Quick Tip: All Practice and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Guitarist

Writers have a saying to describe the process of practicing their craft: B.I.C. or Butt in Chair. That’s a good starting place for guitar players, too.  

If you’re dreaming of being a better guitar player, then have a seat. Here’s your guitar. Play something. You just got a little better at it. 

Play something that you love to play, something that you love to hear. Play something that is fun for your fingers to feel, something that makes your fingers move in a way that feels like a satisfying stretch. 

Practicing—formal practicing—can wait. 


Play something else. Take another chorus. 

Try it a little differently this time. You’re now walking through a forest full of birds and deer tracks and trees of all sorts. Have you ever seen such colorful leaves? Have you ever noticed that meandering brook rolling by on the left side of the trail? Step across it on the rocks. 

Way to go! 

You kept your balance and didn’t fall in. 


Now imagine you’re in a bustling city full of people of all stripes. Take the bus. Push the stop request and get out in a neighborhood you’ve never seen. 

Wander into that shop over there. Pick up a new spice to try later. Or try it now. You’re in your kitchen, combining the freshest and most delicious ingredients, creating an aroma that is irresistible. 

Now you’re actually getting hungry. 

What time is it? Wow, how did two hours just pass? 

That timeless sense you get from playing music when it’s flowing through you effortlessly is that much-sought-after zone

In hindsight, it was going very well. (In the process, if you’re thinking about how well it’s going, it’s not going very well.) 

OK, now go practice.

Click here for more tips on effective practice.

Jane Miller
Jane Miller

Jane Miller is a composer, arranger, and professor in the guitar department at Berklee College of Music with roots in both jazz and contemporary acoustic guitar.

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