Hone Your Guitar Playing Skills: Play Guitar Songs

If you’ve been following this Purposeful Practice Series from the beginning, then you’ve set some goals, and have been working toward them. Maybe your current goals are working through a method book, or learning blues guitar, or fingerpicking. But one of your bottom-line goals has to be — learning to play guitar songs, from start to finish, at your current performance level.

It doesn’t matter if it’s five songs or 100, but you’ve got to keep a current list of tunes that are in your repertoire. Add this new guitar-practice goal — to develop a repertoire of five songs. Write down the songs you’re going to learn. Keekp your repertoire list in your guitar case, on your stand, or in your practice notebook.

Use the songs in your repertoire to Check Your Guitar Playing Progress, record yourself and compare current recordings to past recordings. Always keep your ear out for areas that need improvement.

Constantly Update Your Guitar Playing Repertoire

You’re guitar repertoire is dynamic. You should expect it to change over time. You’ll find new songs that you’ll want to add to your repertoire and some to take out. But be sure to keep your written list current.

Here’s what you can expect to gain. You’ll find that you’ve got confidence. When your co-worker happens to see you toting your guitar case and asks you to play something — you can pull it out and play some guitar songs. When a fellow musician invites you to jam, you can go in confidently knowing that you can contribute. You can show him a couple of your songs, he can teach you a couple of his.

Always Be Playing Guitar Songs

Another great way to keep your list of songs fresh and under your fingers is to play along with backing tracks of the tunes. You can either record your own backing tracks or play along with Band in A Box, or Garage Band. On your computer, keep a folder of the backing tracks for your song list. Play through the tracks on a regular basis.

Ultimately, you can start playing your guitar songs at open mics or at jams. You may find yourself inclined to start up a band. And that’s the real end game of all of this “practice” stuff. We don’t want to be guitar practices, we want to be guitar players. And that means having a repertoire of guitar songs to play. Learn those songs, and go out and make some great guitar music.

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