No excuses for not playing the guitar

The other day, I saw a kid I know who is very gifted and was totally obsessed with guitar six months ago. I asked him how it’s going. With sad eyes, he said, “Well, I don’t have much time to play these days. You know, school, sports, and stuff”.

It broke my heart because this kid has talent and passion. So, I told him there is no excuse. Everyone who loves to play should be able to find at least 15-30 minutes a day to play. Here are a few ideas…

1. Keep at least one guitar out of its case where you can grab it easily

If your guitar is in a case in the closet, you will not pull it out often because it will be a hassle. Keep at least one outside in your room, the living room, next to the TV, etc. That
way, when you walk by, you can pick it up, strum a few chords, play a few licks, even if only for 5 minutes. If you play electric, it doesn’t have to be plugged in. Play it acoustically just to get your fingers on the fretboard.

2. Get a cheap traveler guitar to keep at work, in your car, or wherever you spend most of your time

I have a guitar at work and one in the trunk of my car. When the day’s done at work, or if others leave early, I pull it out and pluck a few notes. If there is traffic on my way home from work, I pull over somewhere, pull out the guitar from the trunk, and play in my car. Or, I sometimes eat lunch quickly at work, and go out for my lunch hour, park somewhere, and play. That’s at least 20-30 minutes extra per day that I didn’t have before.

3. Jamming on the john

People (guys mostly) often take a book, their iPad, etc, to the bathroom while they’re taking a crap. Why not bring in a guitar, assuming your bathroom is big enough. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it might be gross to some. But, get over it. I do this all the time. My wife and kids used to make fun of me, but now they’re used to it. Many riffs and song ideas were born while sitting on the john. If I recall, Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme said in an interview once that he wrote “Hole Hearted” while in the bathroom. Take advantage of this time. Play.

4. Play while you’re watching TV

If you watch TV, then you shouldn’t have an excuse for not playing the guitar. But, if you have to watch, why not play while you’re watching. If you’re not alone, pick up your electric and just pick softly. Practice scales, positions, picking techniques, etc. You can also jam along with whatever music is playing in the background of the commercials and shows. This is actually great practice since music and genres changes quickly.

5. Make a practice space for yourself

If you’re married and have kids, you know how every inch of space in your place gets filled up with something. Well, have some balls, and reclaim a little corner for yourself. Or, if you’re a kid, tell your parents you need a practice place. Put you amp there, have your pedals set up, and a guitar on a stand plugged in. Then, when you get a moment, hit the on switch and play. People make space for their tools, for their kids’ toys, for their excercise equipment, etc. Make space for you guitar playing. Make it important.

6. Make the time, simple as that

You make time for TV. You make time for Facebook and YouTube  You make time for exercise (well, some of us do). You make time for a cooking class. You make time for going to ball games. You make time for everything else. Well, make some time for the guitar. Just block out 15, 30 or more minute blocks of time and stick to it. Put it on your calendar if you live by your calendar. If it’s near the end of your list of priorities, it will never get done.

So, there you have it. Just play. Make it easy for yourself. Take advantage of every moment. And remember, there are no shortcuts. To be good, you need to put in the time. Every 15-20 minutes counts and can add up quickly.

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