PHIL KEAGGY - Grammy nominated and seven-time Dove Award winner, is one of the world’s great guitar players and a pioneer in contemporary Christian music.
- May 23, 2017
It’s a very busy world and it feels like everyone is bidding for your time. You have good intentions but it seems by the time you get home from school or work, you’re spent. Add to that the challenge of finding quality family time and you just have no energy left to give, much less inspiration for playing. If guitar is your passion, you will understand the joy of sitting for 30 minutes and just playing for you, no audience or distractions. It is therapy for your soul. Still, you will sigh and think to yourself, “If I only had more time...” You might even face harsh criticism and people you love the most might say something like, “If you’d put that stupid guitar down long enough, the yard might get mowed.” For you, guitar is part of who you are. What’s the best time to play guitar so that you can be sensitive to the needs of yourself and others? Let’s take a look.
Quiet Time For Me
Look, no matter who you are or what you do, you deserve a little time for yourself each day. Even if It’s only 15 minutes, you gotta get away and clear your head. If not, you’ll always be on edge and drama is just going to happen. Fifteen minutes isn’t enough either, but if you’re at zero right now, let’s start by taking 15 minutes in the morning to sit with a cup of coffee and your guitar. Let everyone in the house know too so they know to steer clear. Sit and play through a couple of songs and a few exercises while you sip on your coffee. When the coffee’s gone, your time’s up. If you do this every morning for a week or so, your family or roommates will get the sense that you’re committed and it’s important to you. They’ll also notice how kind and at peace you are when you come out of the basement.
The Briefcase Approach
Are you a man on the move? You may be a businessman or woman or you may just be working several jobs and running gig to gig, barely having time to breathe. Take along your travel guitar. There are plenty of little half-size guitars that you can keep by your desk or somewhere out of the weather. Everybody gets a break or at least lunch. Grab your meal and sit in the car or close the door at the office and pick up your guitar for 15 or 20 minutes. You’re not going to become a virtuoso like this, but you will keep your calluses and build muscle memory. When lunch break is over, back to work. You can play the music over and over in your head while you work too. Eventually, when the lights go down and it’s time to rest, you can pick up your guitar and go over it again a couple of times before you crash.
Play Guitar in the 24th Hour
There are just 24 hours in a day and you need to get at least six to eight hours of good sleep. So, that only leaves you around 16 hours a day to work and play. If you can give an hour a day to your guitar, you are doing better than most. Finding an hour to set everything else aside and put everyone at a distance and focus on you and your passion for guitar is a real challenge. We feel your pain, but the best time to play guitar for you may be different than the next guy or gal. If you tend to focus more late at night, put the kids to bed, spend a little quality time with the spouse, and then slip away for an hour and play guitar for a while. The problem might be stopping. If you love guitar, you might look at your watch and realize you’ve been playing for two hours. That’s cool, except you gotta get up and do it all again at 5 a.m. Set your phone’s alarm for an hour or so and that’s it. Go to bed! Your hour a day may be morning or evening. It doesn’t matter, just find it.
The Part-Time Musician
You may be a church musician or a weekend warrior playing restaurants or bars. You may even be a part-time guitar teacher with a dozen or so students. Whatever your music schedule looks like, you will likely discover you need more playing time. Teaching time isn’t the same as playing. You’re usually sharing elementary stuff, which is great, but it doesn’t keep you growing. One way to add some playing time is to get there 30 minutes early and wood shed hard for 30 minutes before you teach or even before the weekly rehearsal starts at church. Just don’t doodle through the sound check. Come early and find a dark corner to set up for a while and jam. If you go to the restaurant or club, unplug and play quietly for a spell after sound check or before. You need that warm up time and you can play through a few new things you’re working out unplugged.
The Big Download
Not being a great manger of time can be hard to overcome, but one way you can beat it is to take a Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon and spend two or three hours downloading a half dozen new songs or musical pieces. You should print off the music or tablature and go through each piece as an overview. You’ve got the mp3 files on your phone or iPad and the tab, so do your 15-30 minute mini jams each day. When you have the tunes reasonably mastered, do another big download. You will find time for that big jam session sometime every two or three weeks. The wife and kids will be away and instead of flopping down in front of the TV or computer, shut out the world and pick up your guitar.
The quickest way to answer the question of when is the best time to play guitar is whenever you can find uninterrupted time that doesn’t negatively affect your day job or family life. You may have to cut out a different activity or two, but we all have a little fat in our schedule that can stand to be removed. On top of finding time to play guitar each day, another change you might want to consider is taking online guitar lessons. At Pro Lessons, our qualified instructors can teach you something new at any time of day. Find out how you can be our next student by clicking on the banner below.