The Best Way To Practice Guitar – The Ultimate Guide

What’s the best way to practice guitar? We break down the question in eight points in this lesson!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 8 tips for better practice
  • Why you should challenge yourself more in practice
  • The benefit of constant practice
  • How to practice in 5/4

The Best Way To Practice Guitar Is With A Routine!

Every professional musician will tell you the same two things when you ask them what the secret to becoming a better guitarist is.

  • First, they’ll tell you that there is no secret, and that’s it’s all just practice.
  • Second, they’ll tell you to create a solid and reliable practice routine to follow.

No matter if it’s your first day playing the guitar or your 10,000th – there’s never a bad time to construct a practice routine to help you find the best way to practice guitar.

best-way-to-practice-guitar

In this free guide, we’re going to cover the best way to practice guitar from multiple angles, each with a different goal in mind.

  • At the end, you’re going to be prompted to start designing a practice routine out of what you’ve learned here.
  • Make sure you have a practice journal nearby to start creating the best way to practice guitar for you and your learning style.

Pro Tip: No two guitarists are the same, no matter how much they would have you believe it.

Everyone learns differently, so do yourself a favour and don’t compare your progress to another musician’s.

The best way to practice guitar is at a pace that you’re comfortable with, so stick with that!

Now without further adieu, let’s dive into the lesson!

best-way-to-practice-guitar

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Consistency: Use A Metronome

Consistency is beyond important when it comes to playing the guitar.

Due to the fact that the guitar is such a dynamic instrument, learning to play clean and consistently is a big deal.

When you get to a higher level of guitar playing, this is something that other musicians seek out in the people they jam with.

So, what’s the key? Why, the dreaded metronome of course.

  • It’s not as bad as you think though, it just takes some getting used to.
  • Give yourself time to adjust to this wonderful learning tool and you will soon find that you can’t practice without it.

best-way-to-practice-guitar

Try This: Set a metronome to 70bpm and play your open E string four times per beat.

  • This exercise is simple and helps you learn to sync your picking hand with the metronome more easily.
  • You can try this at any fret, with any string and it will help tune your ear to the sound and feel of the metronome.
  • Eventually, it just feels like you always have a drummer with you.

The best way to practice guitar in order to achieve smoothness and consistency in our playing is with this genius little tool disguised as a nuisance.

The metronome gets a bad reputation, but it truly helps mold us into better players.

best-way-to-practice-guitar

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

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The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Music Theory: Write Your Own Chord Progressions!

That’s right – we want you to get creative!

Writing out your own chord progressions is a great way to begin to understand music theory, and how chords relate to one another.

  • It’s also the best way to write music in our opinion – by writing everything down.
  • As we progress in the realm of music theory education, we can begin to apply the principles that we have learned to the new chords we find.
  • No matter if the chords are in the same key or not, we should always strive for something out-of-the-box.

Experiment with different chords side-by-side to see how they interact with one another.

Try this weird-sounding chord progression below:

D MAJOR

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

D MINOR

A MINOR

E MAJOR

Pro Tip: As you progress along your guitar journey, you may be swayed by music theory into only practicing chord progressions inside of one key. This is why we gave the example above.

Two chords in that progression are not in the key of the progression itself (key of A natural minor) but they still work.

Do you know which chords they are?

You guessed it – D major and E major

Although these chords do not fit in the key of A natural minor, they do add their own personality to the mix by forcing you into a different key momentarily.

It’s important to experiment with chords and not be swayed to constantly obey the laws of music theory.

Best-way-to-practice-guitar

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Ear Training: Listen To More Music!

Ear training is an amazing way to improve on guitar.

Learning a song by ear is by far the best way to practice guitar if you want to focus on improving your ears.

  • Once we have become a little bit familiar with our fretboard and where the pitch lies, we are able to begin ‘hearing around’ the fretboard.
  • This can lead to us hearing patterns and discovering them with our ears.

Do yourself a favour – take an evening to listen to some of your favourite albums, and try to visualize where the songs are being played on the fretboard.

Once you find the root note of the song in question, you’ll have a much easier time figuring out the riffs within it.

Best-way-to-practice-guitar

The best way to practice guitar for ear training is to practice singing the notes that you play.

Not only does this help us register where the notes are on the fretboard with more accuracy; it also helps us develop a better sense of relative pitch.

  • Relative pitch is how we perceive notes in relation to one another.
  • For example, being able to hear a whole tone step between C and D.

Your ears are your most valuable tool when playing music – don’t leave them on the sidelines!

Best-way-to-practice-guitar

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Technique: Play The Same Riff Different Ways

This is an often-overlooked practice technique that applies to any level of guitar playing, and definitely falls into the category of ‘best way to practice guitar.’

Guitar riffs do not have to only be played one way.

We can get creative and mix up song riffs as many ways as we like to create new riffs where old ones once stood.

  • For example, instead of playing a progression of notes with a count of 4, try playing it with a count of 3.
  • If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can try counting in 5 as well.
  • This applies exceptionally well to strumming patterns.

Best-way-to-practice-guitar

Try This: Play the chord progression below with three different counts:

3/4 Time – One Two Three One Two Three

4/4 Time – One Two Three Four One Two Three Four

5/4 Time – One Two Three Four Five One Two Three Four Five

Pro Tip: In 5/4 time, we can play this strumming pattern to help us count out the rhythm easily:

One  Two  Three  Four  Five One  Two  Three  Four  Five

D         U         D         U      D    U       D         U         D       U

Notice how the strumming pattern direction changes on the second One?

