You may be wearing one of the most effective guitar-practice tools on your wrist — a digital watch with a countdown timer. If you don’t have a countdown timer on your watch get yourself a digital kitchen timer. I bought a kitchen timer for about $7 at Target. Mine has a magnet and I can stick it to my music stand. But, any countdown timer you have will work, as long as you can hear it go off at your music stand.
The Benefits of Timing Your Guitar Practice Sessions
- Keeps me honest per my practice schedule.
- Imposes breaks during long sessions.
- Frees my mind from beckoning chores.
- Allows me to make use of short, 10-minute time slots.
Keep To Your Guitar-Practice Schedule
If you have a practice schedule, tracking your practice time will keep you honest. My current schedule includes a daily 30-minute session working through the book, Mickey Baker’s Complete Course in Jazz Guitar. If I have 15 minutes before going off to work, I start the timer at 15:00 and work the book till the timer beeps. The 15 minutes goes on my log. I’ll have another 15-minute session during my evening practice.
Break Up Long Guitar-Practice Sessions
If I plan on having a 90-120-minute practice session, I use the timer to signal a break. Focused practice can tax the mind (which isn’t a bad thing) and can be tiring. Research suggests that it’s wise to take frequent breaks during intense study. When my timer goes off, I put down the guitar, get up, stretch or do a brief chore. Then it’s back to the music stand, refreshed for the next session. My sessions are 45 minutes, max.
Eliminates Guitar-Practice Intrusions
When I sit down to practice, nothing short of an emergency will interrupt me until that timer beeps. I will ignore the phone, incoming e-mails, and the dirty dishes that need washed. I can deal with all that after the session ends. If I realize I need to take the hamburger out of the freezer, I’ll jot a note to myself using the scratch paper and pencil that I keep near my music stand. (In the past, I would have jumped up to go to the freezer).
This also to eliminates the clock-watching intrusion. With the timer, I don’t need to monitor the clock to see if my time is up.
You Can Have an Effective 10-Minute Guitar-Practice Session
Before I started timing my sessions, I never thought to pick up the guitar if I only had a 10- or 15-minute window of idle time. But now, if I have 10 or 15 minutes I’ll set the timer and pick up the guitar.
Tip: Keep your guitar and practice materials at the ready. Be ready to practice at a moment’s notice.
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