When is the Best Time to Practice Guitar?
It can be a challenge to fit a productive guitar practice into an already busy schedule. We need to carve out time alone. We need to cut distractions so we can focus.
This means we need to manage our environment, our energy, and perhaps other people. So it’s no wonder so many people have trouble keeping a consistent guitar practice habit.
Below we’ll explore the logistics of guitar practice. Then you can find the best time and situation for your own practice. That way you get the most from your efforts.
Any Practice is Wonderful – Perfection Not Required
In a perfect world, everything fits into place. We have the perfect practice space. We have appropriate mental and physical energy. The routine comes easily and guitar is an integral part of each normal day.
But in real life, it’s not always so clean. Our schedule may not be consistent. Our energy fluctuates based on sleep or what we had for dinner last night. We have moods and thoughts. We’re human.
So while we can plan and optimize, the most important thing is that we practice. Any time on guitar is time well spent. Music is a bonus in life, so any we do is wonderful.
If the ideal time is not possible, then the best time is whenever we have time.
When is Practice Possible?
To begin exploring the ideal, we can first rule out the impossible. We may have a job or family that requires certain hours. We need sleep.
After removing these, we can look at what is left. From here we decide what makes the most sense.
Sometimes we can change the impossible times to possible. We could practice on a lunch break or between meetings. We could get up early or negotiate the family schedule.
When Do You Have the Most Energy?
Time management is one thing. Energy management is another. Energy is perhaps the most underrated resource we have.
It’s difficult to focus well after a 14-hour workday. We’re just not built for this kind of marathon thinking.
Ideally, we practice guitar at the time of day when we have the most mental clarity and energy. For most people, this is the morning. Some people are true night owls, but these are a minority.
It’s helpful to look at all the tasks ahead and schedule each based on the energy and clarity best suited to it. For example, say we have to choose between cleaning the house and practicing guitar. We can clean when brain-drained, but we can’t practice well then. So it would be better to practice when our energy is best, then do lower-level tasks when not at our best.
Of course, it’s not always practical to play guitar when our energy is at its greatest. In this case, we do the best we can. Perhaps a change in schedule will one day be possible. At that time, if we recognize the opportunity, we can make the change.
A Regular Recurring Schedule is Ideal
For several reasons, a regularly recurring schedule is best for guitar practice.
This helps with consistency. If we don’t question whether we practice, and simply sit down to it, we advance more over time.
This means we need less willpower. We don’t need to wait for motivation or negotiate with ourselves. It removes the daily question of “if.”
And we may also find that we focus better when we practice at the same time each day. We “get into the groove” quicker. This helps us learn more and faster. We are more likely to enter flow states and time is more likely to disappear (a sign of great practice).
It’s Okay to Experiment
The perfect practice time is not always obvious. And it’s not always consistent. So it’s fine to experiment.
We can try different times to find what works for us. When experimenting, it helps to choose a time and practice consistently at that time for at least a few days. This lets us get a feel for practice at that time.
We may find unexpected upsides or downsides of a given practice time. This is normal.
It may also help to keep a daily journal. After a few days, we can better reflect on what is working and what isn’t.
Two smaller practices instead of one big one
Another strategy for guitar practice is to practice for shorter times, but more often. So two short or mid-length practices instead of one long one.
The important thing here is that we have time to fully engage and focus. It often takes a few minutes to find one-pointed attention. We need to allow enough time for this, and then some time to practice in this state.
Multiple practices are especially good when memorizing new music. The more frequently we force recall of new musical material, the faster we memorize it.
At Whatever Time You Choose, Be Prepared and Ready for Action
It’s much easier to maintain a consistent, productive practice habit when we have a plan. For this, it helps to be organized and have a structured methodology.
If you feel you’d enjoy a structured approach, The Woodshed® Classical Guitar Program could be a fit for you. As a member, you don’t have to wonder what or how to practice. Instead, from the first minute, you find focus and do good work. You rest assured knowing that the work you do today will compound in time to bring you forward.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
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