How To Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed When You Practice Guitar

Virtually all guitar players struggle with overwhelm from time to time. Guitar practice overwhelm is a feeling of helplessness that comes from having too much material to practice and not enough time to practice it in.


The way you respond to guitar practice overwhelm determines whether you continue making progress or give up, lose motivation to practice guitar and never reach your musical goals.


Dealing with overwhelm is about:

  • Understanding what causes guitar practice overwhelm to occur.
  • Having a simple strategy for organizing your guitar practice time that makes practicing effective and fun.


Guitar practice overwhelm is caused by forgetting the purpose of effective guitar practice. Guitar practice is about:

  • Developing skills that make you a great guitar player. These skills include physical elements (guitar technique biomechanics, 2-hand synchronization, finger independence, etc.) and creative elements (guitar phrasing, songwriting, improvising, creativity, etc.)
  • Overcoming musical challenges that stand in the way of you reaching your goals. These are specific weaknesses that hold you back from developing skills. Examples include: weak vibrato, struggle with ear training, picking hand inefficiencies, etc.


Good news: there are only so many musical skills you need to focus on to become a good guitar player.


Categorize your guitar practice materials based on the skills they help you develop or the challenges they help you overcome. These categories help you avoid overwhelm and stay focused on the big picture of the reasons why you practice guitar.


When you create your practice schedules, distribute your guitar practice time among the skills you want to work on. Then select specific exercises that help you develop those skills and practice them.


This allows you to:

  • Keep your guitar practice fun (because you aren’t practicing the same exercise every single week).
  • Improve your guitar playing much faster (because you practice each musical skill in a variety of contexts).


The more exercises you have in each category, the more fun (and effective) your guitar practice becomes.


Note: when you get a new guitar practice item to practice, find out exactly what skill it helps you develop or what problem it helps you overcome. If you can’t get a clear answer, don’t practice the item.


This helps you focus only on things that make you better and avoid wasting your limited practice time on things that don’t.


Note: a single exercise can help you develop multiple skills and/or overcome multiple guitar playing challenges. Rotate your focus between various skills and challenges as you practice the exercise. This helps you improve each element of your guitar playing most quickly.


This video shows how to rotate focus when you practice guitar:



Don't worry if you can't practice all exercises in your guitar practice categories. Focus on improving the general musical skills the exercises help you develop. As long as your skills are improving, you are moving in the right direction and should feel happy and fulfilled about your musical progress.


Implement this approach to make yourself immune to guitar practice overwhelm and become a better guitarist faster.


About the author: Mike Philippov is a progressive rock guitarist, guitar teacher and composer. He trains guitar players from all over the world how to practice guitar the right way.

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