By Piotr Sierzputowski
Do you struggle to find enough time to practice guitar?
This is a very common problem, because indeed – if you are a normal person, you probably have a lot of things to do at work, in your house, then you also want to spend time with your family… In such circumstances it is very challenging to find 1 or 2 hours to properly practice your guitar skills.
How about 15 or 20 minutes? Could you find that amount of time to play the guitar or study music? I bet you would… or at least it would be way easier than finding 1 or 2 hours.
How much musical progress can you really achieve in 15 minutes?
That is an excellent question! Let me answer it quickly for you: In 15 minutes you can achieve A LOT! …if you do it a certain way of course.
Do you want to know what are the steps required for you to achieve real musical progress in just 15 minutes? I’m going to describe all of the to you just now.
1. designate a specific timeslot
First thing you need to do is to choose a specific time during a day that you can grab your guitar and practice for 15 minutes.
“But… do I really need to practice at the same time e v e r y d a y?”
No. You can do whatever you want… but it is easier to stay consistent with your practicing if you do every day at the same time. It will feel like a routine and you biological clock will easily adjust to that.
I like to do this in the mornings before breakfast. 15 minutes practice wakes my brain up and makes my remaining day feeling great.
2. set a specific goal
You certainly cannot achieve much in any amount of time if you don’t know WHAT you want to achieve. It is especially true when you only have 15 minutes to practice. If you don’t know what to do, you can really spend all of that time thinking about it rather than playing guitar.
Decide what is the thing you want to get better at. Be specific. It is not enough to say “I want to be better at improvising”. This one is too general. If you want to get better at improvising, choose a specific backing track (or backing tracks) you want to improvise over.
You can also choose to learn specific scales or master notes on the fretboard or learn a specific song… It is all up to you.
The goals I like to set for myself for 15 minutes practice sessions are usually centered around mastering a specific solo or practicing specific aspect of my playing (speed for example).
3. make mistakes and correct them
When you already decide on the “project” you want to work on – i.e. you have a general idea what you want to achieve, you need to break it down into smaller tasks, so that you know what to do in each of the 15 minutes practice sessions.
You can do that in 2 ways:
- Create a detailed plan on paper – a checklist for example
- Just start working on your goal, reflect on what went well and what went not well and decide how you will correct it next time
While #1 is optional, #2 is not. Whether you create a checklist for yourself or not, you always need to reflect on how effective your practice session was.
I want to learn a specific solo.
During my first 15 minutes practice session I wanted to go through the whole solo, but ended up being just more confused than I’d been before and learned nothing.
What was the mistake I made?
I wanted to do too much in too short time.
My conclusion: Next time I’m practicing, I will choose a short fragment of a solo and focus only on that.
4. there’s no hurry
Your most powerful weapon is consistency. A single 15 minutes practice session will not do a lot for you… but if you repeat it every day for several months – your guitar playing will skyrocket (if you do all of the things I’ve written above).
The best way to be successful with short practice sessions like this is to focus on building the habit rather than achieving the end result. Just do your practice every time to your best ability. If you fail, just get up and try again. No bad feelings. No one’s in a hurry. Every practice session you do brings you closer to your goal.
Do that and watch your progress chart going up.
About the author
Piotr is a guitarist, singer, composer, band leader and guitar instructor in Ostrołęka (North-East Poland). If you have any questions about the article, feel free to contact him at Piotr@LekcjeGitaryOstroleka.pl