What's your limited time practice routine

wilson_smyth

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Ive played guitar on and off over the past 25 years but I never understood real practice and so never excelled.

I've recently learned about structured practice, but I've also recently had two kids who are very young so practice time is very limited.

I'd like to know how you all with jobs, families and commitments, optimize your practice time.

Currently I can get anything from 30 to 90 mins most evenings.

My routine looks like:

  • 30 -45 mins - song practice, currently hideaway and don't believe a word.
  • 30 mins - blues improv practice. Currently working on playing more authentically over the changes.
  • 15 mins - drills, linking the boxes/caged shapes to allow faster runs.
That would be a good evening, but often one of the kids wakes or won't go to bed so the time is a lot shorter.
 
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McGlamRock

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Looks like a good routine. Do you like/or are you interested in playing Jazz?
I'd add a few standards in the mix to help playing over the changes.
 

krangkrang

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I also have two young kids but have only been playing for three years. I have a truefire.com All Access subscription so my practice routine is structured around that. I play after my wife falls asleep, so from around 10 - midnight every night.

30 minutes: Chris Buono's guitar gym courses (currently alternate picking course and scales course)

30 minutes: Frank Vignola's modern method of guitar course

30 minutes: jazz standards (various truefire courses)

30 minutes: blues and jazz licks (various truefire courses)

I don't use a stop watch so the time lengths are just rough guides. I also try to give myself one night a week to experiment with sounds and jam out with a looper on my modeling amp in lieu of structured practice.

Before using truefire I practiced similar amounts of time but it was less structured. This routine feels like it will pay greater dividends.
 

Larry F

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Some of the things that I've done include:

Hand stretches while driving or watching TV.

Playing a loop of 40 blues songs every time I got in the car.

Playing along with YouTube videos, focusing on different "feelings" that I like to participate in.
I try to remember that practically no technique is necessary to create some beautiful phrases. (I take inspiration from all those wonderful players who have some serious problems with their hands. I also find inspiration in the music of prodigies and rank beginners. There is no such thing as bad blues performances, from my perspective and needs.)

I subscribe to the belief that every note I play is money in the bank that accrues over time.

The behaviorist BF Skinner used to keep a log of his writing sessions, believing that the simple act of keeping a log is, in itself, reinforcing.

I make note of problems that arise when I'm soloing with backing tracks. I try to work those into my practice sessions.

My wife is a painter, and our days are filled with working in our respective studios. We both knew from adolescence that having kids was not in the cards, given the total devotion we have given to our art forms. Now retired, we regard our no kids policy as having a real boost to our work. But, we are starting to wonder if it wouldn't have been a bad idea to invest in a kid or two who could assist us in our declining years. We're OK with our financial well-being, but it would be nice to have someone replace a light bulb or two, especially when ladders are involved. I'm sort of jesting about all this, but there is an undercurrent of truth to it.
 

tfarny

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More than 30 minutes a day is fantastic when you've got two young kids, so congrats on finding the discipline to do that! Most of my practice is centered around learning songs I am going to perform somewhere. By learning, I mean composing and / or memorizing solos, intros, and experimenting with different voicings, tones, etc I'm not sure what my next show will be at the moment so I spent today trying out a few different songs to see how I like them with my voice and if they would work for my situation.

I do not "run scales" or boxes, and haven't for a few years now. I probably should do that but I have had a lot more success thinking in terms of chords and "sounds" for lack of the perfect term. By that I mean the minor 3rd over the major scale, the 4th tone for that wistful sound, the b7 for whatever chord I am playing over, the maj7 for that jazzy note, and so on. Some of the notes you want to play are in the scale boxes and some of them aren't. I guess I had to "run some scales" to get to where I am now in my understanding and I would probably need to do more of that to get to the next place. But I am more-and-more getting to the point that I can put my fingers where they need to be to get the sounds I want, without having to have that mental map of scales (which is helpful but also limiting). The other thing I am doing is learning and re-learning open D as an alternative tuning.

What I should do more of, and what I'd advise anyone to do, is to spend more time practicing to a beat of some kind and less time not doing that. I have the Garageband Drummer on an iPad and it really is a wonderful practice aid, the easiest to program drum machine I have ever encountered.
 

bgmacaw

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I try to get in an hour or so of playing time every day. On days I go into the office (currently twice a week) I'll also play about 30 minutes in my truck at lunch.

Most of the time I'll work on particular techniques for 10 to 15 minutes. This will be something I'm trying to improve on or something new I'd like to learn. I spent a lot of time on slide over the past few years as part of this practice.

The rest of the time I'll play along with backing tracks or songs on YouTube, if I'm not trying to record something for one of the challenge jams here.

Occasionally I'll fiddle around with effects or song ideas but I find it easy to get bogged down doing this so I try to "time box" the amount of time I spend doing this.
 