This ‘revolving rhythm’ is what makes the rhythm of 5 so much fun to play. Give it a shot and try playing different progressions and riffs with different and interesting rhythms!

A MINOR


G MAJOR


C MAJOR

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Memory: Learn Songs

If there’s one universal truth in music besides the necessity of practice, it’s that you can never learn too many songs.

Learning songs teaches us so much:

  • We’re able to get into the head of the songwriter.
  • We often end up learning new chord progressions and chord combinations.
  • We’ll learn interesting musical passages that we may not have thought of or considered otherwise.
  • Our overall sense of musicality increases when we see and play music through someone else’s eyes (and ears).
  • Learning songs also helps us with memorization – a massive component of guitar playing and music in general.

We’ve included a short list below of some easy songs that you can throw in your practice regimen right away.

best-practice-methods-guitar

The best way to practice guitar is to jump into a song or exercise with the intention and openness to learning. Be open to learning and the music you play will teach you all sorts of lessons.

There’s something to be learned from every piece of music ever written. Check out some of our favourite beginner songs below:

The Cranberries – Zombie || Chords

Prince – Purple Rain || Chords

Vance Joy – Riptide || Chords

Jason Mraz – I’m Yours || Chords

Cream – Sunshine of Your Love || Chords

Pro Tip: Listen for similarities in the way chords move. There are patterns, details and differences to be found everywhere in music – they’re just waiting to be spotted.

For example, “Zombie” by The Cranberries follows one set of chords throughout the entire song without diverting or changing; whereas Vance Joy’s “Riptide” only diverts from the home chord progression for one small section.

Be attentive to what you’re playing and you’ll learn all sorts of cool concepts just from learning songs!

how-to-practice-on-guitar

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Progress: Challenge Yourself

Roy T. Bennett once said “Be brave and take risks. You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.”

We’d be dead wrong to say anything against this brilliant quote, because he’s absolutely right. We don’t have to have all of our bases covered to challenge ourselves and move forward.

Sometimes the best way to practice guitar is to dive head first into the unknown and try something outside of your comfort zone – something that you might even deem ‘unplayable’ for where you think your skill set lies.

  • Often in practice, we get comfortable and underestimate our ability to progress. Don’t do this!
  • The beautiful part about learning guitar is that we don’t have to learn from just one specific school of thought.

easy-way-to-practice-guitar

If you like the sound of something, you can learn it either with your ears or with the help of the internet (or even at your local music store).

Writer’s Note: Storytime! One of the best things I ever did was plunge myself into the great unknown by applying to study Jazz music. For context, I was a self-taught musician prior to that. I knew nothing about Jazz, but I jumped in and ended up falling in love with it.

Learning Jazz taught me so many lessons that have benefited me in every aspect of my musical career.

 

The point here isn’t to learn Jazz, it’s this: If you’re interested in something, put the time in and dive into it. You will always love what you find when you dig deep enough – especially in music.

fun-ways-to-practice-guitar

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Comprehension: Practice Your Scales

A good amount of you just shivered quietly in your chair when you read the word ‘scales,’ and we get it. Scales aren’t all that scary, though!

  • The best way to practice guitar in order to better understand how music works is to practice scales.
  • Scales help us get to the atomic level of music and understand the significance of whole steps and half steps.

If you’re new to guitar playing and this has you a little freaked out, don’t worry!

We’ve got the perfect introductory scales lesson for you right here.

We’ve also got two great scale exercises for you below.

Check out the G minor pentatonic scale below, and assign one finger to each fret from the 3rd to the 6th.

guitar-practice-method

Below you will find a playable example of the F major scale in the first position. Don’t forget to use your open strings!

  • The best way to practice guitar using scales is to take it slow and listen to the sound of each note to get it in your head.
  • Memorization of sounds and positions is super important, so take your time!

Check out the F major scale below:

guitar-practice-methods

The Best Way To Practice Guitar For Songwriting: Learn New Chords!

We’ve already talked about challenging yourself, and this is part of that.

Be open to finding new ways to play chords you already know, and learning chords that you don’t.

We find that the best way to practice guitar is with open ears and an open mind. You never know what sounds you might stumble upon!

Check out some interesting and easy-to-play chords below!

C SUS4

D SUS2

G SUS4

C ADD9

A MAJ7

A SUS2

How To Build A Routine That Sticks

Building a solid practice routine is hands-down the best way to practice guitar.

Set goals for yourself, even if you’re just starting out. Use everything that you’ve learned here today to build a set of practical achievements for yourself.

Your goal can be as simple as learning a new chord or as complicated as shredding an Animals As Leaders song.

It’s entirely up to you and your comfort zone.

Make sure you set reasonable expectations and build your goals up in small steps, especially at first. You’ll find that you make progress quicker with shorter goals at the beginning.

Remember: Practice makes perfect.

National-Guitar-Academy

Where Do I Go From Here?

Want to develop your own best way to practice guitar? We recommend you do the following:

  • Buy a journal and create a practice journal to track your progress
  • Find a guitar teacher to help you hone your skills!
  • Find a friend who plays guitar and practice together
  • Listen to more music!

Recommended Resources

If you enjoyed this free guide to the best way to practice guitar, you’ll love the other free lessons we have in store for you!

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