Whether you aspire to become an advanced guitar player, or you already are way past the simple riffs and licks, progressing is always a challenge. Furthermore, how to better use your practice time to keep elevating your guitar skills is a great question to ask.
In reality, practicing routine is usually different
for beginners and advanced players. But I
believe, it wouldn’t have to be different, as
beginners would profit a lot more by applying
some advanced practicing techniques, but we have to take into account that guitar playing also has to be fun. Especially for beginners.
Thus, learning simple songs that sound good is typically the way to go for beginners. That doesn’t mean that practicing can’t be fun for advanced guitarists. Quite the opposite. The playing becomes even more fun, the more you grow as a musician. It’s just that most beginners would be overwhelmed by some concepts described here.
“What hasn’t been done before?” – The starting point
A very good starting point is to know your playing inside out. What concepts, scales, fingerings, chords, etc., are not yet comfortable under your fingers? Where are your weaknesses? Think of your guitar skills like a map yet to be explored. That way, your practice feels more like an adventure than a boring chore. If you don’t know your weaknesses off the bat, you can join some live jam sessions, record some music on your own, or join a band and play live. Putting yourself in real life situations will enable you to pinpoint your weaknesses. You just have to analyze them and then put them on your practicing menu.
Your practicing menu Building muscles
A part of your practicing routine will consist of building your musical muscles. This is where you’ll build your guitar speed, put different scale sequences/positions/fingerings/techniques in your muscle memory, work on your fretboard knowledge (where the notes are), and generally practice items that are not yet comfortable to you.
If you want to get the most out of your practice, you will also have to practice application. While repeating the same thing over and over again becomes boring quickly, playing the same thing in different musical contexts and exploring the possibilities, will give you a much deeper knowledge and a lot less brain fatigue. Moreover, it will actually make your skills usable.
Learning music theory for the sake of it really means nothing. But applying music theory concepts into your music will enable you to become a lot more creative in your songwriting and composition, and will make it easier to get around your instrument in different situations. It will improve your improvisation skills and general creativity. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on your own. You can learn what musicians have been doing for hundreds of years and try to make it your own.
So, take some time out of your practice and try to use everything you know about music so far and create your own versions of it.
Apart from technical aspects of guitar playing, you will also want to work on expressing yourself through your music. This is where you will work on “how” you play certain things. Just by changing and combining different phrasing elements like dynamics, bends, slides, trills, etc., in the licks you have been playing for years, will make your playing sound a lot more interesting.
Also try to really put yourself into every note you play and connect with your instrument. You may think this is something you either have or don’t have, but I can tell you from experience that you CAN learn it. Much like you can learn to control your thoughts and meditate. This is gold, and it will make your guitar journey a lot more fulfilling.
The last but not least. Advanced guitar players will find themselves focusing a lot more on actually creating music, than practicing and learning songs. Being active as a songwriter, even if you only write for yourself and your trash can, will enable you to actually implement all the concepts we have talked about here so far.
I hope this gives you a better overview of a more advanced guitar practice routine. Even if you are a beginner, you can start using these concepts at your own depth of knowledge. Just pick one and start today. It will not only make your potential to become an amazing guitar player a lot higher, but it will also put you on the right path to reach it.
© Janez Janežič, 2023
About the author
Janez Janežič is a guitar player, songwriter, and music teacher from Slovenia. He owns his own guitar school in Novo mesto, where he offers some of the best guitar lessons in his region. If you are looking to learn more about how to become a better guitar player, be sure to contact him through his website.