Practice makes perfect, everyone knows. But as a grown-up, with grown-up responsibilities, and grown-up commitments, it seems like finding time to practice is one of those things on the to-do list that often falls by the wayside.
The question is “why?”
I get it, you’re too tired… you’re not motivated… your fingers hurt… or, if we’re really being honest, you’d rather sit on your ass and zone out in front of the television watching reality shows of other people who are out there pursuing your dreams.
I know, I’ve been there.
But that was the old me.
The new me couldn’t imagine a day going by where I don’t pick up the guitar and practice a few chords, or do a few scale runs, or maybe just do some random finger exercises.
I jump back and forth from practicing new songs, to working on some lessons from good ‘ol Mel Bay. Sometimes I’ll plug in… and other times I’m just lounging on the sofa strumming out random crap. And while I do try to ensure I also have focused, concerted practice time; the point here is that not a day goes by where I don’t have the guitar in my hands at least for a little bit.
At this point I couldn’t imagine spending time watching some mindless program when I could be playing the guitar. I couldn’t imagine myself watching random YouTube clips over and over, when I could be playing guitar. I just couldn’t imagine letting my days continue to slip by and not play the guitar.
But back to the question of WHY do we skip out on our practice time? Well, as I’ve come to learn… the answer is frustratingly simple: we don’t care enough to want to get better.
That’s it, that’s the reason you find time to practice… You don’t care about getting better.
I used to not care about getting better. Or, actually, I didn’t think I needed to care about practice to get better. I thought if I played around enough, or pretended to have fun as I banging out sounds without any real clue of what I was playing, that somehow miraculously I would improve and head down the path of guitar rockstardom. Well, let me be Captain Obvious for a second… it doesn’t work that way. Ya need to practice.
Not only do you need to practice, you need to care about practicing. And once you realize the benefits and value of practice… once you see that your skill level starts to climb rapidly the more you practice… you’ll begin to care more and more and more.
And from there you’ll “find” the time to practice.
Because it’s not so much that you don’t have the time, you’re just not using the time you do have. Like I said, I know what it’s like to have all your waking hours chewed up at a job, chewed up with family commitments, chewed up with household chores. I get it. But I also care deeply about becoming an amazing fucking guitar player, so in turn I care deeply about practicing my ass off whenever I can. No, I don’t have a ton of time either… and often I end up practicing less time than I wish I could. But I still do it every day.
Why? Practice makes perfect.
To give you a sense of my daily schedule, I’m up at 7a, off to daycare at 8a, work 9-6p, go home, eat dinner, get the kids ready for bed, bath time, story time, squeeze in a quick workout and WHEW! look at the clock and it’s around 9:30 or 10p. This isn’t anything too impressive… I have a lot of friends with similar routines… but it’s at that 10p mark that I hear many people “winding down from a long day” in front of the TV, perhaps in bed or on the couch, and then hitting the sack shortly after to rest up for tomorrow. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
But for me, that evening window from 10p – 12a is when the magic happens. That is when I head over to the rec room and pick up the guitar. I’ll open up the lesson book and work on a few pages, or put on the strap and rock out a bit in my living room, or sit down to chat a bit with my wife (while holding the guitar of course; it’s ok, she’s not jealous 🙂 I got in to this routine a few months ago and it has made A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE in my abilities. Just as important, however, is that it keeps my passion growing. Each night of practice is like fuel on the fire, igniting my passion stronger and stronger.
I often feel like I could practice all hours in to the night, but alas, by midnight the day has caught up to me and I head to bed really tired. Hey, that’s just a reality, I don’t stress it. Even if I’m exhausted, I’m ultimately satisfied with myself.
I do the 1-2 hour evening thing probably four days a week, and on the other days I’m squeezing in practice here or there wherever I can. As long as I don’t let a day pass without holding the guitar, I know I’ll keep moving forward.
And I suggest the same for you. Just find time and prove to the world and to yourself that you do care about getting better. You do want to improve. You will practice.
So, that is what has been working for me. If you have any suggestion of how/where to find time to practice, please leave a comment and share with everyone.