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I play both guitar and sing(I'm a much better guitarist than singer) and have been devoting around 4 hours a day to both instruments. I'm noticing that I'm having trouble covering all the things I want to cover from practicing guitar scales, doing singing exercises, and improving and composing new songs. How have you set up your practice schedule to get the most bang for your buck?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

There's an excellent book by Gerald Klickstein called The Musician's Way that is the best treatment of this topic I've come across. Klickstein is a guitarist as well, but the methodology he advocates is applicable to any instrumentalist

  • Keep a practice log

  • Split your practice time among these broad categories:

    • New material
    • Developing material
    • Performance Repertoire
    • Technique
    • Musicianship

One thing Klickstein advocates that I have found particularly useful is about the tempos at which one practices. When one is working on new material, it should be practiced at a speed at which you make zero mistakes. Once you can execute a passage cleanly three times, you're ready to move on or increase the tempo.

He also encourages musicians to avoid mindless repetition. Make every note that comes out of your instrument as musical as possible, and always keep challenging yourself.

Good luck.

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Good thoughts here - just want to add that the OP should apply all of these categories separately to composing, singing, and guitar playing. Those are really three different practice sessions, and should be treated as such. Also, I was always told you should be able to execute a passage 10 times in a row without mistake before increasing tempo. –  jjmusicnotes Feb 14 at 3:03
    
Good points. I just ordered the book. Thanks!!! –  jason328 Feb 14 at 3:20
    
This is precious, thank you so much for the info! –  NPC Mar 12 at 18:20
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Try to avoid this as much as possible.

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Haha good point. I do my best to keep electronics from me when playing music, unless it's a mic or Ebow. –  jason328 Feb 14 at 3:42
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