Before you start slamming me with the most hateful, rage-filled burns you can conjure up in the comments section below, hear me out.
I can already envision some of the harsh comments - ‘FU Roxie…You’re NO John 5’ or maybe something a bit more graphic like ‘Zakk Wylde will shit on your grave’….One of which is true (I am NOT John 5), and the other I hope never to become true (please Zak, have a little compassion if you happen to outlive me).
Soooooo….what do I mean when I say practicing 8 hours a day might not be as helpful as you think? Well, unlike John 5 or Zak Wylde, you probably do not even HAVE the time to practice that many hours a day…there is a little thing called a J O B that you just ‘might’ have to go to in order to provide you the things that allow you to, you know…survive!
Just remember, those guys I mentioned before have already put in the time to getting their playing to a high level. Not to say that there isn’t always room to improve your playing…but in this world of DIY career-building, let’s see where those hours could be more wisely spent focusing on the ‘big picture’. Shall we begin?
Part 1 - Rock n’ Roll All Night and party ‘some’ of the Day
Let’s take a view of what a 24-hour day might realistically look like–
Sleep - 8 hours
I know, I know…rock n’ roll all night, party everyday…but ya gotta sleep sometime!
Work - 8 hours
Hopefully you do something that doesn’t crush your soul…and even if you do, try not to ‘hate’ the thing that provides you with a place to live, food to eat, and money to spend on rock shows (who am I kidding, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t spend money on rock shows…you’re already ‘on the list’)
Time left over - 8 hours
Part 2 - What to do with those precious 8 hours
Of those 8 hours let’s see what ‘else’ is important other than practicing the instrument that will eventually be your golden ticket to wearing gold-plated diapers (it’s from the SNL ‘more cowbell’ sketch…but you knew that already smarty pants!)….Personally, this is what I strive to do with those extra 8 hours instead of just playing guitar.
1 hour - Working Out / Exercise
Yeah, yeah, yeah whatever you wanna call it, it’s important to MOVE your body, stay relatively fit, and honestly….physical exertion can do wonders for clearing the mind (which is important as you read on).
When I wake up each morning, I STILL to this day do a 30 min. workout called ‘Jillian Michael's 30-day Shred’…still waiting to look ‘shredded’ even though it’s been 10 years, but that’s another story…At least I feel ‘worked-out’ and ready to start on a day of doing at least ‘one’ thing to further my career.
1 hour - Social Media upkeep
I know this seems like A LOT of time to spend on replying to peoples comments and creating a post for the platform of your choice (or perhaps you combine a few of your favorite platforms and ‘multi-post’, a good Social media life hack btw), but think about it….if you ONLY took out your phone or computer once a day for an hour instead of the countless ‘minutes’ you waste checking your feeds over the course of an entire day, think of how much how much total time you’d actually SAVE doing it all at once?
Also, I can’t stress how important it is to relate and identify with your audience. Get to know the people that know you (at least on a social media level). Those are the dedicated people that will stick with you when you are a ’nobody’ all the way through to the point you ARE wearing that first pair of gold-plated diapers!
1 hour - Emails to Contacts and Following Up on Goals
Again, 1 whole hour does seem like a lot of time to be spending in front of your screen…but if done ALL AT ONCE, it can fly by in an instant. Spend that time reaching out to contacts that might be able help you with what your current goal is. Email the people that can book that gig, confirm that interview, or set up that rehearsal.
There are SO many ‘hacks’ on how to maximize your time on Social Media, Emails, etc. to list in this particular Roxie Blog that can help you to NOT fall down the Internet Rabbit Hole that it might warrant an entirely separate blog…but for now, do your best to do at least ONE THING A DAY on both your social media and personal email that brings you closer to your goal than the day before.
That’s actually really important.
So we have 5 hours left (pretty efficient so far, eh???).
