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How Guitarists Really Practice

The skills of a guitar player will only evolve through consistent practice. This we know. The difficulty lies in actually practicing when we practice. Most of you know what I’m talking about, but for those who might not understand, let me set the scene.

It’s morning. You've just had a second cup of coffee. You’re feeling energized and motivated to become the best guitar player you can be. You strut over to your guitar with a look of determination in your eye, intent on having a practice session even Steve Vai would applaud.

You pick up your ax, open A Modern Method for Guitar and set your metronome to 120 beats per minute. “Here we go, baby. Melodic minor, first mode.”

The practice session begins. You’re staying strong, enduring the tedious scale exercises ringing against the monotonous sound of the metronome click. You know what you’re doing is for the greater good. You know your future self will thank you for putting in these practice hours.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a mysterious force compels you to stop practicing. You persevere, but the haunting power weighs on you more and more with each passing note. Maybe it’s the lack of distortion and delay in your guitar tone. Perhaps it’s the mind-numbingly dull exercises you’re playing. Whatever the reason, you begin to waiver. A cold sweat comes over you.

You scream to yourself, “No! What are you doing? Stop!” But you can’t stop. Your hand is being drawn against your will toward the computer keyboard. Like a flash, you’re on YouTube. It’s as if you have no control over your own body. You look on helplessly as you type “SICK METAL BACKING TRACK” into the search bar. Your practice session has morphed into a mindless shred session, and there’s nothing you can do but accept it.

You heave your guitar book at the wall, crank up the distortion and delay, and begin ripping your favorite licks. It was a valiant effort.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.