JL_LI

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My goal is to play for 40 or 45 minutes. I’m retired so one would think I have unlimited time. But I don’t have unlimited time to play. My wife has metastasized into my playing space, first with a new loveseat and recently with a new chair. She turns on the TV and won’t leave. I’ve been thinking of getting a desk top amp but that would only be giving in and abandoning my space. I’d never get it back.
 

teletail

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Whatever you want to practice the least is probably what you should practice the most. :D

Seriously though, what's holding you back? If you can't play what you hear in your head because your technique is lacking, focus on your technique. If your choice of notes is lacking, focus on your vocabulary. Most people practice what they are best at because it's fun and easy. The people that practice what's hard are going to become the best players.
 

hnryclay

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I practice 2-3 times a day 30 minutes to an hour a session. However, when my time is limited I think you can make noticable improvement by taking time to listen to music. Cooking dinner for the family, listen to the songs you are working on. Driving to the store, listen to the songs you are working on, constant immersion in music, from when you wake up to when you go to bed. Always be listening, to something that inspires you to improve.
 

Wallaby

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I focus on clean technique and precision with arpeggios and runs, cross-string and ringing-string stuff, interval explorations and chord constructions and progressions.

I do this unplugged when it's quiet and I have a few minutes.

I don't really do anything related to tones unless I'm amplified.

I've tried headphones, there is something I don't like about using them, I like feeling connected to my surroundings I guess.
 

Cheap Trills

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I admire your discipline. And I wouldn't consider 90 minutes a night "time limited"... I probably get that much time in a week. I play in my head sometimes before I pass out at night though, like fretboard visualization and inner ear stuff.
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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I really never "practice". I play. It's more fun that way. I pick up the instrument and make a concerted effort to improvise something I've never played before with no pre-conceived ideas. Hit a chord and find a melody from that. Usually a simple 2 or 3 chord progression and build it into an idea.

Then put it in the looper and create some ideas to layer.

Then the lead.

20 minutes pure stream of creativity to work up my chops and runs.

It's valuable and uplifting way to "practice".
 

Peegoo

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Whatever you want to practice the least is probably what you should practice the most. :D

^^^This. Actual structured practice is work. It should be hard work.

Noodling and playing stuff you already know in your sleep is not practice; noodling actually reinforces bad habits because the brain disengages from the hands.

Use. A. Metronome. This is far more important than it appears.

I listen to a whole lot of different music (mostly college radio), and I keep notes on tunes, chord structures and passages that perk up my ears and get my attention. My practice is guided by these notes.

It doesn't even have to be guitar music. It helps make my practice fun because I'm not stuck in the dusty old 'classic rock/blues' rut.
 

Double Stop

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Whatever you want to practice the least is probably what you should practice the most. :D

Seriously though, what's holding you back? If you can't play what you hear in your head because your technique is lacking, focus on your technique. If your choice of notes is lacking, focus on your vocabulary. Most people practice what they are best at because it's fun and easy. The people that practice what's hard are going to become the best players.

This pretty much sums it up. You need to spend quality, focused time out of your "comfort zone". Practice what you think you suck at until you get to a point where you "got it", then move onto the next thing you suck at, etc. etc. That's practice.

Also, another word of advice when you're limited to how much actual free time to practice is avoid using too many effects when doing so (especially delay or modulation effects). Next thing you know, you'll find yourself playing the intro to "Run Like Hell" for an hour because you end up "playing the effect" instead of hunkering down and focusing on practice. Fun, but that's not practice.
 

PhredE

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Regular lessons. Having the support (and criticisms) of someone that is more knowledgeable, more skilled in the subject matter is the singular best and fastest way to improve.

(Also concur with Teletail and Peegoo above as well).
 

Alex_C

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My time is very limited. I try to play on the couch nightly. I use a NUX Mighty Plug, with one earpiece so I can hear my wife. I run scales, do finger exercises and play with song ideas. I go into my music room when my wife isn't home. That is where I write and record, play to BTs, drum machine or metronome. A good week is 5hrs of guitar time, currently I'm at about 2hrs.
 

wilson_smyth

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we are starting to wonder if it wouldn't have been a bad idea to invest in a kid or two who could assist us in our declining years. We're OK with our financial well-being, but it would be nice to have someone replace a light bulb or two, especially when ladders are involved. I'm sort of jesting about all this, but there is an undercurrent of truth to it.

If the only regret of not having kids is the lack of a bit of help around the house, then you made the right decision!

They force you to give up a huge amount of your own life for a long time, and for many, the juice is not worth the squeeze. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

A local handy man or investment in long life LED lights will be orders of magnitude cheaper than the lifetime cost of a child!
 

Blue Bill

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I'll second: Take some face-to-face lessons. An efficient practice routine is different for each person, at each stage of skill development. As usual, asking the internet may not get you the answer you seek.
 

ChicknPickn

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We both knew from adolescence that having kids was not in the cards, given the total devotion we have given to our art forms. Now retired, we regard our no kids policy as having a real boost to our work. But, we are starting to wonder if it wouldn't have been a bad idea to invest in a kid or two who could assist us in our declining years. We're OK with our financial well-being, but it would be nice to have someone replace a light bulb or two, especially when ladders are involved. I'm sort of jesting about all this, but there is an undercurrent of truth to it.

Same story as yours, pretty much. Thing to remember is that many people hope their kids, or at least one, will be there to help in later years. And in many cases, that just doesn't happen, for all kinds of reasons.
 




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