Top Tips for Practicing Music at Home
Many students often ask me what is the 'right' way to practice.
Do you have to practice 2 hours everyday to become a good guitarist?
Well, in my humble experience the answer is NO.
In fact, practicing for long periods of time increases the likelihood of injury.
What I usually recommend to my students, is to practice 15-20 minutes a day 2-3 times a week.
'That's so little!' some would say on hearing this.
The reason for this is simple, when we practice, what we are trying to develop is our muscle memory.
Improving our muscle memory allows us to play the guitar without having to keep checking our fingering on the fretboard. This allows us to focus on reading of the musical notes and in turn allows us to play out the music easily. Isn't this one of the things that makes a guitarist great?
The other thing to note is that unlike the piano which has one 'button' for each note, the guitar has on average 2 to 3 places to play the very same note albeit on a different string. Therefore, developing muscle memory is particularly important for aspiring guitarists as it allows a them to intuitively and instinctively know which fingering or choice of note position to adopt when reading a piece of music.
Another advice I would give my students is to purchase a guitar stand. Purchasing a guitar stand reduces the hassle of having to remove the guitar from the bag every time you need to use it. It therefore, reduces the inertia of getting yourself to practice the guitar.
Next, change your strings regularly. How regular is regular? The answer is different for nylon strings and acoustic guitar strings. For nylon strings, I would recommend once every 6-12 months. For acoustic guitar strings which are made of steel and as a result tend to rust faster, I would recommend once every 3-4 months. I have found that changing strings regularly ensures good sustenance of guitar notes during playing. This will ensure that you don't accumulate rust on your fingertips and also better appreciate the real sounds of the guitar.
Do note that it also important to purchase the right 'gauge' for the strings of your acoustic guitar'. Gauge refers to the thickness of the guitar strings. The higher the gauge number, the harder to press down on the strings but you would in turn get better sustenance of the guitar sound when playing due to the thicker string. For beginners, I would recommend getting gauge 11 as it soft enough to press without significantly compromising on the sound quality.