What’s the best way to practice guitar?
Now that is a tough one!
When it comes to practicing the guitar; it really all comes down to you, and what you feel capable of. As with all things in life, some people who take up guitar will be “naturals” and “overachievers”- whereas others will struggle more and take longer. I know people who have started learning Guitar at similar times- and some just naturally progress quicker than others. It’s human nature- it’s just annoying when you draw the short straw!
I would personally recommend that you practice Guitar as much as you feel comfortable. Everyone has different amounts of free time- so I can’t really sit here and say: “YOU MUST PRACTICE 3 HOURS A DAY” if you have a full-time job and a family- it just isn’t realistic.
More than 1 hour a day is ideal- but if you can’t fit that in then do what you can! Playing Guitar should be about having fun- not stressing out! I do recommend practicing when everyone around you is awake though- waking people up by twanging your six-string never seems to go down well with them (yes I do speak from experience).
Where you practice is also quite important. You want to be somewhere tranquil and not filled with distractions. If it’s a sunny day then go and practice somewhere quiet outside! Playing Acoustic Guitar in the sun is hugely relaxing. Also wherever you play do be aware of others- not everyone appreciates hearing Guitar-playing all day unfortunately.
Also I am a big believer in taking breaks. When you’re playing your hands inevitably get tired and fatigue starts to kick in. You don’t want to tire yourself out or demotivate yourself from enjoying the Guitar. Have a short break and return refreshed! Also you should prepare for callouses on our fretting fingers- especially when playing acoustics. Fretting will be a little bit painful sometimes but eventually you will develop the callouses and it will be a less painful experience for all digits involved.
By the way- if you want to practice getting your fretting hand to move a bit more smoothly then I have an exercise for you to try. On the Top E-String, use all your fingers to fret 5, 6, 7 and 8. Then one by one, move each finger on to the next string (A then D then G etc). The trick is that you can’t move your fingers from the current string until you need to. So you would have all fingers on 5,6,7 and 8 on the E-string- and then just move your index finger onto the 5th fret of the A string, keeping everything pressed down. Then progress with your other fingers. This sounds easy but when you try it it’s actually very difficult! It forces you to control your fingers independently rather than using your hand as a whole. It is particularly difficult with your ring finger and little finger, they just want to move in unison!
Now, the question of: “What to practice?” Is a difficult one.
I would recommend that you expand your range as much as possible and practice a bit of everything. You should practice techniques from different genres and techniques specific to both Acoustic and Electric Guitar. If you try your hand at a bit of everything then you’re more likely the find your strengths and weakness and pick up on them.
Practice your Open Chords, Barre Chords, Power-Chords, Single-Note melodies and solos- practice a bit of everything!
Just be careful when you practice specific songs. Chances are that your favourite song by your favourite band is gonna be pretty musically advanced. Unfortunately no one can play Hotel California after practicing for a couple of days- it’s sad but true.
If you’re itching to play along to your favourite songs (it is encouraging after all) then try simplifying them a bit. Play the rhythm guitar section (if there is one) or if the chords are a bit difficult then turn them into the corresponding power-chords and use them to practice your power-chords. When I was starting out I used to practice power-chords in this way- playing along to musicians you admire just makes you feel good!
I hope this has given you some guidance on the best ways the learn and practice. Just remember to keep pushing yourself and once you have grasped something them move on to something harder- that’s the key to progressing.