What Should I Do if I Don't Have a Lot of Time to Practice?
There are times in every guitar player's life when there is not much time to practice. Some weeks you can practice every day, and other weeks you cannot practice at all. Inconsistent practice is normal and nothing to beat yourself up over.
There may even be times in your life when a sickness, overtime at work, or some other unforeseen circumstance make it impossible for you to practice for an extended period of time. These situations are only temporary, and in the long run, you will get back to a more regular practice routine.
If you are working with a guitar teacher, you should tell them about your lack of practice time. They will not be mad at you. In fact, they will appreciate your honesty, and it will make it much easier for them to help you during the busy periods of your life. Your teacher will be able to adjust your lesson plan.
It is OK to have your lesson time be the only time you get to practice all week. Practicing in front of your teacher is one of the best things you can do because you will get immediate feedback. There are often things your teacher can have you review away from your guitar. You can still improve your knowledge of the instrument or keep your music theory concepts sharp even though you don't get to play that often.
Practicing every day is essential for professional players. Most people do not want to be professional players. They picked up the guitar because it is something they enjoy doing. It is a hobby. For most people, practicing guitar every day is often an unrealistic goal. How often should they practice? When they have the time and for as long as they reasonably can. I know that my answer is very vague, but it is the truth.
Practice does not have to be your number one priority. Missing a practice session is never something to get upset about. Life occasionally gets in the way for most people, which is OK. You have higher priorities in your life, like your family or your job. Your guitar is important to you, but other things sometimes have to come first.
Most people have enough stress in their life. Don't add guitar practice to that list. Remember that you picked up the guitar because it was fun. You enjoy the time you do get to play. The last thing you want to do is let frustration creep in and take away the happiness playing your guitar gives you. So many people have allowed their discouragement to take over and quit lessons or play their guitar altogether. Once you stop, it's tough for most people to get started again.
Remember that if you keep playing, keep going to your lessons, and make sure you have fun playing guitar, you will improve. Maybe not as fast as you want, but you will get better. Don't sabotage your progress by stopping. Through my many years of teaching, I have had numerous students quit because they did not have the time to practice at home. Some of them came back, but they did not touch their guitar for a long time and lost most of the skills they had gained. If they had kept going, they would not have lost any of their skills but would have improved as a player, even if just a little.
About the author: Brian Fish is a professional guitarist living in Northeast Ohio and is an expert guitar instructor at Guitar Lessons Geauga.