Split Practices for Faster Progress and Easier Scheduling
Would we progress faster on the guitar if we practice twice a day instead of once? Of course! But is this really feasible?
Even if each practice is relatively short, we can see great gains when we add a practice session to our days.
The Nature of Learning – Starts and Stops
The brain prefers starts and stops. It puts more importance on the beginnings and endings of events.
We tend to remember the start and finish of movies, adventures, conversations, and more.
And guitar practice is no different. We are most likely to recall and learn the material we focus on at the beginning and end of a practice.
So we can optimize for this. We can use this natural tendency to get more done in less time.
Within a large practice, we can take a short break (even a few seconds) to stand up and move our bodies. This “resets” the clock and our brains are a little better at learning.
We can also switch from one practice area to another, contrasting area. A timer can help remind us of when to switch.
And we can also break one, large practice into two smaller practices. This helps us learn faster, and also may fit into the schedule more easily.
The Benefit of Two Practices per Day
Imagine two practices a day. This could be morning and night, afternoon and before bed, or any other configuration. The benefits abound.
If working on memorizing a piece of music, we have the extra opportunity to practice recalling it. If working on smoothing out a difficult chord shift, we have an extra go at the choreography.
This bonus review can greatly speed up the rate at which we ingrain movements and learn deep lessons.
One Practice Can be Short
It’s important to note: one practice can be short. Even a few minutes gets us the benefits.
For example, just 5–15 minutes first thing in the morning or just before bed is fine. In fact, reviewing the day’s practice just before bed is a time-proven method to improve faster on guitar. We can do this on guitar, or as “shadow practice.”
And if times are busy and our time limited, we can make both practices short. This allows us to maintain momentum without carving large blocks of time into our daily schedules.
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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