Part 3 - Making the MOST of those few hours left
So let’s be realistic and say that with those remaining hours Eating, Showering (hopefully you are showering!), and Traveling from point A to point B (see?…you have EST and you didn’t even know it!) will take up an hour or two…so down to 3 hours -
Spend some time getting ‘inspired’….who knows, maybe watching that YouTube clip of cat juggling will give you the best idea for a guitar riff ever…or that Netflix documentary about sex-bots is all the inspiration you needed to write the next big song. You get my point though…playing guitar (and songwriting) is a very emotionally driven thing…the more things that can inspire you to play, the more you will actually P L A Y !
And if you are in a relationship, DON’T forget it!…spend time talking with your mate, or taking time out for the important people in your life. It’s important to understand that the balance of regular life vs. rock star life.
So let’s say after all that we are down to only 1 hour…but guess what…we’ve saved the BEST hour for last
Part 4 - You STILL have to practice! What? If it was that easy, Courtney Love would be doing it…errrrrr……
OF COURSE YOU SHOULD PRACTICE! Mozart didn’t get to where he is by only partying….or did he? According to the movie ‘Amadeus’ perhaps he DID strike of ‘balance’ of working on his craft and ‘promoting his brand’ by socializing at costume parties…but wait, that didn’t end well. Forget the last few sentences you just read…remember the other shit though!
Yes, you DO need to practice your instrument (or whatever your talent is) in order to at least be ‘in the game’. Perhaps though you can take a better approach of your routine to make the most out of the time allotted.
Let’s say we have 1 hour to work with per day…but wait, that’s SO little time! I can’t even tune my guitar in that amount of time (answer- buy a TUNER or use this easy link, wink wink - http://bit.ly/PlayAlongMusic_TuningNoteSeries )
With that 1 hour break it down into sections
20 minutes - Motor skills
Think of this time as working on the ‘head’ (or your brain), focusing on technique.
Warm up with the scales of your choice, the chord progressions of your choice or any of the millions of exercises you have been shown online.
Practice going up and down the guitar neck, getting familiar with each ‘area’ of the guitar fretboard that gives you joy (even the parts that annoy you). Play ALL the chords you know ALL over the neck. For example you know three ‘A’ chords in different positions on the neck, don’t you? Now move onto an A# / Bb chord, then B and so on and so forth.
Concentrate on your picking hand during this time with either solo ‘riffs’ or strumming technique. Remember, this 20 minutes should focus not so much on the creative aspect of your playing, but the technical side.
20 minutes - Creativity time
Think of this time as working on the ‘heart’ (or your soul), focusing on who you are as a player.
Spend this time working on YOUR style, YOUR tone, YOUR voice. Work on riffs and songs that move you, even if you didn’t originally create them. The more you discover what moves you as a player, the more you will be able to sculpt those influences and create your own identity.
I always say that there are a million great guitar players out there, but the true guitar heroes are few…why? Because true guitar heroes come from great bands with great songs….think about it…and think about Brian May for just a second…ha!
20 minutes - Your Time
Use this time to work on specific songs, riffs, and solos YOU have created.
Record those riffs and song ideas on your phone (you KNEW that voice memo app had to be good for something, someday!) Work on those lyrics or guitar solos and how they will intertwine with the chord progressions you have created.
Use the same approach as I stated before - do at least ONE THING A DAY in regards to your playing that helps you take one step closer to your goal of being the player you want to be….and above all ENJOY THE RIDE, meaning: Enjoy the time you get to spend with your instrument…yeah, it’s work….but it’s work you gladly take on because the potential for greatness is there…it’s right there!!!
So there you have it…I’ve taken 8 hours a day of grueling guitar practice and compartmentalized it into three easy to swallow 20 minute segments…OBVIOUSLY, you can (and given the opportunity, should) practice more and shift the suggested times to what fits YOUR schedule best.
But the point of this entire blog is to make you understand that there is SO much more to furthering your guitar journey then JUST practicing guitar. Hopefully this helps. See you again next time!
PS. If this Blog DID help, please share it with people you know and write down suggestions in the comments to make future versions even better…thanks as always for your support, and LONG LIVE ROCK!