every note you play lasts the duration you intend and practicing in this manor consistently.

I hope this list gives you a lot to think about in regards to what not to practice.

You maybe interested in the list of what you should do when you practice you can find this here.

This article was written by: GuitarGuyNick

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