Monday, January 21, 2013

Finding time to practice is NOT the problem.

Why is it that some people seem to achieve so much in so little time while others struggle? After all we all get the same amount of time right?  Working with guitar students they would often say they don't have time to practice and I knew early in my career that my response to their lack of time claims literally determine their success as a guitarist. I knew to be a successful guitar teacher I needed to get students out of the 'I have no time' mindset. Successful guitarists always have time to practice. Joe Satriani, Steve Morse, John Petrucci and whoever your guitar heroes are they somehow manage to do the practice and still have time for tours, interviews, promos, friends and family. Having no time is not about a lack of time but about how we use time.

Leveraging time.

Those who know how to leverage time will always achieve more so the aim is to leverage your time and the time of those around you. Leveraging means making the most of every minute and here are my tips and what I tell my students.

Focus - Break up your day into 10min time blocks. Focus on one thing for 10 minutes. Do not allow distractions where possible. Applying this to your guitar you should break down your practice into 10 minute sessions. One skill, one bar or section of a song etc. When you start to focus you will get more done. Keep working to 10 min blocks and you will work more efficiently. Knowing you only have 10 minutes will give it a sense of urgency. Ever notice how sports teams go hard in the last 10 minutes when the score is close? As an example I am writing this blog in 10mins.

Delegate - When you understand the value of time you can decide whether its best for you to do it yourself or to delegate. In other words where is your time best spent? Guitar students of course must do their own guitar practice but you could delegate some other task that will free up more time for guitar. Going to a guitar teacher will also help you because you can delegate some of your practice program (which can take a lot of time) to your teacher

Technology - Another great example of leveraging is technology. The Internet for example allows us all to find information faster but there are now many helpful apps that will save you time. For example AB Loop is good for picking out sections of a song automatically. Working out songs by hitting the rewind button on your iPod is very time consuming. This one app literally saves me hundreds of hours. This can be applied in many areas of your life but it requires taking time out each week to look for the opportunities. Keeping looking and you will find.

I hope that gives you a few ideas.

David Hart   


For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Idol delusion - Overstating your ability

The TV show American Idol has revealed a well known condition that we all suffer from to some degree in one area or another. That is we believe we are better than we actually are. When we watch Idol and see wannabe singers stand up and audition with no obvious training or natural we can't believe that they believe they even bothered turning up. Sadly what we miss are our own self delusions. For example when I began learning guitar as a young teen I believed that I was pretty good. It was only after about 3 months of lessons that I realised how bad I really was. I listened back to some of the recordings I did in my first 2 years while self teaching and they were really bad. We all do it. The question is where are you guilty of self delusion right now?

David J. Hart


For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Monday, January 7, 2013

"I cannot get her to practice at ALL. Help!"

I received this email from a parent regarding practice.

"HI,      My five year old began guitar (acoustic) lessons approx 4 months ago. She begged for months and was very excited when she got her guitar. She does well in her lesson and seems to enjoy her hour w her teacher. I cannot get her to practice at ALL, however. EVER. I've thought about taking lessons with her, as I enjoy music and have always wanted to learn guitar, yet I don't want to insert myself in HER activity?  I recently saw an article/blog you wrote that seemed to recommend that? What do you think? I will take any advice you have for me.  I think she has great potential and really don't want to "let" her quit just bc she won't practice.  Help!"   

My reply

Thank you for your email. You are obviously a great parent because have decided to find a way. Many parents simply give up at this point believing that if their child doesn't like practice there is no point pushing them. The reality is very few young children will want to practice. I have been working with children for 28 years and it did initially take a few years to learn and understand the best approach. BTW I am currently teaching my own 3 year old daughter who can you see in action here

Learn guitar yourself 
Learning guitar yourself is definitely a good option for a few reasons. Firstly you are a role model for your daughter so she is more likely to see playing guitar as part of growing up. Secondly you will better understand the learning process and how your daughter feels. Daily practice is a discipline and is not always easy. 

Fun and rewards

So when it comes to practice we need to combine fun with discipline. Learning anything requires focused effort and children much prefer play. If they sense guitar is work they won't want to do it so our first strategy is to turn practice into a game and this requires a bit of creativity. You will of course need to sit with your daughter on every practice session for now. Over time once the routine is established you will be able to back away. To turn practice into a game you use small rewards based on what your daughter likes. With my daughter I give her sultanas and stickers. I also let her watch some Tinkerbell for 10 mins at the end if she does well. The trick is to put have small incentives and rewards that turn every challenge in to a game. Generally when I teach I work out a plan with each parent.


The fact is making guitar a game is rarely if ever enough. Discipline is required. Now when it comes to discipline many parents find this challenging because they worry that if they force their child they will make a negative association to learning guitar and will end up hating it. The way I explain it is like most things children 'have to' learn. E.g. reading, writing, cleaning teeth, eating healthy foods. As parents we rarely compromise in these areas. I recently saw a show where the mother allowed her child to eat whatever he wanted. When he reached 18 years he was declared one of the fattest people in America. Children learn self discipline from parents. 

Guitar time

With my daughter (Mia) we do guitar time at 5pm each day. She usually doesn't want to do it at first (as she would rather play with her dolls) but she knows it is part of her routine. About 10 mins before I remind her that its guitar time. I never ask "do you want to do guitar?" anymore than I ask whether she wants to clean her teeth which she dislikes doing. I simply state that we are about to do guitar so be ready. I then give her choices like "Today would you like sultanas or stickers?" 


Once the practice is underway Mia will sometimes resist or mess around or even cry. When this happens I don't reward this behaviour with attention as it reinforces it. I simply ask her to keep focusing her attention back on the task at hand and use positive reinforcement like "You are really good at this one." I also go through a similar routine of practice so she knows what is coming. I always begin with the familiar to build confidence. If she gets frustrated with an exercise I will go back to an easy one to rebuild confidence.

Each child is a little different so I would need to see your daughter to understand the actual dynamics. Can I ask does your daughter have a teacher or has she had a teacher in the past?

David J Hart


For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit