An Essential Guide To Creating A Guitar Practice Schedule

No matter how much time you have, making a solid guitar practice schedule to suit your life will help you progress as a guitarist! Let’s discuss how!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to make a guitar practice schedule that suits your lifestyle
  • Why a practice schedule is so important
  • Why time management is crucial
  • How to break up the time you have available to you for better practice

Let’s Design A Guitar Practice Schedule Around Your Life

Let’s face it, folks. Life gets busy extremely fast. 

  • Often, there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the things we want to do, and that includes being able to make a good amount of time to play guitar.
  • Some of us have more time than others, but we all need to use the time that we have to the best of our advantage.

In this lesson from the National Guitar Academy, we’re going to help you design a workable guitar practice schedule that fits your lifestyle.

Guitar-Practice-Schedule

Why Do We Need A Designated Guitar Practice Schedule?

Many guitarists are guilty of falling into the ‘noodle loop.’

What’s the noodle loop?

  • Have you ever sat down and just aimlessly played riffs that you already know with no direction whatsoever?
  • Do you play for thirty minutes and feel like you’ve achieved nothing?

That’s the noodle loop, folks.

It’s a funk that we can easily slide into if we don’t go into each practice session with a dedicated set of goals and targets.

We’ll end up riffing on ideas we’ve already written, or licks we have already mastered; and ultimately get nothing done.

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So how do we go about breaking this vicious cycle?

  • We set goals and we create a guitar practice schedule that forces us to work within a time frame of practice.
  • It’s not enough to set the goal of practicing our picking.

What speed are you comfortable with? How fast do you ultimately want to play? What scales will you practice? Is there a song that makes you want to play faster so you can learn it?

These are the questions that we need to answer for ourselves in order to level-up our practice regimen.

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Everyone’s Needs Are Different

What you need to learn as a guitarist in order to progress is different than what any of your friends and fellow guitarists will need. 

Pro Tip: It’s important not to measure yourself against the progress of others when learning guitar.

Everyone moves at a different pace, and the only pace you should be concerned with is your own.

  • This doesn’t mean that you should learn nothing from anyone but yourself, it just means not to compare yourself to others.
  • It’s easy to get lost in our heads and feel like we just aren’t measuring up, but the fact of the matter is that you’re moving at exactly the right pace for you.

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Figure Out What You Can Fit In

As much as your needs are different from everyone else’s, so is the amount of time you have available in the day.

  • You may not be able to fit in a full two hours of practice everyday, but maybe you can fit in thirty minutes right after school or work.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself and commit to an unreasonable bracket of time.

We’ve broken down this lesson into various time brackets from two hours all the way down to five minutes.

That’s right – five minutes.

It’s all about how you manage your time, and trust us – you’ve got more of it than you think.

Let’s start big with the two hour drill!

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Guitar Practice Schedule I: The Two Hour Drill

This is for those of you who have the time to spare and want an intense workout that will set your hands and ears on fire.

Regardless of your skill level, this routine will help you stay limber and make progress faster than you would if you were just practicing one scale or song per day.

Pro Tip: You should have a metronome by your side at all times. These drills are intended to get your fingers moving at an intervallic pace, and the metronome is ideal for helping you pace yourself.

When we practice without a metronome, we can’t guarantee that our time feel will be 100% precise. Being able to divide up our timing is important and should not be overlooked!

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2 HOUR GUITAR PRACTICE SCHEDULE LAYOUT:

  • 5 Minutes – Warm Up/Stretching
  • 10 Minutes – Practice the chromatic scale ascending and descending (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 15 Minutes – Chord Study – Practice whatever chords you are having difficulty with currently using arpeggios to seek out muted or bad notes and adjust
  • 20 Minutes – Speed training with metronome over major and minor scales (alternate picking) (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 30 Minutes – Freestyle! Start learning something new!
  • 20 Minutes – Arpeggio practice (Click here for a guide from Guitar World)
  • 20 Minutes – Song practice – Whichever song you are working on recently (or: Improv over a backing track with scales)

The two-hour format is fantastic for those of us that have the time, and allows us to really flex our muscles in our practice sessions. Don’t forget to stretch!

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Guitar Practice Schedule II: The 1.5 Hour Drill

A little bit lighter on time, this 1.5 hour drill will do just as much for your hands as the 2 hour drill will.

As we are aiming this guitar practice schedule at guitar players of all skill levels, we have omitted a lot of the more complex exercises that you can incorporate.

Pro Tip: As a consolation, we include a run through the chromatic scale in each guitar practice schedule in this lesson.

  • The chromatic scale is amazing for every skill level, as it can be played a variety of different ways.
  • If you’re looking for a challenge, try mixing up the way you play the chromatic scale. Instead of 1-2-3-4, try 1-3-2-4 on the way up and 4-2-3-1 on the way down.

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1.5 HOUR GUITAR PRACTICE SCHEDULE LAYOUT:

  • 5 Minutes – Warm Up/Stretching
  • 10 Minutes – Practice the chromatic scale ascending and descending (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 15 Minutes – Chord Study – Practice whatever chords you are having difficulty with currently using arpeggios to seek out muted or bad notes and adjust
  • 10 Minutes – Speed training with metronome over major and minor scales (alternate picking) (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 20 Minutes – Freestyle! Start learning something new!
  • 10 Minutes – Arpeggio practice (Click here for a guide from Guitar World)
  • 20 Minutes – Song practice or Improv

Pro Tip: Time management is everything. This guitar practice schedule is a stripped-back version of the two hour drill because we want you to have as rounded of a practice session as possible.

