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  • Writer's pictureAaron Carrington

The Key to Successful Practice for Beginner Guitar Players

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Contents


Nylon string guitar with someone's hand performing a B minor chord

Introduction


As a beginner guitar player, practicing effectively is crucial to building a strong foundation and progressing on your musical journey. In this blog post, we will explore the key elements of successful practice specifically tailored for beginners. By implementing these strategies, you can optimize your practice routine and set yourself up for steady progress on the guitar.


Set Clear and Achievable Goals


As a beginner, it's important to set clear and achievable goals that align with your current skill level. Identify specific objectives, such as learning basic chords, a simple song, or improving finger coordination. Breaking down large goals into smaller, manageable tasks will help you track your progress and stay motivated throughout your practice sessions. For example to improve finger coordination you could work on making sure your fingers sit in the optimal fret position or are able to work independently of each other.


Establish a Consistent Practice Routine


Consistency is key, especially for beginners. Designate regular practice time 4 - 5 days per week for 15 minutes at a time. Shorter, more frequent practice sessions are often more effective for beginners than infrequent, longer sessions. This is because it takes your brain time to store things in your long term memory. Establishing a routine will help develop muscle memory and ensure steady improvement over time. Please avoid storing up your practice and doing it all in one day. This will not work very well and will probably leave you frustrated. Click to read 5 Common Mistakes New Guitarists Make and How to Avoid Them.


Lined book with the word 'goals' in relation to setting guitar goals for beginners

Warm-Up Exercises and Fundamental Techniques


Begin each practice session with warm-up exercises that focus on finger stretching, dexterity, and coordination. Simple exercises like chromatic scales will prepare your fingers and hands for playing. Additionally, dedicate time to fundamental techniques such as proper hand positioning, strumming, and basic chord transitions. Building a strong technical foundation early on will benefit your playing in the long run.


Practice Mindfully and Focus on Accuracy


When practicing, be fully present and mindful of each note you play. Pay close attention to your hand positioning, strumming technique, and the sound you produce. Focus on accuracy rather than speed. Slow down and ensure that you're playing each note or chord correctly before gradually increasing your tempo. Sometimes students get caught up in playing too fast on a continuous basis and end up rehearsing the same mistakes time and again leading to frustration. It’s tempting to try and emulate a song note-for-note at full tempo. But remember, there's no shame in slowing it down if that’s what you need to do to play it right. Accuracy over speed wins every time. Mindful and accurate practice will lay a solid foundation for your future progress.


Break Down Songs and Exercises into Manageable Chunks


As a beginner, tackling an entire song or exercise at once can feel overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, manageable chunks and focus on mastering each section before moving on to the next. Here’s a system that I use:

  • Learn bar 1 until you can play it all the way through with no mistakes

  • Learn bar 2 until you can play it all the way through with no mistakes

  • Put bars 1 & 2 together

  • Now repeat the process for bars 2 & 3, bars 3 & 4 etc.

  • Every 4 bars, try to play those 4 bars together before moving on to the next 4 bars

  • Every so often, start the piece from the beginning and see how far you can get

When utilizing practice time this way, the results can come quite quickly but you have to be thorough!


Cup of tea with guitar in background that suggests relaxing practice for beginners players

Incentivise Yourself and Stay Motivated


Throughout your practice journey, incentivise yourself and celebrate the progress you make, no matter how small. Here’s something I like to do: I love a few cups of tea in the first half of the day so I might use as my reward for practicing. Is there something you like to eat or do regularly that you could use as a reward for your 15 minutes?


Keep Your Guitar on a Stand


This is a neat little psychological trick. Keep that guitar close by. If it remains in its case you have to consciously think about it, unzip the guitar bag, tune it up and then you can finally start. However, if you keep it somewhere it can be seen and is easily accessible then you’re more likely to pick it up and start playing.


Conclusion


Successful practice for beginner guitar players is all about setting achievable goals, establishing a consistent routine, focusing on accuracy, breaking down songs into manageable parts, and utilizing practice techniques tailored to beginners. Remember, the key is to enjoy the process and celebrate your progress along the way. With dedication and effective practice strategies, you'll be amazed at how far you can progress on your guitar-playing journey. Keep strumming and have fun!


Looking for a teacher to hold you accountable for your practice? Book yourself a free trial lesson and see if lessons could work for you.


About The Author

Aaron Carrington  the author of this page and owner of Carrington Guitar Academy in Bath

Aaron Carrington is the owner of Carrington Guitar Academy in Bath, UK. Since graduating from The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London. Aaron has played in high profile locations such as Buckingham Palace, The Savoy and The London Eye.


He’s been a regular part of the UK wedding and corporate gig scene and has travelled internationally to the Middle East to play in top quality residency bands 6 nights per week. The finesse gained from this level of playing experience is passed on to his guitar students.


Now permanently in Bath, Aaron strives to deliver the highest standards of guitar teaching at Carrington Guitar Academy by offering a personalized lesson plan tailored to each student’s goals. You may also catch Aaron busking regularly on the streets of Bath. If you're interested in guitar lessons get in touch to book a FREE trial lesson!

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