What To Practice On Guitar When Your Practice Time Is Limited

by Tom Hess

You make more progress as a guitarist when you practice skills with a high degree of transferability. Guitar skills with high transferability improve many elements of your guitar playing at the same time. This principle helps you make progress even when your guitar practice time is limited.

Directional picking has a very high level of transferability in many areas of your guitar playing. It improves your picking hand technique, fretting hand technique, 2-hand synchronization, articulation and timing. Directional picking also improves your sweep picking.

This video shows how to master directional picking the right way:

Question: “But Tom Hess, how can directional picking improve my sweep picking? Aren’t these 2 techniques completely different?”

Answer: Directional picking contains elements of sweep picking on (some) 3-note-per-string scale patterns. You change strings using a downstroke when ascending and change strings using an upstroke when descending. This (sometimes) allows you to sweep pick through the string change instead of jumping over strings. It is one of many advantages directional picking has over strict alternate picking.

Here are more guitar practice tips to use when you have limited guitar practice time:

Tip #1: Use Focus Rotation During Your Guitar Practice.

What is focus rotation? 

It’s where you use one exercise to improve many areas of your guitar playing during your guitar practice. (This makes it a perfect technique to use when you have limited guitar practice time.)

For example: make a list of guitar technique elements you want to improve (picking hand efficiency, fretting hand efficiency, 2-hand synchronization, tension control, etc.).

Then begin practicing any exercise and rotate through each of the guitar practice elements above for 1-2 minutes each.

Tip #2: Set Micro Goals For Your Guitar Practice.

What are micro goals?

These are tiny goals you can reach after just a few minutes (which makes them very useful for days when you have limited guitar practice time).

A micro guitar practice goal could be: playing a guitar lick 1-2 bpm faster, memorizing an entire guitar solo or repeating a guitar lick while focusing on training a new guitar technique habit. 

As you reach each micro guitar practice goal, you get proof that your guitar playing is improving. This will often motivate you to do more guitar practice. (And help you to find more practice time than you expect even in periods of limited guitar practice time.)

Another benefit of setting guitar practice micro goals is that it helps you tell quickly when you are NOT improving. And that helps you refine your approach to guitar practice and move your playing forward faster than you would otherwise.  

Learn more ways to improve your guitar playing when your practice time is limited.

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