8 Tips to Grow Momentum on Guitar

Tip 1: Practice in short bursts of five minutes

One of the best ways to build momentum on guitar is to limit the amount of time that you spend practicing. If you feel overburdened by your current practice routine, this one tip will help. 

If you spent five simple minutes diligently and deliberately practicing what matters, it'd be more helpful to you than an hour of unfocused playing.

Lots of beginners think they must practice an hour or more each day. They don't realize it but they are killing their enthusiasm for guitar, if not murdering it outright. Five minutes guards us against ourselves. 

Tip 2: Make a routine of practicing each day at the same time

Some people I know always come home from work and practice guitar. Others wake up and practice first thing in the morning. Either way, these people get better at guitar because they come back to it each day. A day won't feel right to them unless they complete their habitual routine of practice

If you make a routine out of practicing guitar, if you practice at the same time each day and stick to the routine for about a month, it will become a part of your day. Creating a habit of daily, bite-sized practice will build momentum in your experience of learning guitar. Keep it steady and predictable, and the momentum will follow.

Tip 3: Declare war on mistakes

Mistakes are not reflections of our ability to play guitar. They are chances, windows of opportunity for us to grow. There is no earthly reason to pretend that they didn't happen. Truly, they are blessings in disguise. They are chances that would help us correct a problem in our playing for good.

Personally, it's so much fun when I make a mistake. It's almost like I'm saying, "Aha! Gotcha! Now I'll practice you until you no longer sting me again!" There's such a feeling of satisfaction I get when I correct something that messed with me. Practicing is something I totally look forward to each day, and (for the most part) I love the feeling of being in the moment of correcting mistakes. 

Want more momentum? Find those mistakes and find pleasure in fixing them.

Tip 4: Let go of playing easy sequences

If you decide that the process is more important than the product of guitar, you will end up with a different view of mistakes. You'll naturally spend your time identifying the sequences that need  tough love, target them with laser accuracy, fix them, and marvel at your ability to play something that was once more challenging for you. To get to this place, you need to let go of playing the easy stuff.

Finding the difficult and making it easy is the entire point of practicing. I adore finding mistakes and creating practice exercises to fix them. I love to stumble across easier ways to play. I feel inspired whenever I change something in my practice regime that makes the entire experience of playing guitar so much stronger and potent.

Practice is fun when you give up the need to feel satisfied and embrace the model of hunting down mistakes. To do this, bank on tackling what's difficult.  

Tip 5: Measure and quantify yourself with a teacher or guitar buddy

Teachers and guitar buddies are resources not to be taken for granted. The right teacher can deliver an earth-shatteringly good piece of advice to you at just the right moment. A guitar buddy can help you move forward simply by playing music with you. Both can support you if you're feeling down. Both want to play music with you. Both will inspire you. You'll have the right amount of pressure to get better at guitar.

Finding and befriending guitarists is one way to assure yourself a fast way to learn. Find these people and watch yourself build momentum, fast.

Tip 6: Stop short: Leave the guitar with the feeling you have more to accomplish

One of the biggest reasons why I absolutely love practicing just five minutes is because I never quite finish what I'm working on. True, there is a satisfaction I get when I finish some big project. It's a nice feeling. Denying myself that satisfaction on a smaller, bite-sized level can be frustrating, but the more satisfied I am the lazier I will be about learning and doing something new.

In other words, satisfaction breeds laziness.

Do you want to get better at guitar? It takes time and repetition, and it cannot happen in one day. There is no place for urgency, and little room for deadlines. Letting go of feeling satisfied can make build a massive momentum for you.

Tip 7: Day-dream about playing guitar, unattached

One of my students is constantly wrapped up in guitar. He daydreams about playing it. He enjoys the thought of his fingers playing a melody. He loves imagining how BB King played solos. Best of all, he does this away from the guitar. This practice can help you too.

You might like the idea of imagining playing a simple chord at first. You might like to imagine the sound of a single strum. If you are more visual, perhaps you could imagine what the strings look like when they are being strummed. Or, you may want to imagine the look of sweat that pours off a guitarist when he or she is really in the moment, on stage.

The point is this: the easier it is for us to imagine playing guitar, the easier it will be to gain momentum on it.

Tip 8: Consider banning the word,  "should."

I am not a fan of the word "should." Like, I should do this, I should do that, I shouldn't do this, etc.. It's an annoying word to me because it seems like it has an implication of guilt and shame. Whenever someone is using this word on me, it makes me think they are trying to manipulate me into doing something they want me to do. I don't really put up with it anymore, and I hope you'll consider doing the same.

If you agree that the word "should" has an element of shame and guilt to it, then perhaps you'll agree that shame and guilt get in the way of a natural experience of playing guitar. When have we ever done anything we were guilt-tripped into doing and liked it? I can't recall a single moment.

Do what you'd like, but consider disallowing the word "should," either in speech or thought. It's difficult at first, but it's doable. Be good to yourself: consider getting rid of those "shoulds." They are like poison darts to your momentum.