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Finding the Time for Guitar - 144

podcast Sep 30, 2020

You dream of playing your guitar but you don't have the time.

Sound familiar? Today, I give you three tips to find the time you need to get great at guitar

Another week goes by and you didn't touch your guitar.
Or, maybe, you got a few minutes here or there but nothing that's enough to move you forward.

Or, maybe, you cranked up your amp, plugged in your guitar, and stomped on your pedals and enjoyed playing for a few minutes before you got distracted and moved on to something else.

What ever the reason, it just doesn't feel like life and guitar want to make friends. You feel yourself slowly moving away from the guitar and you feel frustrated
"Man, I wanna play this thing and get good. That guy is playing good guitar, what's he doing that I'm not."

If just giving up is not an option for you, you need to fight back. You need to find more time for guitar and make it more valuable.

The first thing you can do is start carving out some time. 

Well, what do we need to do to make that happen.

First, make a schedule of your day... and be honest because you can't fix something if you don't know what the problem Is.

This isn't a made up schedule of what you think your perfect productive day would be. It's a map of all of the stuff you do and how much time it takes.

Step two, take a look at your daily map of stuff. Simple, easy. Just sit and look at it for one minute. Make sure you have no distractions and set a timer.

Finally, See what pops out at you.

What is the thing on your daily map that just screams, "I should probably do something about that.

It could be the hour you take just to go to Starbucks and come back.
Or, It could be the three hours you play video games.

Now it's time to make some decisions. 

Our goal here is to carve out time. Not replace anything. You don't have to lose anything to carve out some time. You just need to realize exactly what you are doing. Find the offending activity and decide to cut it down.

Step two is to figure out the timing. Is this something that happens at a regular time period or just something that you find yourself doing.

If it is at a regular time, you can be more exact with your decisions.
If it happens from time to time, you can associate your guitar playing with that activity. Everytime, I watch a movie, I follow it up with 15 minutes of guitar.

The final step is to decide what's a reasonable amount of time to play video games and how much of that time can I put towards guitar.

Remember, the key to getting better on guitar is repetition not monster practice sessions. That, in itself should make your decisions easier.

How we do it

The first thing that may happen when you use this carved out time is to try to rush into it. It's not always so easy to switch gears so fast. Ease into it.

The stress of having a limited time to play.

Entering into a musical practice or performance when you are stressed is never a good thing. You will have difficulty remembering what you have worked on later or what you needed to remember for a performance. Your thoughts aren't on what you are doing, they are focused on the rush you are in to get things done.

When you have a regular recurring practice time (even if it is carved out) it's not a big deal if you aren't super productive every day. Some days will be better than others, and that's OK. Your progress comes from the repetition over days, weeks, months. Not the stress of fitting in all you can in a limited amount of time.

Learning to stop playing on purpose. 

This one is definitely personal. Once I start playing, it's hard for me to stop. I start getting ideas and loose track of time.

Before you know it, I've used up all of my time for other important things as well. What that does for me is take me completely away from any sort of routine, and that eventually takes me away from the guitar.

It backs up all of my other tasks and when that happens, they get moved to the next day. And what does that mean? It means they take up my practice time for the next few days.

If I had just stopped playing, regardless of what I was doing or feeling, I would be able to keep on schedule. And when I'm on schedule, I stay in the power of repetition. And that is much more valuable than anything I could have been when I went over time in my practice.

Let something go

What do we need to do to let something go.

First you need to take a look at your activities and responsibilities.
Second, ask yourself if you are overwhelmed and answer honestly.

Think about what would your life be like without each of your activities, guitar included.
The fact you are listening to this makes me feel confident that you are trying to put guitar as a priority.

Now it's time to make some decisions

  • Are you going to clear the way for something valuable or not?
  • To what extent are you going to let this go?
  • When are you going to make this happen?

My recommendation is today.

How do you let something go?

Not so easy to answer. Think of it as a complete replacement. This is how I got away from video games. The time I spent playing video games, I just kept walking past the tv and towards my guitar and amp.
Talk to those around you for support.

I really want to make something a new priority and I could use some help.
Give them license to call you out, without you getting offended.

Sometimes you need a reason to play 

What is great for this is to have inspiration to play. And when you are inspired and that gives you a reason to play, finding time is easy. It's easy, because your playing has moved from being a sometimes thing to being a main event.

What do you need to have a reason to play guitar.

One way to have a great reason to play is to achieve a goal.
Finding the thing that you just have to be able to do at all costs.
Setting a goal, whether it's a short term or long term one can set your playing on fire.
Do you have any set goals that are more specific than just to get better at guitar? If you don't, please give this a try. Start with something silly like, I won't put my pick in my mouth when I practice this week.

When you achieve that (and you should, just think about it), it's just a short step to your next goal. Getting used to achieving small goals is addictive in a good way.

Another great reason to play is to prepare for a gig.

Playing for actual people is exciting, fun, and …. very stressful at first.
Pouring your heart out for a group of strangers is never easy and the anticipation of that can make you freeze in your tracks days before it actually happens.

Knowing that being well prepared can kill any anxiety in a musical situation is key to getting used to playing out.

A last great reason to play is to keep up with a group.

Having a good group of folks that like to play together is so much fun.

This kind of informal get-together, is very important for the growth of a musician.
That being said, no one wants to be the one that holds everyone in a group back. Keeping up with the people you play with is instant inspiration and gives a focused reason to practice.

Now it's time to make some decisions.

  • Decide to put yourself in a situation that puts guitar first.

  • Decide to focus your practice time on this situation.

  • Decide make this a daily routine because this is the fastest way to progress and stay confident in what ever situation you have decided to be in.


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