By David Taylor
If desire is the most important part of learning
it you wouldn’t have even started), then concentration is the
most important part of practicing guitar.
I often say to people that 20 minutes of focused practice can
beat, hands down, 2 hours of ‘normal’ practice, or just
Many people are discouraged when they are told how much time
they must put into practice. The truth is, you don’t have to
practice all the time to be a good guitarist.
(I’m not saying you shouldn’t have time to goof off and play
around. But if you want to improve quickly, you must keep
playing guitar and practicing guitar separate.)
Let me tell you now…
It isn’t how much time you put into practice, it’s the quality
of the practice that matters.
When I play guitar, I play to have fun, I play to perform for
people, and I play for the fun of playing! That’s why I
learning guitar in the first place.
But when I practice guitar, I focus and concentrate on what
trying to achieve, and I work on the goals that I want to
You see, if you completely focus on one thing you are more
likely to do it well.
This may sound simple too to some. Some of you may be thinking
“this is great, I only need to practice 20 minutes a day and
ill improve more than I would if I practicing 2 hours a day”.
Well that’s not exactly true.
Its how focused your practice is that counts, not how long you
practice. Can you really focus for 2 hours?
Let me give you this small example to illustrate my point.
Picture a red triangle inside a black box.
Close your eyes, and keep that image in your mind for 5
without letting a single thing distract you – no other thought
must enter your mind for that 5 seconds…
How well did you do? Be honest with yourself.
This isn’t an easy thing to do. Most people find this
at first. Its difficult to keep a focused mind like this.
I hope this example has shown you that it’s not that easy to
keep focused attention & concentration for look periods of
But still, you must always remember that its quality and not
quantity of practice that makes the difference between a great
player and an average player.
This is a perfect time to tell you that you shouldn’t be
spending hours and hours ‘practicing’, because you simply
focus for that amount of time.
If you are practicing for a solid 2 hours or more you are
probably not helping your development as a guitarist that
A much better way of using this time is to practice in bursts.
A good idea would be to practice in bursts of 20 minutes or
You can vary it depending on what you feel like doing, but try
not to practice for long periods of time in one go. It’s not
helping as much as you think it might be.
Also, it’s important to take breaks from what you’re
practicing. You can do something else for awhile, go for a
walk, watch TV, or maybe just play around and have fun with
your guitar and loosen up a bit before you start focusing on
It is important for you to have a definition in your own mind
of ‘practicing guitar’ and ‘playing guitar’.
This will keep you more focused and allow you to reach your
goals as a guitarist much easier.
An exercise for you to try to help you further develop
concentration is to sit silently and count slowly from one to
ten in your mind.
If anything should interrupt your counting, whether it is a
noise, a stray thought, or the awareness of your own
you must start over from one.
Again, it’s unlikely you will be able to achieve this
straight-away. It’s a hard thing to do. However how out and
'Zen' this exercise may seem, it will re-focus your mind on
task in hand, and it’ll help you learn faster if you can stay
focused on what you’re practicing.
You should try this exercise whenever you start to feel like
you’re loosing your focus.
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