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Guitar Practice Schedule III: The One Hour Drill

As we begin to narrow down our amount of available time, it’s important not to sacrifice any one part of your schedule too much.

The most important part of an effective guitar practice schedule is that you cover as much ground as effectively as possible.

  • This means developing focus.
  • This isn’t as easy as it sounds, either. Focus takes time to build, and a lot of mental strength.

The better we can focus when it comes to guitar practice, the more we can accomplish in less time. Be conscious of what you’re playing and how it sounds, and be critical (but not too critical)!

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1 HOUR GUITAR PRACTICE SCHEDULE LAYOUT:

  • 5 Minutes – Warm Up/Stretching
  • 5 Minutes – Chromatic scale ascending & descending (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 10 Minutes – Chord Study
  • 10 Minutes – Speed training with metronome over major and minor scales (alternate picking) (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 10 Minutes – Freestyle! Start learning something new!
  • 10 Minutes – Arpeggio practice (Click here for a guide from Guitar World)
  • 10 Minutes – Song practice or Improv

Pro Tip: Improv doesn’t always have to involve playing over a backing track. If you have a guitar riff that you’re set on writing, you can use the last ten minute window of your schedule to practice and write!

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Guitar Practice Schedule IV: The Half Hour Drill

Here is where we need to be really conscious of the time we use, and how we use it. 

This thirty minute drill is intended to light your fingers up quickly and inject some energy into your guitar playing.

Pro Tip: It’s important to pace your playing with your metronome now that you’re dealing with less time.

In order to be super effective, you can set your metronome low and work your way up in tempo by intervals of 5bpm until you’re at a tempo that is comfortable yet challenging to nail down. Give it a shot!

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30 MINUTE GUITAR PRACTICE SCHEDULE LAYOUT:

  • 5 Minutes – Warm Up/Stretching
  • 5 Minutes – Chromatic scale ascending & descending (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 10 Minutes – Speed training (alternate picking) (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 10 Minutes – Learn a new chord & practice it!
  • 10 Minutes – Song practice or Improv

Pro Tip: As we narrow our time window, we will find ourselves more focused on technical ability and movement in our practice routine.

This is important because even if we only have a few minutes, we can cover a lot of ground with a routine that is grounded in movement.

Focus on getting those fingers moving, no matter how long you have!

13-best-ways-to-practice

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Guitar Practice Schedule V: Fifteen Minute Speedrun

This one is for the early risers who want to get a few good minutes of guitar practice in before their day starts.

  • If you’re the type of person who is short on time and deterred from creating a guitar practice schedule as a result, this is for you too.
  • Fifteen minutes is plenty of time to put together a quick routine to keep your fingers excited about playing the guitar.

Pro Tip: Even though we’ll have to shorten our stretching time slightly, we still need to make sure we’re stretching.

If you’re planning on taking a run at your guitar for fifteen minutes a day and you want to make progress, you need to make sure your hands are as up for the challenge as your brain.

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15 MINUTE GUITAR PRACTICE SCHEDULE LAYOUT:

  • 3 Minutes – Stretching
  • 2 Minutes – Chromatic scale ascending & descending (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 5 Minutes – Speed training (alternate picking) (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 5 Minutes – New chord study

This routine gets your fingers moving as much as possible, helping them push their limitations with each practice session.

The idea of learning a new chord each day is a fantastic concept to keep our brains ticking and our fingers moving – all while we continue to make progress on our favourite instrument.

Don’t shy away from the guitar due to fear of lack of time. Once you schedule out your day, you’ll find that you often have more time than you think you do.

Even if you don’t, fifteen concentrated minutes with the guitar will do you more good than two hours of unfocused practice.

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Guitar Practice Schedule VI: Five Minutes Or Less

A five minute practice routine might sound crazy, but you can cover a lot of ground if you’re focused enough.

The point with this five minute drill is not to break an incredible amount of ground with your playing, but to keep your fingers limber.

  • We don’t recommend exclusively sticking to a five minute daily practice regimen, but if it’s all the time you’ve got then you’ve got to work with it!
  • Try to stretch in advance of sitting down to play, that way you will give yourself more time to actually play your instrument.

5 MINUTE GUITAR PRACTICE SCHEDULE LAYOUT:

  • 1 Minute – Stretching
  • 2 Minutes – Chromatic scale ascending & descending (start tempo: 80bpm)
  • 2 Minutes – Chord practice – As many chords as you can play, in even time to a metronome.

Pro Tip: Time management is everything. Slotting in even a few minutes every day to play guitar not only does wonders for your hands, but for your brain as well.

Studies have shown that music decreases stress, and the practice of music can help keep the brain stimulated, leading to better defense against age-related ailments in the brain.

Daily practice does wonders for us on all fronts, and should never be discounted. Make a solid effort to practice guitar everyday and your brain will thank you!

Where Do I Go From Here?

Having a solid guitar practice schedule is important, and so is staying inspired. 

Remember to try and switch up your routine every now and again to keep things fresh and exciting.

New chords, new riffs and new scales will keep us engaged and determined to conquer this mysterious and amazing instrument.

So what are you waiting for? Get practicing!

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If you enjoyed this lesson on building a guitar practice schedule around your life, you’ll love the other free content we have available below:

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